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My boss and I have different working styles and I'm out of ideas for how to address this.

First, I want to be absolutely clear. On a personal level he and I get along great. We go out for a beer sometimes, and have been at some of the same gigs. I've met his partner and he mine. He's a good guy. Further, much as I might like it to be, this isn't an issue of me the brilliant model employee and my objectively unreasonable boss. This is just a difference in approaches where I don't think either of us are strictly "right".

However. I find he changes his mind about approaches too often. We will, as a team, agree an approach to an issue. Or minimally, I consider that approach agreed. He, though, changes his mind about how we're doing this and, in the best case, renders some work I have done towards it no longer relevant. In the worst case, in one specific instance, he changed his mind about how to manage an event we were running on the day of the event, leaving no one with any clue what was happening and the event, predictably, a disaster. That's an extreme example though, normally there is more notice than that.

Due to our different personal situations, he doesn't mind the occasional late night or weekend work or whatever if a task is nearing a deadline and stuff needs doing. My longer commute and different home life though mean I don't like to do that if it can be avoided.

Again, I'm very conscious that I'm phrasing this as if he is solely to blame but that's a function of me writing this not him. I can be inflexible in other areas and its likely I'm being here. It has been noted that I "close" conversations unexpectedly quickly in other contexts and it seems reasonable to assume I'm doing so here. However the combination of our two ways of working is not very good and it leaves me very stressed as I never feel like I know whats going on or what I should be doing.

I tried, last month, writing up my understanding of the conversation we had had and putting it as a Google Doc that he could edit along with a note saying "here's what I think is going on. Am I right? You have editing rights to the document so let me know if there's anything I've missed or misunderstood". He changed a couple of minor points but nothing of substance. Today I learn that we're changing huge swathes of this and I'm gonna end deleting a bunch of files. Its not that this new way is terrible - in truth, it has some advantages - its just that it isn't what I thought we were doing.

I've also tried discussing it with him and with his line manager (which is appropriate given our structure, there's no suggestion that this is going over his head or behind his back or anything). He agrees that there is a mismatch here but can't see what to do with it. His line manager essentially said "oh you know what is like" and didn't really offer anything constructive.

I'm looking for other strategies to try, conversational points to raise, tactics, etc. to try to resolve this situation and would appreciate any suggestions.


In response to a request for clarification: The issue is that his working style leaves me feeling I don't know what's going on and what actions I should be taking whereas mine, I sense, leaves him feeling pressured into making decisions before he's ready.

  • This is very vague. Is the "clash of working styles" just that he changes his mind often? – Tvde1 Jun 28 at 12:31
  • Apologies. In essence, yes. It's that his working style leaves me feeling I don't know what's going on and what actions I should be taking whereas mine, I sense, leaves him feeling pressured into making decisions before he's ready. I will edit this response into the question. – MrB Jun 28 at 12:38
  • This is rather long at present - can you narrow it down to the most specific, important points? – berry120 Jun 28 at 13:55
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As a compromise, you and your manager could negotiate a change process. The change process should include analysis of both costs and benefits of the proposed change. The manager would remain the ultimate decision maker, but only after considering costs as well as benefits.

Neither of you would get exactly what you want. In some cases, the analysis will make it clear that the cost of the change totally outweighs any benefits, and it should not be done. In other cases, you will have to change what you are doing, but only after your information about costs has been considered.

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