Ignored by Manager

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about being ignored.

My manager does not pay attention to the projects I have submitted for approval. Every time I ask him for approval, he just shrugs me off, saying he does not have time to go through it. Furthermore, I have found many working procedures that cause a lot of unnecessary problems. I submit a proposal describing the problems together with suggestion for their solutions. Yet he does not give me any response. How I going to deal with these situations?

Signed, Shrugged Off

Dear Shrugged Off:

You need to call “Time Out”! From here, it’s impossible to know how you come across; whether you approach him at the wrong time as a fly on his nose or if he is in fact too busy. But it is clear from your perceptive that you feel you are viewed as a distraction. Obviously, you and your manager have not come to an understanding about when and how to plan and carry out your work.

You and he need to talk about how you communicate. He isn’t taking the initiative so it’s up to you. There may be no sure way, as you request, “to deal with these situations?” They appear to have an ongoing shrugged off history. Reviewing that will do little good. What matters is what you need now and in the future. So prepare a project or list of projects accompanied with suggested /problem/solutions in their expected written form. Don’t send them to him, rather send a brief note, saying something like, “Joe, (or whatever is his name) I’m unable to do what I’m supposed to do without your approval. I find that you are too busy to OK or even to review what I propose; therefore, will you name a time for us to meet? I want to help make your job easier, but I feel like you see me as a distraction. Is there someone else to whom I should go to get approval of projects? I hope you know that I want to earn my pay and help make this place profitable. I don’t want to just spin my wheels.,C.F.”

Make sure this is delivered to his desk or mailbox. Then wait with your projects in hand, but don’t submit them, even if he says, “Give me what you want me to look at.” Rather say, “Joe, I have stuff ready, but I think I deserve to be heard. We need a definite time together to examine my projects. When can you make time to do that? We need to talk about how we communicate.”

Another approach is to ask for a performance review and in that time to frankly ask him if there is a way to better present and get a response to your projects. Ideally, you will agree on a weekly huddle to review assignments. Possibly you can have a visual board somewhere to post projects and where you are on them. Are you familiar with PERT charts, Program Evaluation Review Technique? This might be a way to outline a critical sequence of big projects; of what must be done to get to a goal. It is nearly impossible to work in an organization without getting information from someone before working on a project and to whom one’s work is delivered.

Is it possible that you can enlist the support of those essential individuals so that your proposals are not what I call WEGO rather than solo? Avoid mumbling about being shrugged off, but confer with those you can trust to get advice on how you might better communicate with your manager and if all else fails, inform him that you are going to speak with his superior about what to do.

Hopefully you can see your manager as a much- needed coach and not as an adversary and your work group as a team that is integral to the big team. Hopefully, you can meet in skull sessions that applaud what went well and collaboratively coordinate your projects. Hopefully you can work together with hands, head and heart doing what it takes to make big WEGOS in your workplace.

William Gorden