Natalie looked distraught as she waited at the end of the line for me to finish shaking hands with other audience members. “I know you’ve got to catch a plane, but this is almost an emergency. Can we talk?”
I followed her outside to a private area. “I’ll get right to it: I have a meeting in a few hours with my boss. And I’m wondering if I should call his hand on something. I’ve been in the job just a few months, but I don’t think he likes me. In fact, he’s started to ignore me.”
She went on to tell me that the boss had hired her shortly after bringing on another person in a similar role—and how he had started to treat her differently. “For example, this conference. I found out that he told Tim to stop by several specific booths to talk to some people. He didn’t give me any instruction at all. And I found out that he and Tim had dinner together Monday night. I wasn’t invited. Was that because they just happened to be together at dinner time and it was a casual ‘let’s grab a bite’? It’s just several things like that.”
“Has he said anything at all to you about the quality of your work?”
“Nothing…. That’s why I’m thinking that when we meet in a couple of hours, I’m just going to have to force the conversation.”
Everybody’s Awesome, Cool, Fantastic, Super, Great
Since it’s out of vogue for managers to give negative feedback these days, it’s often difficult for employees to determine exactly where they stand, how to improve, and how to deal with the stress of not knowing.
Training programs offered by HR practitioners and outside consulting firms coach managers to focus on strengths and developmental plans for the future and put aside discussions of poor performance. All well and good. Until there’s a need for cost-cutting, a layoff, a restructure, a merger, or a lost contract. When that happens, you may be startled to find yourself the first one out the door.
Then there are those people doing excellent work, but whose boss just isn’t pleased—no matter what. Call it envy, ego, or emotional problems, the boss wants you gone. Or is it your imagination?
10 Signs Your Boss Isn’t Happy With Your Work
Look for these 10 signs to determine what the boss is communicating to you:
Clear, straightforward communication always trumps vague generalities that produce uncertainty, low morale, and lower productivity. Managers should focus on strengths, sure, to put people in the right roles and motivate them to engage.
How to Open the Communication
So what did I tell Natalie? “You need clear, straightforward communication to perform at your best. If your boss isn’t leader enough to have such a conversation, start the discussion yourself. ‘Lately, I’ve noticed that X. Is this my imagination, or should we talk about something that I’m not aware of and that I need to change?’”
Let me know if what I told Natalie works for you.