Dear Cat: My boss is constantly hanging around my cube, making it hard to get work done Â¿ and to be honest making me a little paranoid. What can I do? Signed, Winston.
Well, Winston, the best way to change his behavior may well be to change yours. I’m Cat Miller, and this is DiceTV.
Managers – especially new managers – often keep a bit too close to their employees. Because they don’t really know you enough to trust you, they to tend manage everyone carefully, which can grate on the nerves of experienced workers.
But remember, the dynamics of your relationship aren’t going to be set only by your boss. You have something to say about it, too. So use these techniques to instill some trust – and keep your boss in his own office.
Start by keeping your boss up-to-date. Give him frequent progress reports, whether he asks for them or not. As you get more comfortable – and as he gets more comfortable – increase the time between your reports. Once he knows he can count on you, your boss is going to turn his attention to other things.
Next, schedule meetings: You don’t want to seem rude, and it’s good to have face time. But if your boss tends to stop by unannounced, or stays a bit too long, tell him you’re not prepared to have a real discussion about your work, and ask if you can update him the next morning. A scheduled meeting, with a specific agenda, is bound to be shorter than an impromptu chat.
At the end of that meeting, be sure to ask when he needs another update, and schedule it.
Knowing when he’ll receive your next report can help keep your boss from looking over your shoulder too much in the interim.
If you are trapped in your cube, you can offer subtle hints that you’re too busy to talk. Lean forward in your seat, or sit on the edge of your chair. Stand up when he comes in. If you’ve really got an extreme case, take any extra chairs out of your cube, or fill them with papers. That way no visitor’s going to stay too long.
If you have a question for me, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s email@example.com, and put “Ask Cat” in the subject line.
I’m Cat Miller, this has been DiceTV, and we now return you to your regular desktop.