Good communication skills should be a minimum requirement for promotion to management, but too often that doesn’t seem to be the case. Instead, you might find that your boss is a poor communicator, and you have to cope with that unsatisfactory situation. Unless you find a way to deal with it successfully, you might find yourself heading out the door sooner than expected–either voluntarily or involuntarily. In view of that possibility, it’s essential that you take steps before crunch-time arrives.
Your boss might believe he/she is doing a good job of communicating but you’re not getting the message. That might be right–maybe you’re not listening as carefully as you should, not asking questions to clarify ambiguities, etc. However, if you’re a good listener and understand how to make sure you’re moving in the right direction if your boss gives you a reasonable idea of what that is, the problem might not lie with you. You might have a boss who is a poor communicator, especially with regard to expectations for your job performance. For example:
If the boss is someone you want to continue working for, you can try to strengthen the lines of communication. One option is to request regular, short meetings to compare notes on performance goals your boss has approved and your progress toward those goals. As much as possible, avoid generalities and statements that might sound as if you’re on the defensive. Strive for facts and figures that can be backed up and that clearly indicate completion of or strong progress toward specific goals.
Anticipate comments about what hasn’t been done that was supposed to be and provide a reasonable explanation (again, without sounding defensive). Express your 100% commitment to making those things happen at the earliest possible moment. Communicate your dedication to meeting the needs of the company and link the actions you have taken and plan to take to the benefits they will bring to the company.
However, if the situation doesn’t yield to your efforts to achieve effective communication with your boss so you can do your job at the highest level of effectiveness and meet his/her stated goals, you might have limited options to choose from. Planning your exit strategy at that point could be the wisest choice you can make.