Career Center Blog

January 10, 2013

A worker bee's letter to the boss


Your boss tells you to be a "self-starter," to follow through, to be flexible and patient and dependable and loyal. You're told there is no "I" in "team." You're told, "You should just be grateful you have a job."

For a complete change of pace, wouldn't you like to tell your boss a few things? Here are some ideas to get you started.

"Give me the tools I need to do a good job." Training, time, supplies, information, maybe a little authority -- these are what I need to succeed.

"Admit it when you make a mistake." It's the best way to earn my respect.

"Don't treat me like a cog in a machine." If I screw up, tell me. If someone else screws up, tell him/her. Don't blame the whole team.

"Ask my opinion." I could offer some good ideas if you listened to me even half as much as you expect me to listen to you.

"Please provide feedback." I can do a better job if you regularly let me know what I'm doing wrong and right.

"Don't hang me out to dry." If you aren't loyal to me, it is impossible for me to be loyal to you. Be a leader. Back me up!

"I can't hear you when you shout." Maybe someone once told you intimidation is a good management tool. Nope. Yelling just makes you look weak and ineffectual.

"Don't make me work with idiots." They poison the whole workplace.

"Set clear goals." And communicate them to me clearly.

"Don't set fake deadlines." There is no better way to lose the trust of people. Respect me enough to be honest.

"Be predictable." Erratic behavior forces me to spend less time working and more time worrying about what you're going to do next.

"Mentor me." Ask me about my goals. Help me develop and grow. I can do a fabulous job for you if you take an interest in me and my career. And that's a win-win.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at

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Karen Burns Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Kristen Fife Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.

Lisa Quast Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Randy Woods Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Former contributors

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."


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