Get advice on how to deal with jerks at work Check out the book 'Jerks At Work' and other titles by Ken Lloyd Ph.D. Return to the homepage Learn more about Ken Lloyd, Ph.D. Submit a question to Ken Lloyd, Ph.D.

You asked, Ken answers ...

This item is filed under these categories:
Communication Career Planning Power Plays and Players Promotions Self-Insight

My boss told me that I am trying too hard to get his job, and I should pay more attention to my own work. My work is going well and I don't think it needs any more attention from me. Besides, I thought most bosses want an employee who is motivated to move up. What's my boss's problem?

Apparently, your boss thinks the problem is you. The real issue is a breakdown in communication between the two of you. You feel that you are working diligently to get your job done, while your boss feels that you are working diligently to get his job.

When a boss has an employee whose goal is to advance, that can be quite advantageous since it facilitates the boss's own chances for promotion. Many of the best bosses try to hire people who have potential and motivation to move into more senior positions, while insecure bosses see such individuals as threats.

However, it is possible for an employee to be too motivated to move into his or her boss's position. This is the type of individual who intentionally makes the boss look bad in front of others and plays every political card in the deck. For this employee, pushing for advancement means pushing the boss out the door.

Since you and your boss are looking at the same behaviors and viewing them very differently, you should meet to clarify expectations, standards, and objectives. It is important for both of you to have an understanding of your career path and the speed limit on it.

Comment on this item

Your name (optional)
If you leave this blank, we'll list you as "Website visitor"

Your comments
Please keep your comments focused on the topic. Thanks!