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Like most people, you want everyone to like you – including your boss. Maybe you’re still in the fairy-tale stage of your career and thinking that your boss is your friend, or perhaps you have entered reality and know that your boss is, well – just your boss. It’s easy for the line to be blurred, especially if you have an awesome boss – but there are still boundaries not to cross to protect your career. Remember: information is ammunition. 😉

Never Tell Your Boss…

1. “I’m looking for another job.”

I know you want to jump up and down and tell me that your boss is just as miserable as you and that they are supportive of the search, but this topic should always remain off limits.

Case in point – I used to work at a company where they encouraged you to tell them when you were ready to move on so they could help you transition and leave on good terms. They announced this at an all-employee meeting, with a very young (in their careers) audience. Someone took them up on it and let them know that she was ready to transition into a new career. Instead of “working with her” to help her transition, they fired her on the spot and walked her out of the building.

Lesson – this knowledge is ammunition. And I have seen it more than the case in point above. I have seen vice president’s fired without notice because their boss got word that they were looking around. This is a HUGE no-no. If you are looking for a job, do it stealthy or don’t do it at all.

2. “I’m having a rough time at home.”

I know, you just gasped. Work is… work, not an outlet for you to fall apart about your personal life. (Sorry to be so brash). There are things that happen to us in our personal lives that will spill over and effect our work-life. But do the absolute best you can to go into any details with your boss – and hold it together.

Case in point – I saw an employee who had been a true superstar in the eyes of the leadership team, lose her standing because she was struggling with being a new mom and transitioning back into the workforce. She told her manager about the trouble she was having and her uncertainty with being able to work full-time, etc. From that MOMENT on, when her name was brought up for promotions or fun projects, she was deemed as not being committed to the company – two years after the fact.

Lesson – your personal life needs to stay as personal as possible. If you are struggling, take some time off, talk to a professional, take advantage of employee assistance programs. But do not lean on your boss’ shoulder for support – it can negatively impact your career for years to follow.

3. “That  project/task/request is below or above my pay grade.”

It happens more than we care to admit – getting assigned tasks that seem utterly ridiculous or well beyond the scope of your role. But saying those words (which people really do!), will kill your career in its tracks.

Case in point – I worked with an employee who took on a project that was “above his pay grade.” He loved working on the project, but he mentioned those words in an update to his boss. The result – he was immediately taken off the project and squeezed out of any other “fun projects” that were out of his daily responsibilities. He was then looked at as a clock-puncher, unambitious, and a complainer – none of which you want uttered to describe you.

Lesson – if you are asked to do something “below” you, just freaking do it. Or find a way to delegate it without being petty. The amount of time it will usually take you to complete the task is less than the lasting impact of complaining. If the task is too big, figure out a way to ask for guidance/assistance or additional support, instead of passing it off as something you aren’t qualified to work on. A small distinction, but critical in the way you are perceived.

Look for more things to avoid talking to your boss about in the upcoming weeks. 

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Jason Paul says:

    Many moons ago when I was barely in the workforce flippin’ burgers at Burger World, I made the mistake thinking that my boss (who was only a few years my senior) was my “friend”. Ooops. We’d slack off on the clock with my rationalization (poor judgement, I know) that if the boss was doing it, I guess it’s okay. Well once he was on the hot seat with HIS boss, first thing he did was throw all of us under the bus. I learned a valuable lesson that day – your boss is just that, your boss. Even if you are cordial after working hours, they’ll still have to manage you eventually.