How to Map Out Your Future When Your Boss Is Evasive
You wanted to work at this company forever, but now that you’ve finally succeeded and are settling in, matters with your boss feel murky. She’s neither critical nor reassuring. In fact, you’ve yet to detect a crack in her poker face. With your first review drawing near, you have no sense of what you’ll hear from her.
Is your boss an advocate or a deterrent? The work is just what you’d hoped, and your colleagues are great. You’d really love to stay and move your way up in this company. But you know that a poor or lackluster review may be difficult to overcome.
What’s the best move to assure your future when you’re not sure if the boss is a supporter? Consider one or more of these strategies to manage your boss!
Arrange a time to sit down and chat.
It is imperative to arrange a face to face meeting — particularly if you feel that your boss is planning to give you a poor performance review. While you may hear some criticism, at least you can proactively react to it — and possibly turn around a bad review before she puts her pen to paper. Do it now. Do not delay.
Look for lateral opportunities.
Is there another department in the company where your skills would be more appreciated? Keep an ear out for any interdepartmental initiatives in which you could become involved that would allow you to work alongside staff elsewhere in the company. Try to get a read on the culture of other departments. If any appear promising, look for open positions that could offer a potential lateral move.
Establish rapport with your boss’s boss.
While your own boss remains detached, her boss has a much more approachable personality. Try to connect with her without becoming solicitous or endeavoring to one-up your boss. If you discover you have a hobby in common, share a quick anecdote when you bump into her at the elevator. Make use of the limited time in which you interact to share an update on a project you’re working on as it relates to her concerns. If you’re pulled into a meeting with her, exude confidence and follow up with an email if you have updated information to share. But do not exclude your boss from these communications, lest you be deemed a traitor. The idea is to have your boss’s boss comment on your professionalism so that hopefully your direct boss will see you with new eyes.
Seek out advice from a colleague.
Is there a veteran staff member who has a good rapport with your boss? Consider asking that colleague for some pointers. Perhaps it simply takes your boss a long time to warm up to people. Or, she may be recovering from a personal tragedy and has yet to regain her vivacity. There could be a myriad of reasons why your boss remains detached that have nothing to do with you. If, on the other hand, her behavior toward you seems the exception rather than the rule, you may want to up your game or prepare to move on.
Find your boss’s soft spot.
What is your boss doing outside of the office? Is she a devoted mom, a workout fiend, a bookworm, or a foodie? If you have a common interest, it could lead to opportunities for sharing experiences or offering congenial tips. But if she remains aloof, simply show her respect and stay attentive to her needs, but give her the breathing space she appears to prefer.
This guest post was authored by Vicky Oliver
Vicky Oliver is a leading career development expert and the multi-bestselling author of five books, including Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers & Other Office Idiots (Sourcebooks, 2008), 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions (Sourcebooks 2005), named in the top 10 list of “Best Books for HR Interview Prep,” and 301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions (Skyhorse 2010). She is a sought-after speaker and seminar presenter and a popular media source, having made over 901 appearances in broadcast, print and online outlets. For more information, visit vickyoliver.com.
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