Dear J.T. & Dale: My boss frequently dictates e-mails to me that he has me send to the entire company. Because he does not always do his homework and has given me incorrect information, I am flooded with people pointing out “my” mistake, since it came from my e-mail/signature. This is giving me a bad reputation. Do you have any advice on how to correct my tarnished image? – Andrea
J.T.: I definitely would encourage you to set ground rules with your boss going forward. This is your professional reputation at risk, and someday you will need references beyond your immediate boss.
Start by sitting him down and expressing your concern. Offer him two options: First, tell him you’re happy to type up his emails, but he should send them from his own account. If he says no, then tell him you will open each email you send with “This is a note from (BOSS’S NAME).” That should take care of it!
DALE: The English writer Joseph Hall said, “A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was.” A reputation for “not doing your homework” will be a drag on your future, and blaming the boss will simply be a new kind of crack for people to keep their eyes on.
But J.T.’s advice might be too aggressive. This idea of “sitting him down” to lecture him makes it sound like you’re reproaching a naughty puppy. He’s the boss, and if you insist that you don’t want to be associated with his emails, he’ll want to know why, and will then be all the more convinced that they should come from you.
So I’d offer two other options: First, tell him that the current process is confusing and that people respond to you when they mean to communicate with him, and then assure him that you want to “make sure he gets credit.”
Two, explain the problem and offer a solution – maybe a handful of people could get a preliminary draft of the emails, so that mistakes could be caught. Doing so, you raise yourself by raising him.
J.T.: I prefer the direct approach, but if you cannot be open and blunt with your boss, then go ahead and ease into it indirectly. Just make sure you fix this. For every one person who points out a mistake, there probably are 10 others who notice it but don’t bother to say anything. In other words, that’s a lot of people associating you with errors.
© 2012 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
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