Man about town

Managing my boss turns out to be tricky


Last week, we had an all-day workshop to discuss our plans for 2020. In my previous company, we used to make the plans in December. I was told that here we do them by mid-November so that the head office reviews “them and approves them.”

The workshop is a huge affair and we had some interns tasked with the process of putting together and collating the presentations. One of the interns came to my desk and told me, “Josphat, I just wanted to let you know that you have been allotted 15 minutes to talk about your plans for 2020.”

The truth of the matter is that I have hardly spent any time formulating my plans; all I have been trying to do is to learn as much as possible.

I decided to reach out to Ken and ask for help on how to sort out my problem. He chuckled and said, “you need not worry, just take a look at what we did last year, go to our home webpage, pick a few buzz words and then you are good to go.” I had to ask him, “Where do I find the information?” He laughed and said, “surely, you must have been taken through our records management system during your induction.” I chuckled and said, “ I have had no induction, I have been learning on the go.” His face turned serious and said,” Listen! If you do not get your induction process properly sorted things could get hairy later.” I asked him what do you mean? He responded, “Your boss should ensure that you get a full induction and he should also ensure that he sets out the performance objectives that you are meant to achieve during the probation period. HR will not confirm you without some evidence and paper trail.”

This was useful information because I was now six weeks in and I had no clue what my boss expected of me. To be honest, I have not seen much of my boss Patrick since he travels a lot. He sends me lots of email instructions from wherever he is asking me to do this and that. I therefore decided to take advantage of his being around by walking into his office (he is one of the few guys who has an office). I told him, “Patrick, I just wanted to catch up with you so that we can get a sense of how I am faring so far and also expectations.”


He chuckled and said, “you are taking things too seriously, I think you are doing fine. I have heard amazing things about how you have been holding fort while I was away. You need not worry.” A part of me wanted to end this conversation at this point but I remembered what Ken had said. I said, “thanks for the feedback but I have booked some time in your diary so that we can discuss this further and develop a proper dashboard.” Patrick must have realised that he had no wiggle room and said, “that is good initiative and I look forward to our chat.”

So later that afternoon we had that “chat.” It proved useful because I then learnt more about my boss Patrick as he said, “this is my last job here, I would have left ages ago but these wazungus [white people] do not want to pay me off.” He kept giving me unnecessary information about his family and his career highlights and it took us so long to settle down on his expectations. At the end of our session he gave me three key objectives to achieve though he said to me,” all you need to know is that you need to make me look good to the bosses always.” I also insisted on setting up bi-weekly catchups to “track progress” as Patrick offered to even have “phone catch-ups.” As I walked out of the office, I felt that managing my boss is going to be harder than I imagined.