Question: My boss sent me an invitation that says it is to talk to me about coaching me on instilling a sense of urgency in my team to get a new project done and giving hard feedback.  I was a little surprised because in the 2 years I've worked for this boss I've never gotten one word of feedback in any form outside of my review.  (My review was above average and without anything I needed to work on.  I do know I have things to work on though....)  I basically keep my boss informed of what I'm doing and operate pretty independently.  My boss has another group that has a lot of issues and I felt I am doing a good job of handling things.

I know that situation around this project is very tense and there is a lot of fear from that group about the fact that they are really missing their revenue numbers.  Should I clearly state the facts of I'm doing already or will that just sound like making excuses?

My other thought is I could say to my boss:  Let's figure out what I need coaching on.  I'm great on evaluating how I do with this situation.  Let's figure out how to measure how it working for awhile and come up with a plan based on that.  Having said that, I don't know if the boss will buy it because I've never had any coaching from this boss and no one I know has either!

Here's the situation.

At a meeting last week, the boss of the Product Manager of one the products I manage made some comments about my team not working effectively to get a new product out that we just started scoping out this month.  To make a long story short, it took me about 5 minutes to get him to actually give me a date of when they need it instead of "as soon as possible".  The boss of my PM made the comment that if we can't get it out by then we are doing something wrong because he contract it out and get it done.  I think this guy has to be really afraid of losing his job.  They milked a cash cow for too long and now need to do a lot to meet the competition.  I later talked to the Chief Software Architect of the company and he doesn't think it can be done in that time.  But I'm always the optimist!

I told the team the dates, asked them to think of options, set up a brainstorming meeting, sent emails & talked to other senior technical people to get them to think of ideas, etc.  I think I've got things well under control. I may not be able to get an answer they like but we are exploring everything we can think of.

jhack's picture

Ms Sunshine,

Let him lead.  I suspect he's responding to something above him (like pressure to pull this off successfully).  Let him define specifically where he sees you needing to improve, and then nudge him to brainstorming with you on how to address it.

If there are areas of the project he's concerned with, identify them clearly, and how you'll know when the problems are solved.  Then you'll have clear goals.  

Don't try to turn this into something generic if it's really just a response to the project.  Let that sit for now, focus on doing well.  Document everything.  

One more thing.  Take seriously what he might indicate are your weaknesses.  They might not match your list, but they're likely to be important for the levels above you.   

John Hack

jhbchina's picture

Re-listen to the Professional Update casts.

Hi Ms Sunshine,

I agree with John, let him talk, hear his coaching plan, and find a way to start having professional updates regularly, and soon you will be having O3's with your boss.

Wouldn't that be great!