I am the only person that works with my boss and he knows some things about the stuff I work on, but he is not an expert. Sometimes he tells me to do something that he thinks would be easy, but it is actually not trivial and when I don't get it done I sometimes get blamed for it. How can I deal with this and let him know this something is not trivial to do, like he thinks it is?
How to deal with this and let him know this something is not trivial to do like he thinks it is.
You just do it. When your boss says "I need X done by Thursday" and you think you won't be able to do it, you don't nod and trod off, you say "Sorry boss, this is complicated, I will most likely not get it done by that time. If you give me a few minutes to look things up, I can give you a better estimate."
Then come up with an estimate of your own. Present it to your boss. Maybe you even misunderstood them and they don't want all that complicated stuff. Or maybe they do. You told them how long you will need. If they insist on doing it in less time, give them options of what to leave out to be done on time. Alternatively, ask for assistance or training to be better. If they ignore all of that, that's on them. If they blame you anyway, it's time to get a better boss.
This is an American-centric perspective: I'm not really familiar with professional culture outside of the US. Extrapolate with care.
Personal relationships are all about managing expectations. Work relationships are (albeit a special type of) personal relationships.
Most likely your boss (very reasonably) has some expectations of you including:
- You accomplish tasks
- You manage the lifecycle of #1
Managing task lifetimes? Wait, isn't that my boss' job?
No. That is most definitely not your boss' job. When bosses attempt to perform that role it's called micromanagement and it is justly reviled.
Your question is lacking detail that would lead to a more definitive conclusion, but I'd still wager that you think your boss is upset you're failing at #1 when the actual problem is that you're failing at #2, because I see this crop up all the time in dysfunctional manager/subordinate relationships.
So what does "managing the task lifecycle" look like? It looks like proactively dealing with problems and setbacks. If you go to your boss a month before a deadline and say the deadline is in jeopardy, you're going to get a very different reaction than if you just blow through the deadline. If you are asked to do something and it's way more complicated than the asker realized, you are expected to explain why. If the business need is such that you have to do it anyway, you are expected to help brainstorm potential workarounds or a reduction in scope for the task that meets the deadline and still solves the business problem.
So, those are expectations your boss almost certainly has of you. Whether or not you are meeting them you will have to negotiate with that person. But what about the flip-side? What expectations do you have of your boss? If your expectation of your boss is that they not have the above expectations of you, you are going to have a very unpleasant career.
Is your expectation that your boss have a better understanding of tasks outside of their area of expertise? You're the SME (Subject Matter Expert) here. A manager will rarely have the luxury of understanding in detail all of the components of a complex task, and they will (again, reasonably) expect you to break it down with an eye towards solutions rather than just stating that something is "hard" or "won't work".
Most people in my experience do not explicitly sit down and write out what expectations they have of their boss and what they imagine the expectations are that their boss has of them, but it can be instructive to do so. Most bosses do not sit down and write all this out either, they expect people (often unfairly IMO) to "just know" how to be "professional"--doubly so because those bosses are largely drawn from the ranks of people who intuitively understand all of this without needing someone to spell it out and/or people who were mentored in the professional mien without being explicitly told that they were being taught good professional habits (i.e. one or more of their early jobs were at places where people modeled these habits well and they picked it up via osmosis).
It's easy: "talk to your boss!"
When your description of the interaction is reduced to, "he tells you something .. [I think that] he thinks it would be easy .. I get blamed for it," then the two of you (probably: you) are not talking.
Tomorrow morning, ask your boss to meet you at the nearest local coffee shop. Buy him/her a coffee. Express your concerns. Then: [shaddup and] listen. Neither of you are adversaries.
(Full disclosure: spoken from the boss's side ...)
Sometimes he tells me to do something that he thinks would be easy, but it is actually not trivial
Do you tell him that the task is not that trivial? Do you try to explain why is more complex than he thinks? Do you give him a reasonable estimation of how long it will take?
and when I don't get it done I sometimes get blamed for it
If your boss and you agree that X amount of work has to be done by X date and by that date, the work is not done and your boss does not know why, you are the one to blame.
Is just about managing expectations. Negotiate with him a reasonable deadline, and in the very first moment you think that there is a chance of not meeting that deadline, go and talk to him. This way, he will be able to manage his bosses/clients expectations to... and he cannot blame you of anything, as you are fulfilling your agreements with him.
Just tell him! If you can't get things done in time, it's your fault. Why? Because your inability to adjust others expectations is automatically accepting fate. If your boss asks you to climb Mt. Everest and you don't say anything but simply complain on the internet, then you are at fault and only you, regardless of the tasks.
I see these questions pop up everywhere. Have people forgotten that they are not only able but expected to COMMUNICATE with upper people? If you fear that saying anything that upper people don't agree with will cost you your job, then you shouldn't be working in such a yes-man position anyway (for your own good).
- Tell him right away and explain why xyz will take longer or needs further research etc.
- You say nothing, your boss (who may or may not be a good person we don't know), thinks that you'll solve the task with no issues since there wasn't a single ounce of complaining or even discussion (<- Which means more and more difficult tasks since he has a new perspective of your skill even though you tirelessly barely completed said task).
- Find a job that suits your skills and mindset (Worst case scenario, we are internet-strangers, we don't know you. Maybe you aren't qualified for the position, we don't know).
Any of these options will yield a better result than passively complaining.