My Boss Doesn’t Talk To Me

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about non-communicative boss.

I am a manager in my department, and my boss, who is a VP, does not talk to me at all, even just to ask, “How’s everything in my department”” She did not even do my annual review. Is this discrimination?

Signed, Doesn’t Know I’m Alive

Dear Doesn’t Know I’m Alive:

The fact that your boss doesn’t talk with you is not discrimination. It’s not good management practice, but discrimination pertains to unequal treatment based on such topics as race, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and age. Do you speak with your boss and does she not respond? Have you ever frankly asked her, “Why don’t you talk with me?” Have reported to her how things are going in your department or asked for her advice about any matter? I predict that you can change a pattern of not speaking or being spoken to. How?

Habits are not quickly changed, but here are several options that will require communication:

1. Ask for help. Tell her you’d like to improve operations and would like to know if she has any suggestions.

2. Engage your department to think of ways to cut wasted supplies, wasted time, wasted energy, and wasted money. Also think of projects that might improve efficiency and the quality of operations. Prepare a list of these suggestions on how that might happen; some probably would require no approval and others would. Take this to your VP, saying, “My department wants this place to be successful and our people have come up with a list of suggestions. We’d like your help to work on these that seem most promising.”

3. Frankly tell her that you don’t want to make her job more difficult, but that you’d like to meet each week with her to discuss matters that might improve productivity.

4. Ask her to do your annual review. Explain that you want to feel you are on board and are furthering the goals of your company and to do that you need to know you are doing what she expects.

5. I don’t know your age or how long you have been employed in this workplace, but you probably have wondered if you are progressing, as you should in you career. Obviously you VP is not one you would chose as a mentor, but good bosses should show an interest in the career paths of those under them. Think through your own answer as to where you are on your career path and then ask your boss, for her advice. You have a voice. Not talking can’t by corrected by silence.

Good managers talk with those they manage every day. You can practice that with your people and gradually improve communication with your boss. Organization and managing is a process of communication; two-way and frequent. Working together with hands, head and heart takes and makes big WEGOS and that requires talk. And if talk is absent, it requires talking about why talk is absent.

William Gorden