Why Are Senior Managers Rude and Ignoring Me?

Question:

I often wonder why senior management (the more senior and younger they are) the more they would be disrespectful of my time, ignore me, gatecrash my meeting time to get their agenda through with the person I’m meeting …and only acknowledge my presence if they needed something from me. They are white S.Africans , I am not … I am quite amused by such behaviour as word / reputation of such attitude would only get out … why would they want to do that? Please help me understand if there is something I did, I am or ????

Signed,

Keen To UnderstandWhy


Answer:

Dear Keen To UnderstandWhy:

It isn’t possible to know, at a distance, why senior managers in your workplace seem to be rude in their actions. It certainly sounds as though they are, given what you describe. But, I doubt that you are amused by it, even if you think they will get a bad reputation over it. I imagine you feel frustrated and irritated, as anyone would be! If you have a supervisor or immediate manager, it is his or her job to ensure that you are able to get your work done effectively. Talk to that person about this and ask for advice. Your manager will know the work culture better than we do and can also help you determine if there is something you did, you are or ????, as you ask! Even if you are yourself a manager, you have someone you report to, and that person may be helpful.

If the people interrupting you are at a higher level, it would probably not go over well for you to talk to them later, as though you were correcting them. The best time to say something that brings the situation to their attention is when it’s happening.

For example, they come into a meeting called for another purpose. If you can’t ask them to come back when your meeting is done, consider a method I used several times in similar situations. When the senior person came in and started talking to the person I was meeting with, I said, “Sir, if you need a few minutes to discuss this, I’ll leave and get some more paperwork and come back in a few minutes, will that be enough time?” Every time I did that, the senior person said, “No, no, that’s OK. I didn’t mean to interrupt your meeting. No, don’t leave, I’ll get out of here and let you finish. Sorry!” Those senior managers didn’t intend to be mean or rude, they just weren’t thinking. When I brought it to their attention in that way, they felt badly about it and didn’t do it againor at least, not often. Maybe your senior managers are the same way.

People who have influence and status in a business are usually not treated in such blatantly disrespectful ways. So, perhaps you will need to work on gaining influence and strength within the organization. The three steps I often mention for that is to be credible, be valuable and be a direct and effective communicator. Still, no matter what your status, someone will be higher and that someone may not see anything wrong with exerting his or her power in the ways you describe. If you have a lot of value and something to contribute, they will not ignore you though.

The bottom line is that there is no way to know why people in your work world act the way they do. They may not know it themselves. The most important thing is to develop your relationships with them to the point that they will treat you and your time with respect. I think you will need the support of your own manager to help you make that happen, so I hope you will have some specific examples to share and talk to that person about it.

Best wishes to you in your work. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what develops.

Tina Lewis Rowe