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Work culture has become increasingly competitive, with employees often being pitted against ruthless corporate structures. The need to constantly prove your value breeds rabid insecurity at every level of team hierarchy and has an unfortunate way of drumming up drama between protective supervisors and their ambitious reports. This week’s submission comes from a Spin Friend who needs help emerging from their boss’s shadow to present ideas that are being suppressed.
First of all, if you’re not deliberately circumnavigating you’re companies communication process, I don’t think establishing a direct line of communication with your Director is sneaky at all.
I was in a similar situation once with a supervisor who heavily monitored all of my communication with leadership and regularly blocked my ideas before I could ever take a shot. Ultimately, I realized her actions were less sabotage and more of a coping mechanism to deal with her own tumultuous work dynamics. Nonetheless, gatekeeping to maintain order stifled my abilities to grow in my career or deal with rejection when needed. Our relationship shifted drastically when I stopped seeking her permission and asked for her input instead. These are the three approaches I relied on when receiving biased resistance. Feel free to tailor these to your specific situation.
Option 1: Sweet
Use this when you’d want to kill ‘em with kindness. Not only does this option show you respect your boss's insights and experience, but also gives them an opportunity to shine in a supportive role.
I’m so happy we’re on the same page and I feel reassured that our ideas are in alignment (stroke ego) Do you have any notes that you want to share for this new pitch or learnings.” This way you are inviting into the fold and if they opt not to join in or be supportive it’s does not reflect poorly on you.
Option 2: Spicy
The spicy, albeit passive-aggressive, approach only works if applied with extreme confidence. You are essentially separating yourself from their prior lack of success in implementing an idea; while standing firm in your own abilities.
I’m optimistic that what I’m presenting will get the ball rolling again, but I’ll be sure to emphasize how much of an outstanding concern it’s been when I share my ideas.
Option 3: Sour
I don’t really consider this to be a sour response, but it is abrupt, and that can be ill-received by some. I often say in my columns that I’m providing advice, and you have the right to take it or leave it. The same applies to this situation when you do not want to deal with the office’s pseudo-politics.
Thank you for sharing.
Regardless of the option you choose, know that the only person who can give you permission to excel is you, and your ideas are a service to your personal development and company.