Need This Job

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I just lost the better part of a sleepless weekend to worry and fear. My
boss, who is usually a smart and insightful person, has a new boss. I
guess technically that means I do too, but my job is primarily to
support my department head and the folks we work with. On Friday
afternoon, at 4:00 she comes to me with one of the most hare-brained
ideas I have ever heard about a “departmental reorganization to
effectively respond to changes in budgetary priorities and possible
imminent staffing changes.” I can’t even say it without gagging, and I
am pretty sure my colleagues don’t even know this is coming down on
us. I think my boss is trying to &%*$ up to her boss. When she told
me her ideas, I said “That’s just bad thinking.” It came out without
hesitation. My boss glared at me, said “We’ll talk Monday,” and stalked
off. What should I do?

Need This Job

Dear Need This Job:

A valuable generality first: Any time someone, anyone not just your
boss, comes to you with an idea on a Friday afternoon, you should
have a simple two-line answer: That’s a lot to think about. Can we get
together Monday and really work on it together?

Your current situation is more delicate. A weekend without sleep and
with too much fear and worry won’t help, but do your best to stay
calm. Email your boss a quick Can we talk this morning? Asap. When
you get in, close the door and apologize. Something simple like, I’m
sorry I over-reacted Friday. I was just taken aback at the thinking of
the new higher boss who doesn’t really know who we are and what we
do yet. It may have been your boss’s bad thinking you were really
responding to, but shift the focus. Be prepared to say at least three
good things about the bad plan, and then to have some suggestion to
amend it. If you can disguise substantive remediation as something
more benign, all the better. But go in prepared with an assessment of
what’s most important to you, what you hope to have as an outcome,
what you’re prepared to let go of, and what you’re prepared to fight
for. This is one battle in a much longer war. Don’t use all your ammo
in the first round. PS Walking in with muffins and/or fruit will help.