Fix My Job: Bad Boss

My boss keeps avoiding me – is that a problem?

With all the hours you spend at work, life is more tolerable if you can loosen up with your co-workers: Chat about family and friends, celebrate (or lament) the local sports teams – maybe go out to lunch now and then.

But what if somebody doesn’t like to socialize and rarely speaks to anybody else? And what if that “somebody” is your boss?

If the person in charge doesn’t communicate with the rest of the team, it can send a negative message throughout your entire organization. It might be a sign of impending bad news. Or it could be a personality quirk affecting just that individual. How can you tell which is which?

If your boss doesn’t say much, there are a couple of likely possibilities:

  1. Are you new? Is your boss? In many situations, a boss or supervisor may make a deliberate choice not to be too friendly with those who work for him or her, especially at first. Like a teacher on the first day at school, he or she wants to establish, well, who’s the boss. Being too friendly at first might interfere with his or her ability to do “boss-like” things later on, such as evaluate your job performance. So if you – or your boss – is new to the job, and his or her behavior is making you uncomfortable, the best thing might be to sit tight for a while and see if the situation improves over time.
  2. Maybe it’s not about you: Some people enjoy joining the office pool, picnic or party. Others prefer to keep to themselves – and your boss could be the loner type. Or, a boss may prefer to keep some distance from employees he or she has to supervise. In either case, you may have to adjust to the fact that you work with someone who prefers to keep social interaction at a minimum.But: If your boss is so out of touch that you’re not getting important information about work schedules, project deadlines or workplace policies, you’ve got a problem. Let your boss know directly you need to be “in the loop,” and be specific about the information you need to do your job right. Check in with co-workers to see if they’re having the same problem. If all else fails, let your boss’s boss know about any communication problems that are affecting your ability to do your job.
  3. Is your boss less friendly than he or she used to be? If your boss or supervisor used to join in workplace conversations and social activities and has suddenly stopped doing so, it could be a sign of problems down the road. Could your boss be on the way out the door? Are the finances of your company or organization shaky – are layoffs coming soon?While it’s perfectly reasonable to request information about major workplace changes that could affect your life, not all organizations are willing to be transparent with their employees. If your boss is acting in a way that causes you concern, you’ve got every right to ask what’s going on. If you don’t get answers, consider doing your own research1, and definitely talk to your co-workers. Just because your boss is aloof doesn’t mean you should be.

Useful Links

Article: “Employee Worries Why New Boss Hides in His Office: Aloof or Reclusive?”



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