Question to Ask The Workplace Doctors about a friend becoming a boss: he changed. He was more serious, which I expected, but he turned neglectful.

A work friend of mine became my boss two years ago when two executives asked me as a promotional thing if I want to transfer to my friend’s dept. to help fix that department’s. issues. I said yes knowing my friend would be my boss but since he and I had the same work ethic and got along great I was happy to finally be around a colleague who wasn’t lazy.

But when I got transferred, he changed. He was more serious, which I expected, but he turned neglectful. He was always gone socializing in other departments which he never did much before. He never trained me or set expectations. Never checked up on me or explained anything. He also never supported or guided me when I needed help. So I did talk to him about it, but he acted like he wasn’t being neglectful and would try harder. He said he understood.

Nothing changed. It just got worse. People kept wanting to socialize with him more now than before so he pretty much did nothing all day while I worked hard to keep the dept. afloat. As it got worse I got upset. I confronted him many times and he always acted surprised. I felt let down because this wasn’t his behavior normally. I knew him for years before he became my boss. Plus our employee count grew and I noticed he’d be social and helpful with others but not me. So I got more upset I focused on my work but when it finally would occur to him to pay attention to me after being ignored for hours or days and he’d try to joke with me and I was too bitter to think he deserved to be joked with he’d get upset because I didn’t joke back.

He’d have this “Oh she’s in a mood” kind of look when I didn’t joke back and he’d go back to ignoring me. I also voluntarily trained this new guy in my former department because no one was guiding him. Boss would jokingly interrupt us each time and say, “Hey, hey, hey don’t bother her.”

And at a meeting when I had a day off he told other depts. to stop bugging me, which I found weird because he’s always about helping people. So as time went on we argued more because he didn’t like the fact that I didn’t say much back. When he felt like paying attention, I didn’t, and it was just a vicious cycle of arguing for a year. I just was so upset that the only person in the company I trusted and respected has failed me the most. He mostly depends on me but rarely talks to me socially or even professionally.

He’s even harder on me than all the others who are quite lazy. He supports their needs when they need help or have questions, and he gives them great evaluations. I get the burden of doing the “heavy lifting”, but he never pays attention to me. We can go a week without talking and his office is three feet from mine. Also I’m the only one he never recognizes, praises, compliments, or thanks. And I’m the only one he never asks how I am.

At work events, parties, or after work happy hours at bars, he won’t talk to me either. He sometimes will join my conversations and will talk to the people I’m talking to but won’t address me or will finally approach me when I’m leaving. I have felt so saddened for a long time because I’m tired of being expected to work hard and be ignored; yet everyone gets away with everything. I even get critical evaluations and they don’t. I confided in a work friend from another dept.

She told me not to be upset because she strongly believes he does appreciate me and points out things like he brings me up in conversations a lot. Although he may not be talking to me, he’s always around me at events or get to gathers. She says I’m the only non-manager in the company that has an office and that when I was missing one day (long story), he freaked out, paced around, and couldn’t sit still. He worried about my well-being. She’d never seen him like that before. But I don’t believe her. I don’t think he cares about my hard work. You are supposed to support those whom you depend on the most. I feel so alone and my efforts don’t matter.

Signed, Unappreciated

DearĀ Unappreciated:

Your long narrative indicates you what you have attempted has not worked. The relationship with your friend/boss has descended to you feeling isolated and unappreciated. You say, “I confronted him many times and he always acted surprised” and later that “as time went on we argued more because he didn’t like the fact that I didn’t say much back.”

I’ll not beat around the bush, you need to change. Your boss won’t. Friendship, he may have thought, would appear as playing favorites, and he might have even made sure not to evaluate you too positively. He sees you as an employee, not as a friend. Apparently he’s grown to depend on you and is able to do his work and be involved with others. You are not made of steel. You go to work feeling neglected and taken for granted.

Your best option is to return to your former department or transfer to another. Get a fresh start. Don’t talk any more with coworkers about how you feel. What you say about a boss and others often gets back to those you talk about. Don’t gossip with coworkers about wanting or planning to transfer. Hope for something better comes when you make a pathway out of what is an unhappy situation. Don’t depend on that Slot-machine in the Sky to find you another position. Depend on you. You can do this quietly or solicit the help of your boss. If you don’t trust him to help you move. Do it alone. After you’ve investigated what’s available, apply. See this as an adventure along a career path either within or outside your company. The grass may not be greener, but at least is will be different.

Once you have an offer in hand, then you can inform your boss. Don’t take this advice lightly. There is no quick fix in transferring or voting with your feet. You must realize, just as you didn’t fully when you transferred into your friend’s department, that things could be different. Meanwhile get a life outside your job. Work isn’t all there is to loving life. Give of yourself to in tutoring, volunteering, and do what makes you feel good such as singing in a choir, working out, enjoying the library, joining a gourmet club, etc. Do any of these thoughts make sense? Or if not, will you allow them to prompt some others that are more creative. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS; by that I think you know that work is hard when you don’t have a collaborative boss-friendly workplace.You want to be enthusiastic about your job and the future of your work organization. I predict you can be.

Follow Up: That’s the thing I knew what I was getting into. I took the job because I knew I’d learn something new by working in his dept that I wasn’t getting in my old one. I wanted to be challenged and work alongside people that worked hard and was drama free. When I joined his dept I didn’t get trained. No expectations set. Flaked on most meetings I asked for. Despite all that’s happened unlike others I take my job seriously. I go above and beyond if that’s what it takes to grow the company. I pick up the slack of others. He knows this but as a manager/leader I expect him to deal with lazy employees. I also expect that if he’s gonna place dependence on me mostly then as my leader he needs to make sure communication is there but I feel like although he us skilled I’m the only adult there.

While he spends half of his day goofing off or being a proper leader to everyone else. And by the time 5 pm hits I finally get some acknowledgement and he says in a jokingly way (he says it in Spanish when he’s Caucasian) what happened to my box of tissues. That’s what I’m dealing with.

Reply:your additional note re-enforces what I sent you. However, I wouldn’t give up trying to train this old dog, your boss. I can’t know from a distance how frank you have been with him. If you were his boss and he goofed off and didn’t report to you until the end of the day, what would you do? I expect you would spell out both in writing and orally the rules he must follow and you would schedule a trial period. Apparently, you’ve learned the job, possibly you should suggest a role reversal for a week or two. I doubt that he would accept such a proposal, but it could make your point before you voted with your feet. My best to you as you struggle to train him and plan to find a job that is worthy of your commitment.

William Gorden