I have been on a job for six months now. The truth is that, I have been making some errors on the job along the way, and now my boss doesn’t see fit to trust me with tasks to do.
I have some personal problems that can overtake me sometimes, and which lead to this problem. I am an assistant to him in position but he passes by me to give task to someone else he trusts which embarrasses me and make me less valued. I am trying to make up for this by working on my weaknesses but how I get him to trust me again remains a problem.
Even though I came on board with no practical experience apart from a diploma degree in the career, he expects that by now I should be up to date. But another thing is, I am not aware of 50% of transactions that are carried out in his office since we are in separate offices.
I think I should be up to speed on daily happenings concerning the job in our office (Procurement Unit) because it is one of the busiest offices in the Agency. He calls me once in a while to sit with him and do some work but I think it is not sufficient instead, it should be always like that.
In his absence, senior bosses ask me question that sometimes I don’t have answers for because I am not in the know. I tell my immediate boss to always keep me abreast with happenings but he doesn’t. Another fear is if he leaves on a vacation, how will I manage the office effectively in his absence?
Please I need some advice to take cue from.
Thanks for your usual help.
There are a number of different issues here, let me address them one at a time
First you say that you have made some errors and now your boss doesn’t trust you. Most managers know that making mistakes is how we learn, so we have to let new people make one or two, but we try to make sure there is no damage caused to the business by those mistakes.
It looks like you have made enough mistakes to ensure he has decided to pull back a little, and use someone else. You have to learn from the mistakes, and let him know that you have learnt, make sure they don’t happen again, and give him the confidence in you that needs to trust you a little again.
Analyse why you made the mistakes. You mention personal problems. Try to leave them at home, and be professional at all times in the office. They are probably not the true reason you made the mistake. It is more likely that you panicked, or didn’t think enough about the options available, or maybe you were not in possession of all the information you needed to make the correct decision.
I always had this policy about mistakes as a manager; –
Mistakes happen. It doesn’t matter who made the mistake, the questions are why did it happen, how can we fix it, and how do we make sure it never happens again? This encouraged my team to own up to mistakes. We limited damage as best we could, and then talked about what was the reason for the mistake. Almost inevitably it was because someone didn’t have a vital piece of information. Often the outcome was that we altered a process, or changed the way we communicated.
So, make sure you discuss the reason for your mistakes, and if you can attribute them fairly to a lack of “being in the know “then perhaps he will come to understand the importance of keeping you fully informed. Not only would closer involvement avoid mistakes, it should improve your performance overall as you learn directly from him as he handles daily issues.
The best way to regain his trust is to up your game, make sure you make as few mistakes as possible, find out why you make any new mistakes, and what you should have done instead. Initiate the conversation with your manager if he does not discuss the issue with you, he may not feel comfortable bringing this up, and the net effect will be he will not pass over responsibility to you if he is not confident you are learning.
Perhaps for a while, until trust is rebuilt, you should ask for validation before you take a step you are not sure of. Don’t ask for a solution, propose one, and ask if that’s OK.
I have covered this in a module on delegation. please reread this. It is written from the point of view of the manager, rather than the assistant, but I think you will understand the process.
The issue of keeping everyone up to speed with what is happening in a fast-moving office is not a new one, it is the same the world over, and it is very difficult to resolve.
You are correct that proximity in the office is the best solution, but this is not always acceptable to a manager who wants to have privacy in his office for meetings .
Sometimes the issue is resolved by moving to open plan working, with plenty of meeting rooms available for more private meetings. I’m sure this is outside your remit to arrange. Anyway, it does have its own difficulties of being able to concentrate and work quietly when you need to.
So, you need to discuss this with him, with the conversation being in this vein; –
You know this isn’t a unique problem but it is hampering your performance, you could support him better if you were “in the loop”.
Can you suggest you sit just outside his office, and ask him to call you in whenever you need to be involved in something? You will need to be prepared to drop everything, without complaint, whenever he summons you.
Or maybe you need a regular briefing meeting – daily perhaps. Or a weekly review of current problems /issues, so that you can get up to speed.
Maybe you ask him to copy you in on most emails he sends, so you are privy to those events, and he doesn’t need to spend time briefing you.
You could mention that when he leaves on vacation, he will need to work closely with you for a couple of weeks prior to his departure if he expects you to have any chance of handling things in his absence. Discuss this with him again as soon as he books holidays.
It will be more difficult is if he goes off sick, which is why he needs to keep you close.
Mention it to him that you have been asked questions you can’t answer by senior managers, to illustrate the problem. Remember this problem is not unique to you, management know this is an ongoing difficulty in a fast moving situation.
If you have a performance management system, then this is the perfect place to discuss this sort of issue.
Keep trying your best, Rome was not built in a day!!