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What to Say When the Boss Interferes with Productivity

Lawyer CoachingHandle Sensitive Conversations with Grace and Ease

Productivity can be a touchy subject among attorneys. The "my way or the highway" approach is common, but when one way interferes with another - sparks fly.

Take, for instance, management styles. While experts say it's best to adapt your personal style to that of your boss, what if his or her management style is so off-kilter... it interferes with your productivity?

What to do then?

Productivity expert Robert Pozen says then it's time to sit down and have a sensitive conversation with your boss.

In his book, Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours, Pozen writes there is nothing wrong with airing your differences with your boss IF you can do it gracefully.

"If you raise topics politely, explain your perspective on the issues, and stay away from personal attacks,most bosses will respond positively. Even better, go into that conversation with a suggestion or two that would lead to better results. You may think you're sticking your neck out, but if the conflict is there and neither of you addresses it, you are probably not long for that job anyway," said Pozen in an interview with HBS.

With regard to adapting your boss's style, experts don't mean it in the literal sense. Instead, Pozen says to focus on the big picture.

"By 'adapting,' I don't mean that your style needs to be the same as that of your boss, but you should be in sync and try to make sure your skills complement each other. For example, if your supervisor is a "big-picture" thinker, you could balance that by being detail-oriented. The notion is to understand your boss and position yourself accordingly. And if the differences you have with your boss are compromising your ability to do your job, you just have to take the leap and talk about it directly."

I encourage my clients to take a good look at Pozen's work. He has some great insight on the issues of flexible work hours, job overwhelm, and career planning.

"It takes a lot more than organizing your schedule to be productive, " say Pozen.

Martha Newman

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