I recently acquired this job a couple months ago and has been pretty good since. It’s a laid back place and I pretty much sit at a desk all day. My other coworkers are pretty cool and we chat and goof off sometimes. We tend to surf the web and slack off every now and then too. Recently I’ve been doing the same as them by going on the web and what not but there are times when my boss sees me doing so and I catch him sometimes staring at me doing it. He has caught me recently doing it often, so finally he took me aside and talked to me. I didn’t really think it was serious up until he started watching me more and more. And yes, I was being irresponsible by continuing this behavior, but I made sure my work was getting done. But when he pulled me aside that one day, he spoke to me about it. He told me that he is close to getting rid of me due to poor performance. I apologized for my actions and told him it won’t happen again. It has only been a few days since the talk but I have not done anything other than my work since. The problem is, and this was even before the incident, that whenever he would come in to the office or whenever the whole team was together conversing, he would act like I wasn’t there. Something like not being a part of the team is what I was feeling at that point. I don’t usually care about these things, but since the beginning, he has never showed any interest in building a relationship with me, as if I’m of no importance. I honestly don’t know if he’s not comfortable with me or if he just doesn’t like me or what. My birthday passed and he did not acknowledge it, even though everyone in the office knew. I feel tension between us, and I do not want it to be that way. He’s humorous and playful with the others, but he doesn’t even say hi to me. I hope he doesn’t have the wrong idea of me, but I’m willing to work at gaining his respect.
Dear Feeling Ignored:
You have described your work habits in the last few months and also the actions of your boss, which are concerning to you. There is almost certainly a link between the two. There were probably other issues going on as well, but you can bet the work issues were a daily source of irritation for him. So, to build the relationship, build trust about your work. If he doesn’t change, you’re not out anything because you’ll be doing your job very well, which is your responsibility and always a good habit to develop. Odds are though, that if your boss feels very confident about your trustworthiness at work he will react better to you in every way.You say you only recently started your job. It could be that the others have been around awhile. So, even if they are doing some things they aren’t supposed to do your boss may feel that you should be trying harder as a new employee. It may also be that if you are young there is an age and interest gap and your boss isn’t as comfortable talking to you as he is to the others. Your boss may feel you don’t like HIM, so he could be hesitant to converse with you. There may be something about your style or mannerisms that make him think you don’t want to talk to him or that he would have nothing in common with you.It may also be true that he is being unfair in his judgments about you, but at least you can take away any possible excuses.You say that he doesn’t joke with you or acknowledge you. However, you don’t say that he ignores you when you talk to him. So, try engaging him in pleasant but brief conversations when you can do so appropriately. Reach out to him and show him through your actions that you are wanting to be part of the team both in work and in relationships.Another way to link with your boss or with anyone else at work, is to talk about work in positive ways. Discuss ways to improve it, talk about how much is done by everyone, mention something that has happened or that you have a question about. Don’t let it be a gripe session. Instead, be the one who has worthwhile things to talk about. Or, be the one who brings out worthwhile conversation from others.Also try showing your initiative by finding other things you can do when you regular work is through. Or, ask your boss if you can help him in any way. Show through your words and actions that you are committed to going above and beyond what is required.Consider the three main influencing aspects of you and your work life to see if the problem might be in any of those three. 1.) Appearance. 2.) Communications. 3.) Results.Look carefully at how you are dressed, how your hair looks and other aspects of your grooming. Make sure there are no strong distractions based on any of it. Consider how you dress for work. If it is business casual, make sure you don’t let it devolve down to business sloppy. Also look at your work space and make sure it represents you well.Listen to how you communicate with your boss and others. What do others overhear you saying and doing? Is it the same topic all the time? How well do you listen as well as talk? Do you often talk about things that lead your boss to think you two have nothing in common? Be the best communicator you can be.Consider the results you are getting as you do you work. You should know the job well enough by now that you are not making many errors and that you are getting the quantity of work done that is expected for your tenure. Whatever your work involves, make every effort to gain expertise and to be trouble-free as an employee.You know the old adage, “If you want to have a friend, show yourself friendly.” The same thing applies at work. If you want to be seen as a nice guy who is a good worker you have to show those things to others. If you want your boss to think of you as an ally not a stranger, you need to present yourself in that way to him.This could be an interesting challenge for you. Give yourself a month of two to build a better working relationship with your boss. Base it not on phoniness but on sincere good will on your part and a good work ethic. Extend your efforts to others you respect at work. Picture how you want them to think of you, then BE that.Best wishes to you as you work on this project. I predict you will find the work more rewarding as a result. And, you will gain the respect of coworkers as well as that of your boss. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.
Tina Lewis Rowe