While transparency in the workplace is all the rage, there are still a few things that your boss or manager may not reveal to you in a one-on-one conversation or meeting. And that’s no real surprise, right? When you think of “things your boss won’t tell you,” employees’ minds may instantly jump to big announcements and corporate secrets. However, there are some tidbits that won’t make front-page news, but that a boss still won’t tell you.
Don’t believe us?! We asked a few managers and directors to dish on the sentences they’d almost never utter to their teams. Shhh, don’t tell them that we spilled the beans. Here are 10 things your boss won’t tell you:
1. “Take a vacation. You should work less.”
Nine times out of ten, a boss will never tell you to go on vacation. You’re too valuable. Plus, if you’re lounging on a beach somewhere, who is going to do the boss’s work?! Be proactive and take charge of your time off to recharge when you need to, rather than waiting for a nudge from your manager.
2. “I’m not the only one responsible for your promotion.”
It’s common to think that your direct manager holds the proverbial keys to your professional future. However, in most organizations promotions follow unwritten rules set by human resources, senior executives and your manager. While a boss may not admit to this democratic process, you should be aware. In climbing the corporate ladder, your boss is not the be-all and end-all — even if she or he may act like it sometimes.
3. “Your reputation is just as important as your work product.”
Wondering why a colleague with the same credentials and experience was promoted before you? They might just have a better reputation around the company than you do. Those with mentors will be told this little gem, while those who grumble under their breath about how unfair the boss is may not understand that it’s not just what you do, but how you do it. For those with philosophical leanings, Gandhi said, “A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done, of what he can do, nothing else.” Bookmark that.
4. “You’re in a dead-end job.”
Even if you and your boss go out for the occasional beer or Taco Tuesday, chances are he or she won’t become so comfortable to reveal that the job you spend forty-plus hours a week working at is a dead end. Instead, you’ll have to harness your inner mind-reader and take stock of the office. If you look around and see that others are unable to move up or expand their roles — it’s a dead-end job. If you talk to your boss about your dreams and career goals and they smile or smirk — it’s a dead-end job. If the office resembles a revolving door — it’s a dead-end job. Take the hint.
5. “I am stressed out. It’s not about you.”
Managers who are sometimes short-tempered, send curt emails or dismiss you without acknowledgment may not despise you as an employee — they may just not be able to tell you how stressed they are. Pressure from senior executives or looming deadlines may be to blame, but often times bosses don’t or can’t convey that. Remember, even though they are in a position of power, bosses are not always able to keep a smile on their faces or reassure you.
6. “You know more about your job than I do.”
I’ve never had a boss who admitted that they did not know more than I did. Chances are that you’ve never had a boss that candid either. That’s okay. But deep down, you know your boss can’t understand that spreadsheet of data. Ha! Employee: 1. Boss: 0.
7. “I’m unqualified to be your manager.”
While few bosses will admit to not understanding a concept, an even tinier fraction of the manager population will concede that they are unqualified. Perhaps it goes against the Boss Code of Ethics. Whatever the reason, don’t hold your breath for a boss to ever utter these six words.
8. “No one knows you.”
One of the best lessons author Patty Azzarrello shares in her book Rise: How to be Really Successful at Work AND Like Your Life is, “Good work doesn’t stand on its own. Build your credibility with the people who can help (or black-list) you.” Remember to build partnerships and be valuable in other parts of the organization than just your team. “Successful people are widely known for the extra value they contribute to the business, not just doing their jobs really well. They have risen above the work and proven their greater, farther-reaching value to their companies.”
9. “I’m reading your emails, IMs and browser history.”
According to a new study from the American Management Association, nearly 80 percent of major companies now monitor employees’ use of e-mail, Internet or phone. The AMA surveyed 1,627 large and mid-sized firms about workplace monitoring and surveillance. The survey also found that companies were using the information they gathered to punish transgressions. More than a quarter of the companies surveyed said they have fired employees for misusing office e-mail or the Internet, and 65 percent had disciplined workers.
10. “You are in charge.”
This is perhaps the biggest secret many managers withhold from their direct reports. Some bosses prefer to operate with an authoritarian, “my way or the highway” persona. However, what employees — especially young workers — may not know is that there’s only one person in control of your career: you. “You have more control than you think,” writes Azzarello. “You need to recognize that it is up to you to make things happen in your career, without counting on standard company and management processes. These days, if anything, the standard company and management processes are set against you!”