What to do when your boss won’t stay in his or her lane

Ever wish your supervisor would stay in his or her lane? Rather than empowering you to do your job, does he or she sometimes do it for you?

(Getty Images)

If your boss is taking away all your autonomy at work, it may be time to speak up. (Getty Images)

Government employee Cheryl, whose name has been changed for this post, says she is extremely frustrated with her supervisor, Sally, whose name has also been changed. Cheryl said her supervisor “gives her zero autonomy to do her work.”

“My boss constantly steps in to complete tasks for me. It’s like she doesn’t think I’m capable of getting things done. It feels really undermining,” Cheryl said.

Cheryl, who is the purchasing agent in her department, says Sally crossed the line when she ordered $150,000 in software programming without consulting with her.

“We were preparing to upgrade our software within the department. I was vetting the best possible option for us, when my boss stepped in and ordered a program that was not only pricey but completely unresponsive to our needs,” she said. “In this case she made a costly mistake that could have been avoided if only she had trusted me to do my part.”

Emily Wilkerson, a retired San Francisco-based leadership coach, says she knows all too well the challenges that result when a boss is impeding workers from doing their work. She said that the supervisor and subordinate both have a responsibility to resolve any issues. “And I recommend resolving them quickly,” she said laughing.

“The subordinate worker should never let things fester,” Wilkerson said. “Have a conversation with the boss. Let him or her know you wish to speak freely, but respectfully. Maybe start off by saying something like ‘You want to collaborate to accomplish department or company goals, but feel as though you are not being afforded the opportunity.’ ”

“Supervisors who are impeding workers from performing need to get honest and apologize. They might consider saying something like ‘I realize I’ve been doing this, I want to apologize and I try to refrain continuing it,’ ” she said.

Wilkerson says supervisors shouldn’t be afraid to rely on their team to get the job done.

“Remember, you don’t need to have all the answers,” she said. “Just be willing to listen to those who do. The last thing you want to do is run off good talent.”

Kia Croom