iTunes     Google Podcasts     Spotify     Stitcher     iHeart Radio

Episode Transcript

If you haven’t experienced this already, there will be times in your engineering career when you and your boss just aren’t on the same page.

Not that your boss doesn’t have good intentions. But there are differences between you. 

They could be caused by simple misunderstanding. Could be differences of opinion or management style. Or it could be a little more serious, affecting whether or not you get promoted.

Let’s dive into that today and look at some options for how you can address these situations.

Ideally you want you and your boss to be on the same page. To see eye to eye. And that’s often possible. 

But sometimes your philosophies are too different and distinct. And you have to work together as best you can despite that. 

There are, I admit, incompetent bosses and bosses you’ll never get along with. (And btw, if you’re being unfairly treated or harassed, there are more drastic measures you should take.) 

But most of the time that’s not the case. Usually the boss believes they’re doing their best. And it’s in your best interest to optimize the relationship between the 2 of you.

The good news is just because you and your boss aren’t on the same page doesn’t mean that your boss is out to get you. 

And more good news is that there are approaches you can take that will improve your interactions with this person and serve your engineering career well. 

Your Engineering Career and the Rift with Your Boss

Start by identifying the issues and the sticky points. Why is there a rift between you and your boss in the first place? Here are 3 examples that are typical for women engineers:

  1. You and your boss disagree on your career strategy, your job strategy (i.e., how to do your job), or what resources you need. 
  1. You’re feeling less included or less valued. And your boss doesn’t seem to give you visibility or listen to your ideas.
  1. Your boss disagrees that you’re ready for a certain opportunity. Like a promotion, a raise, or a new task or experience.

Whatever the reasons, it’s good to know specifically what they are. And be able to articulate them so that they’re easier to address.

Why You and Your Engineering Boss Don’t See Eye to Eye

Next, it helps big time to understand the why behind your boss’s actions. Bosses are people too. Put yourself in their shoes and see the world from their point of view. 

There are many perspectives that might explain where your boss is coming from. Consider things like: 

Each of these perspectives can have an effect on what your boss thinks and does. They reframe the situation so you can better understand where your boss is coming from. 

7 Engineering Career Strategies for Getting on the Same Page with Your Boss

Now you can begin to strategize your approach with your boss. 

The most powerful tool you have is communication, including self-advocacy. Use this to inform and promote understanding. 

Your second most powerful tool is outside perspectives. Getting input from people outside your situation and organization will broaden your awareness and bring new insights. 

Here are 7 engineering career strategies for getting on the same page with your boss:

  1. Err on the side of over-communicating to your boss. Remember that most bosses are busy and have many people reporting to them. Making time for everyone and keeping track of their work isn’t easy. 
  1. Communicate clearly what your concerns are. Share your career goals and your career message often. 

Make sure your boss is aware of your situation and your expectations for support.

  1. Regularly report your accomplishments and aspirations to your boss. Emphasize in particular what your impact has been to the organization.
  1. Demonstrate your commitment to your goals and the organization’s mission through your work. Give your boss the results and information they need to support you.
  1. Find others who can advocate for you besides your boss. Find mentors and share your accomplishments and aspirations with them, too. 

Connect with other managers and influential people within the organization. Learn their philosophies and share your career message with them.

  1. Expand your network by connecting with people outside your boss’s group and outside your organization. 

Use your network to get outside advocacy and find out about possible opportunities. 

  1. If the training and experiences you need exceed what your organization can provide, pursue external sources. 

You can fill in some of your gaps through professional associations, academic institutions and community resources.

It can be tricky to navigate interactions with a boss who doesn’t share your perspective. If you’d like to go deeper into today’s topic, sign up for a strategy session with me. 

Having someone to walk you through it can be much more effective. And will put you more at ease.

I invite you to apply the insights we’ve explored today. It might take some practice and persistence. But every step you take will remove tension between you and your boss. Even if you’re not quite on the same page.

Your boss will notice you’re making it easier for them to support you. You’ll notice an improvement in your self-advocacy skills.

You’ll be showcasing your professionalism while meeting the mission. And carving out the path to reach your engineering career vision

Next time on Her Engineering Career Podcast we’ll explore some simple practices for boosting your confidence. You won’t want to miss Episode 93.