Three Ways to Ask for Better Direction From Your Boss

Lauren Krause
Posted by in Administrative & Clerical Services

Not every boss enjoys working with people, and many lack communication skills. If you think you're doing your job properly but routinely find yourself in hot water for presenting poorly completed projects, it may be time to ask your boss for better direction. No one likes criticism, so keep these three points in mind when approaching your superior.

Focus on Your Job Performance

Your goal is to improve your job performance, so the best approach is to focus on your needs as they relate to performing your job better. For example, you can say the following: "I need clear instructions so I can make sure I'm completing each task correctly." Avoid criticizing your boss or mentioning his lack of communication skills, and avoid "you" statements at all costs. For example, do not say: "You do not give me enough direction." Better direction will come when your boss clearly understands your needs. If your boss feels like you're criticizing him, he might get defensive, and your the situation might become worse.

After explaining your needs, give concrete suggestions on how better direction could be achieved and how it can improve your performance. Some suggestions include requesting weekly meetings and daily emails for improved communication. If your boss is frequently out of the office or otherwise unavailable, ask if there is someone else in the department to whom you could report to during his absence.

Request Help Prioritizing

Poor direction often occurs as a result of not knowing which tasks take priority. Ask your boss to keep you abreast of his priorities. Regular priority updates may be enough extra direction to improve the situation. Whenever you get a new task, ask where it fits in terms of priority in comparison to your current tasks. If you feel overwhelmed with too many responsibilities, have a discussion with your boss to alert him to the situation. Many times, managers delegate new responsibilities without giving much thought to the current responsibilities of their administrative support staff. Making a clear request for help with prioritizing lets your boss know that you take each task seriously, and it gives your boss a gentle reminder about all the work you do.

Ask for Direction in Writing

If your boss frequently finds problems with your work, it a good idea to ask for clear direction in writing. This could take the form of a brief daily email or a longer weekly email. If your responsibilities rarely change, written instructions for new tasks when they are assigned may be all that is required. Written directions give you something to refer back to as you complete your work. They also give you protection from criticism when you have completed an assignment correctly. Simply refer your boss back to the written directions to show that you did in fact do your work correctly. Getting new responsibilities in writing will ensure better direction from your manager in the future.

Getting better direction from your boss requires assertiveness on your part. Do not be afraid to step up and request clear direction regarding your job responsibilities. If you carefully phrase your request as it relates to your needs, focus on priorities and ask for written instructions, the situation is likely to improve, and your boss might just thank you for your organizational help.

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