Why Bosses Call Us In to Their Offices

7 reasons managers make the rare request that you come onto their turf.

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Andrew G.R.
The class went "oooh" and "ahhh" when the note came down from above.

"Andrew G.R., please report to the principal's office."


The blood rushed from my face as I journeyed to meet my maker. I walked down the narrow, fluorescent-lit corridor with my mind racing. How did he find out?

"Andrew," Principal Schulman said, sternly. "We have a problem."

Fighting tears (this was fourth grade!), I stared down at my feet, unable to fill the silence with anything worthwhile. 

"It appears that you have next Friday off because of a family trip."

Where is he going with this? I wondered.

"That is the day of the class trip to Yankee Stadium. And because I know they are your favorite team, we have decided to move the trip up a day. So, you will be able to attend, after all."

What?! All of that buildup for good news?! And here I thought he knew about that incident in the girls' bathroom....

The feeling of anxiety that often accompanies being called to the principal's office never leaves your side. The principal becomes the boss and you remain a student (of sorts) until you ARE the principal.

Many Jobacle readers, as well as friends of mine, often complain about being called in to the boss's office. There is no substitute for face-to-face communication, which is one of the reasons he or she might do it. But in this day and age of the remote workforce, I can't help but wonder if fewer people are getting called in to the boss's office than ever before. For instance, my boss often assigns me projects or tasks via E-mail or phone, but there are occasions when he will summon me to his office. At first, these visits appear random, but look closer, or work at one place long enough, and a pattern will emerge. Here are seven reasons why you get the call—the 7P's:

POWER: The athletic competition phenomenon known as home-field advantage certainly applies to office affairs. From temperature control to standing while you sit, your boss is in greater control in his/her office.

PRIVILEGE: "Secret" information is often exchanged behind closed doors. Getting called in to the office can be a good thing, as it means you can be trusted with confidential matters.

POSITIONING: If your boss wants to send a message, he/she can get away with a lot more when the conversation takes place away from public eyes.

PUSH: Being called in to the boss's office can help your rise to prominence or it can label you a kiss-up. I've witnessed occasions where a boss will call an individual in to his office to send a message ABOUT that person to everyone else.

PONTIFICATE: Let's be honest: Some bosses relish this power that gives them an audience. You're held captive while they enjoy hearing themselves talk.

PUNCH: If there's going to be an abuse of power, it has a better shot of occurring behind closed doors.

POSITIVE: Cap your catastrophic thinking. The next time you get called in to the boss's office, keep in mind that good things happen there, too—strategy sessions, raises, and promotions, to name a few.

So, why do YOU get called in to the boss's office and with what frequency?

After holding down various media jobs, including stops at MTV Networks and Fox News, Andrew G.R. was completely discouraged not only about his own career but about the lack of job resources that truly spoke to him. Enter Jobacle.com, the employment blog and podcast designed to Make Work Better.