Michael Wade wrote a really candid note every Boss should print & sign before giving copies to their employees. While you can (& should) read the full thing, a highlight to push you on the way:
I expect you to take initiative. If you keep bouncing things to me, I’m going to wonder why I have you around.
You should ask questions if you don’t know what to do. On the other hand, you should not have to be taught the same thing over and over again.
Erik Mazzone posted a really beautiful response to this in the shape of Note from Employee to Boss, which is worth a read too. It takes on Michael’s post point by point in a good natured way.
I do try to take initiative. Remember that when you say you don’t like unpleasant surprises.
I respect your time and try to keep my interruptions of your work day to a minimum. Let’s agree that you won’t micromanage me, too.
I will never behave unethically because of the goals we set. You, however, should help make sure that the goals are achievable. Because while I will not behave unethically, I will get tired of you setting goals that I can not reach no matter how hard I work.
And then via one of the comments on Wade’s post, I came to an open letter from employees to bosses here.
You’re the king, we’re the workers, and we work for you.But guess what? Your throne is made of porcelain, just like ours. The work is the real king. We all serve it. So don’t let your position get in the way of our work. Kill the hierarchy, and realize this: your job is to help us be successful, because your success depends on ours.The king is dead. Long live the work.
…You hired us because we’re good at what we do, because we can do what you cannot. Accept the fact that there will be times when you’re out of your league. That’s ok. Just remember that you have faith in our abilities (right?), and let us do our job. Trust us—we’ll make you look good.
Do read all the posts…it will make your day, whether you are a boss or a subordinate! 😉