People say “no news is good news,” but no news from your boss could be bad news.
A lot of us would love to have a hands-off boss, one who sets us free to do our own best work in our own ways. Indeed, it sounds like workplace heaven.
But if the boss who used to closely supervise you suddenly stops, that is actually a bad sign. At best, it shows that your boss is no longer invested in your success. At worst, it could represent the first step to being demoted, transferred or even laid off.
It’s amazing how frequently managers who are unhappy with staff members fail to directly address the issue. They will avoid, deflect, procrastinate and hope the whole problem will go away.
But here’s the good news: This lag time gives you the opportunity to recognize that all is not well and take steps to fix things before it’s too late.
First, schedule a time to talk with your boss. Ask for feedback. Emphasize how committed you are to delivering a good performance. Show a willingness to entertain criticism. Do all this in a friendly, assertive, polite and non-confrontational manner. Don’t be afraid to point out your accomplishments and successes. Your boss may be unaware of all you do.
You also might want to first identify areas where you feel you could use improvement and then create plans for how to do that. When the boss mentions you could be doing better with X, you will be able to say “I agree and here is my plan for fixing X.”
Of course, it might not be about you at all. Your boss may be overwhelmed with other responsibilities or under pressure from above. In either case, it’s always a good idea to reassure managers that you’ve got their backs. You’ll earn the boss’s undying gratitude while at the same time building better job security for yourself. You might even volunteer to help with whatever issues are causing your boss’s change in behavior.
So if your boss starts to “forget” to invite you to important meetings, makes dismissive comments about you or your work, fails to provide necessary feedback or instruction or starts to assign the best jobs to others, act now. Don’t hide from the problem. Be visible, stay positive, do your best work and remain professional.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use and of the novel “The Paris Effect.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.