Thursday, June 5, 2014
Ask An Election Nerd: My Boss Is Dropping the Ball
I have experience managing state and local campaigns, and I was hired on as a deputy campaign manager for a state senate race. The campaign manager really talked herself up and I liked her style at first, but now it seems that she doesn't know what she's doing. How do I handle this situation? The candidate is awesome and has the foundation to win, but needs a good campaign to do it. How do you approach your boss when you think she's dropping the ball?
Oh that stinks! Sometime on campaigns the people who talk the best game act the most lame. I can also absolutely empathize with your situation and I know how frustrating it can be. You want the campaign to be the best it can be and also, it's hard not to resent your campaign manager.
Even when I love and respect my bosses, I have a tendency to "manage up." I proactively suggest that I take on responsibility and actively (some might say annoyingly) hold my managers accountable for the resources they are responsible for getting me to do my job. Managing up is not always a bad thing, but it does need to be done delicately. If you feel your boss might miss out on some of the basics, can you suggest that you take care of them? "Do we have a press list somewhere? Should I just throw one together in case?" Even if your CM feels this should be her responsibility, at least you've gotten it on her radar. You can also point-blank suggest that you take over some of her responsibilities. "Now that we're gearing up I've noticed you have to spend a lot more on your plate. You know my background is in field, so would it help if I sort of took over the volunteer stuff and just reported back to you?" It's important to make clear that you are not trying to challenge her authority, merely to make the best use of your skills to contribute to the team.
I would also suggest requesting regularly scheduled meetings or one on ones where you can discuss your goals and responsibilities for that week. That way, if you think of something the campaign should be doing that it currently isn't, you already have a structured venue in which to address it.
It's not always easy being the smartest person in the room! (But I hope that helps.)
Campaign Love and Mine,
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