ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition — May 2003

In This Issue
Seeing Groups–
and the World–
in a New Way
AQP’s National Team Excellence Awards Diary
Ask the PowerPhrase® Expert
Looking Toward the Future



AQP Connections
Articles in Brief
News Bites
What’s Up?
Out of Context
Book Nook

May 2003 News for a Change—Home Page

NFC Index

AQP Home

Ask the PowerPhrase® Expert

Here’s our last installment of the column by Meryl Runion, a communications expert who wrote the book, PowerPhrases! The Perfect Words to Say It Right and Get the Results You Want.

I have worked at my current job for a little more than six years and in that time I have managed to move up in the company. I am always hearing praises from my boss, and other people are always telling me that the owner goes on and on about how wonderfully I’m doing. My boss is also my best friend.

To make a long story short, I am doing all of the things someone else in my position would do, but I still have not been given the job title officially. I also am still punching a time clock instead of being on salary, and this is really starting to bother me.

I recently heard from my boss that the owner said to give me a raise. To my surprise, it was much lower than I had anticipated. I do not consider myself unappreciative, but I thought at least I would go on salary. How in the world can I talk to my boss without ruining our friendship?

The PowerPhrase Expert: I always recommend that managers steer away from friendships with subordinates, and here I see an unusual example of why that works best. It is hard to be objective when you have a personal relationship with someone you supervise. My guess is that your disappointments are affecting your friendship now as well.

I suggest the same thing that I would if you weren’t best friends with your boss. Document all the ways you are doing your job and the salary you should make according to your performance. Then, clearly and specifically ask for what you want and believe you deserve. Say, “These are the services I have been performing. This is the range of salary that my research shows are standard for this work. My research shows me that being on salary is standard for this position; therefore, I am requesting a raise to $x and to go on salary. I am aware there is concern that this might bring up the question of favoritism in a few minds. Would you be comfortable with me discussing the matter with the owner and asking for a specific recommendation from him/her?”

You sound like you have not been saying what you mean to avoid damaging your relationship with your friend/boss. In actuality, this ultimately damages the relationship. If the friendship doesn’t have room for you to express your needs, it isn’t much of a friendship. So take a risk!

I recently ran across a termination letter that my boss wrote for me. I know that when it comes to being on time, I really struggle; I’m usually 10 to 15 minutes late. I was sick for four days, and I guess this made her decision a lot easier.

I know things about my supervisor that probably could get her fired, but I don’t want to play that game. She is not a very good role model for a boss. She contradicts herself when she wants me to be on time but seems to make her own hours and never lets us know when she will be in or not. We also have a supervisor over all of us including her. What should I do about my termination letter?

The PowerPhrase Expert: Are you completely certain that you want your job on its terms? Difficulty getting to work on time is usually a reflection of weak interest and commitment.

If you do want your job, you need to speak strongly to what you are willing to do. You might say, “I believe that my tardiness has become a problem. If it has, please let me know, and I will take steps to make sure that I am here on time in the future. I would like to discuss that issue and anything else that may be affecting my performance with you, as well as things I can do to be a more effective employee.”

If you want the job, but there are some things that haven’t been working for you and you are willing to take a risk, you might say, “I have become aware that my tardiness is unacceptable. I believe my tardiness reflects my discomfort with some of our work practices. I want to talk with you about how we can work together in a way that works well for us both. Are you open to that?”

If you are terminated before you get to address the situation, I suggest that you explore options to continue with the company. It sounds like the termination was a surprise, and that’s never the way it should be. Although I usually do not suggest arguing with termination, if you weren’t given clear performance expectations as well as consequences of continued poor performance, it’s worth a try!

MERYL RUNION began her career by designing effectiveness measures for use by police departments all across the country. Runion has a master’s degree in the science of creative intelligence and is certified as a stress management expert. She is known as a speaker and author across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. You may contact her via e-mail at .

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