"Wouldn't it be nice if every boss came with a standard API [Application Programming Interface]? It would be so easy to look at the interface specifications and know exactly what he expected, in what format he expected it, when you should deliver it, what predictable events would result from your input and how you should handle error conditions. All the politics would go away. Those pesky emotions would become a nonissue. Success would become deterministic.
"Sadly, it will never be so simple. Every boss-subordinate connection is a custom job. This is both the promise and the pain of workplace relationships; they are cobbled together not of hardware or software, but of wetware (the gray, squishy stuff between our ears).
"The complaints about this are endless from the subordinate side. 'I don't know what he wants, and he won't tell me.' 'She doesn't really understand what I do, so she can't tell me what she expects.' 'He tells me one thing, and then when I give it to him, he changes his mind.' 'She says that I have an attitude problem, but I don't really know what that means.'
"As it turns out, the inability to forge easily understandable, straightforward, repeatable relationships is just as frustrating for bosses as it is for subordinates. Supervisors would love to be able to clearly articulate exactly what they expect so that all their people would understand. Sadly, many managers erroneously believe that they have clearly defined and communicated their expectations, and they just can't figure out why no one else seems to get their vision."