|Published: November 14, 2008
Jennifer Selby Long, Selby Group
Five Signs You're in Poor Standing with Your Boss
You're probably in great standing with your boss, but with the economy so tight, many people have been telling me they're nervous about their jobs and they want to be sure they're picking up the signals, if there are any being sent.
Interestingly, this is one area in which I do not advise clients to listen to your "gut feelings" because I find that employees often fill in the empty blanks with the worst possible scenario when it really isn't so bad.
Instead, start by looking for the clues that you have fallen into poor standing with your boss:
1. You have less access than your peers. While their requests for time with the boss result in a meeting, yours are turned into an email thread or ignored.
2. Your boss begins to avoid eye contact. For some bosses, it's difficult to maintain eye contact for long when they know they need to have a difficult conversation with a subordinate. Some bosses don't make much eye contact in the first place, so what's important to notice here is not the sheer volume of eye contact, but rather the relative volume of eye contact. If it's less than it used to be, it's a sign.
3. You are no longer tapped for important projects. As with Sign #2, it's essential to look at this from a relative point of view. If your department isn't getting any essential projects, the department is the problem, and you'd best be looking to get out of there and go where the action is. However, if key projects are still coming in, but they are going to your peers, it's not a good sign.
4. Responses to your ideas take on a needlessly negative tone, with phrases such as, "You need to understand that I'm trying to run a business here," which implies that somehow you are oblivious to the fact that you work for a business.
5. Your boss tells you that you need to work on a few things. The odds of this happening outside of a mandatory annual performance review, sadly, are quite low.
I often see even the toughest of bosses shy away from direct feedback, so don't assume that you're getting it. If it's been a while since you've had a performance discussion with your boss, ask for one.
It's no guarantee that you'll get back in good standing, but it's better than letting the problem go, living with the endless stress, and either slipping into an unsatisfying role or losing your job altogether. In tough economic times, it is particularly important to show your willingness to take tough feedback and work hard to improve.
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