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Business/Economy

What to do when your boss doesn’t connect with you

  • Author: Lynne Curry
    | The Workplace
  • Updated: January 14
  • Published January 14

He’s just not into you.

The problem is he’s your boss, not a guy you’re dating or a friend with whom your relationship has faded. If he was a guy or friend, you could date or befriend someone else. But when the man who doesn’t connect with or even like you is your boss and you want to keep your job, you can’t run or hide. You need to fix the problem — if, and that’s a big if, you’re reading the situation correctly.

While the signs your boss doesn’t care for you may be subtle, the seven actions below signal major trouble.

1. Your boss micromanages you and only you.

2. Your boss demonstrates indifference to your professional growth by never giving you mentoring guidance.

3. Your boss treats you poorly, occasionally publicly shaming you, and you’re the only employee subjected to negative behavior from him.

4. Your boss never asks your opinion. Instead, he loses patience when you’re talking and ignores your views when you voice them. He shuts down every idea you pitch.

5. You’re left out of key decisions integral to your sphere of influence.

6. Your boss avoids you, while you notice he talks with your co-workers about their kids or hobbies.

7. Your boss gives off negative body language, such as eyebrow raises or eye rolls, when you speak or are around.

Any of the above may signal a problem boss and you can document the situation and route it to HR. However, if you choose not to and intend staying in your job, try the following.

Examine yourself

Decide if you create part of the problem. If your boss micromanages you and not others, ask yourself if your work habits and performance have led him to do so. Before you complain that your boss talks with co-workers about their hobbies or kids, ask yourself if you’ve ever initiated informal interaction with him. If your boss appears indifferent to your professional growth by never offering you feedback, think back to the last time he gave you constructive criticism. Did you listen or respond with defensiveness?

Notice who and what your boss values

Do you work alongside a peer your boss favors, who gets all the choice assignments or is given other perks? While you can speak up and demand equal treatment, you might get further by observing how she handles her job or interacts with your boss. No one said a boss can’t have more than one favorite. When you strategically assess your boss’s favorites to see what they do, you can emulate the behaviors you feel comfortable with. For example, if your peer or boss works more than a standard 40-hour week and rises above challenges, but you tend to offer excuses for low productivity, change your ways.

Build a better relationship

You can grieve what you don’t have or build what you want. Given how important your relationship with your boss is, you win when you invest effort into creating, maintaining and enhancing a positive connection. If you’re an employee who interacts easily with co-workers and treats those in authority positions with skepticism or distance, stop shooting yourself in the career foot.

A first step toward connection: Ask your boss for coaching or at least clarity. You gain both information and relationship by asking your boss important questions such as, “What would you like to see more of or less of from me?” and “What are your priorities for my work?” If you know what your boss expects, do to best to deliver it and work on improving yourself, you improve both your current position and your long-term career success.

Avoid landmines and traps

You may feel tempted to commiserate with or vent to co-workers. Don’t. It wins you nothing and could lose you much. Not only might your co-workers secretly think less of you, but your boss may hear and consider you a real problem.

Finally, don’t trap yourself by remaining in a job situation going nowhere. If you’re not getting what you need from your boss, seek out mentors and develop relationships with those who occupy key positions in your company’s hierarchy. But don’t stay in place. The job you occupy isn’t the only game in town. Start searching for a better situation before you let your current status eat away at your sense of self-worth.

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