Your manager gives you an assignment, and when you think you have a good handle how to proceed, you go off on your merry way.
You’re independent and a great employee, so you come back a few weeks later – the project complete. You’re confident because you worked hard and developed a good product. But much to your dismay, your boss isn’t happy. She has so many problems with it, you might as well start over. You thought you understood the assignment, but apparently your approach wasn’t what your manager was looking for at all.
Clarify the Message
This happens to all of us occasionally, but if it happens to you more frequently, you need to address the situation. Your boss may have an ongoing issue communicating expectations and/or details about her thinking, you may have trouble following instructions, or there is room to improve on both sides. And neither of you is going to be particularly productive if you don’t nip this one in the bud.
The next time your boss tries to delegate an assignment, don’t let her rush you out of the office (or off the phone). Speaking of which, do not accept a complex assignment over e-mail, IM, or social network because this is a misunderstanding waiting to happen. Insist on an actual conversation.
In this conversation, get step-by-step directions for how you should approach the project, including the resources you should tap, the content you should include, and the order in which you should accomplish individual tasks. If something doesn’t seem clear right away, ask about it now. Don’t leave the meeting until you have both agreed on exactly what it is you will be doing.
For more guidance on this very common scenario, check out the full post on Intuit's Fast Track blog.