Whether or not you're happy at work could boil down to the type of manager you have. A great boss who's supportive, insightful, and encouraging can make the toughest workdays easier, while a demanding, micromanaging boss can make you want to pull your own hair out or quit.
But what happens when you have a boss who's decent overall, but a poor communicator? If that's the case, you may find that you're often in the dark about company and team happenings, and that you're constantly starved for direction on key projects, which, in turn, affects your performance. Here's how to deal with this frustrating but all-too-common scenario.
1. Ask more questions
If your boss isn't the type to proactively reach out and share information or instructions, be the one to initiate those conversations. Regularly ask your manager what's on his or her mind and where his or her priorities lie, and don't hesitate to request more details on the work you're assigned. That way, you're less likely to spin your wheels or risk doing things incorrectly.
2. Figure out which communication channel your boss prefers
Some managers are really bad at replying to emails. Others don't do well in live conversations. Aim to determine which communication method will best help you get through to your boss, and use it to your advantage.
3. Request a recurring one-on-one meeting
Sometimes, managers communicate poorly because they're really strapped for time. If you suspect that's the case with your boss, you can mitigate the problem by asking for a weekly or biweekly sit-down -- a meeting that entitles you to his or her full attention for a preset period of time. That meeting can be as quick as 15 minutes, or it can be longer, and your boss' schedule will likely dictate its length. But if you go in prepared with an agenda, you'll be better equipped to make the most of that time and get the information and insight you need from your boss.
4. Be honest about the problem
Sometimes, managers need to hear that they're falling down on the communication front. If your boss falls into that category, diplomatically explain that you feel that communication is an issue. But don't just call your manager out -- instead, discuss the ways better communication will help you serve his or her needs. For example, you might say, "I often find that I lack instructions when you ask me to prepare reports. I really want those reports to be useful to you, so please, explain how I can do better." When you put it that way, it's an easy enough request to comply with, and one that shouldn't result in backlash.
Working for a poor communicator isn't necessarily the worst thing in the world, especially if your boss has other redeeming qualities, and you generally enjoy your job. Still, it's a situation that can prove quite challenging over time. Take the preceding steps to address the problem, and with any luck, things will slowly but surely improve.