Recently a friend “Kristin” called me, sounding distressed. She had just written a letter to her boss, expressing her concerns about her job. “There’s way too much work,” she wrote. “And our new department head has been extremely rude. I’ve talked to several other people in the department. They’re all upset. Some are thining of leaving.”
Kristin received a very polite reply. Her boss pointed out that what she presented was, after all, hearsay. He could hardly act on unsubstantiated reports.
Kristin wasn’t my client, so I didn’t say much. I suggested she just let the whole conversation die.
I asked Kristin, “What do you hope to achieve? What do you want your boss to do?”
“I want him to understand the problems,” she said.
I took a deep breath. “Does he want to undesrtand?”
“Oh yes,” she said. “I think so. He means well, but…” and she was off and running.
When you do write to somebody, specify what action you want them to take. Be sure it’s within their scope.For instance, “I cannot do Assignment A and Assignment B. There aren’t enough hours in the day. Which should I prioritize?”
“That’s not a big deal,” Kristin said. “I can do A and B. I don’t want to risk my job.”
Well, if it’s not a big deal, I wanted to say, don’t bother to write the memo. And you’re risking something worse than your job: your credibility.
But I didn’t. I just said, “I have to go. The dog needs a walk.”
Gracie, the dog in question, is on the payroll. She gets me out of awkward situations. I don’t have time to give anyone free advice, even friends. And if Kristin wanted to listen, she’d be paying somebody.
If you’ve got a challenge and want some paid consulting, check me out here.