One of the biggest determinants of your quality of life at work is the relationship you have with your boss. And your boss’s opinion of you matters enormously; it affects everything from what kind of work you’re assigned to whether you get a raise to whether you ultimately keep your job.
But people often miss signs that their boss just doesn’t think that highly of them, and then become confused or frustrated when they can’t get promoted or their ideas go nowhere or they’re not recognized for their work.
Of course, a good manager will address concerns head-on. But plenty of poor managers out there never bother to have direct conversations with their staff when they’re dissatisfied.
So in recognition of bad bosses who don’t communicate, here are 10 signs that your boss just isn’t that into you:
1. You ask for more feedback and don’t get it. A boss who cares about your development will be glad to share her perspective on what you’re doing well and how you could do better.
2. He doesn’t introduce you to important contacts. Others might get invited to meet important clients or the board chair, but the boss never seems to ask you. And he seems to make a deliberate effort to keep you away from his own boss.
3. She turns your raise request down without much explanation. Bosses who love your work may need to turn down your raise request, but because they care about your morale, they’ll usually accompany it with an explanation of why, as well as when you might be able to expect a future increase.
4. He doesn’t trust you to get your work done. If your boss is asking where your work is before it’s due, dictating details that a reasonable person wouldn’t need to be told, and generally displaying a lack of trust that you’ll do a good job, and—and this next part is key—if he doesn’t treat most other people this way, he probably thinks you need this kind of oversight. (And be honest with yourself here: Could his assessment be at all reasonable? People often complain of being micromanaged without thinking about whether they might be provoking the scrutiny.)
5. You imply you’re looking at other jobs and she doesn’t seem to care. Smart bosses will try to move heaven and earth to keep a great employee—but they won’t object when a mediocre employee considers leaving.
6. You hear little positive feedback. A boss who cares about retaining you will make sure you feel valued and your work is appreciated. If your boss never praises the quality of your work or the contributions you make, it might be because he doesn’t think you’re excelling.
[See 7 Ways to Motivate Yourself.]
7. She never asks for your advice. When your manager asks for your opinion, advice, or buy-in, it’s a sign that she respects and values your opinion. If she’s soliciting advice from others but not from you, that might be a danger sign.
8. You have trouble getting his attention. He cancels your meetings, forgets to return your calls and emails, and generally doesn’t seem to have you anywhere on his priority list.
[See How to Manage Your Boss.]
9. She shows no interest in trying to solve your problems. You approach her with your concern about not having enough resources to tackle that new project or about butting heads with the department down the hall, and she’s unmoved. She may be signaling, “I’m not willing to change anything for you. If you want to make a change, it should be to a new job.”
10. He tells you. If you hear words like, “I need to see significant improvement,” take them at face value. For some reason, many people block out these messages and then are blindsided when they’re let go later on. If your boss tells you you’re not meeting expectations, he's not kidding.
Alison Green writes the popular Ask a Manager blog where she dispenses advice on career, job search, and management issues. She's also the author of Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Leader's Guide to Getting Results and former chief of staff of a successful nonprofit organization, where she oversaw day-to-day staff management, hiring, firing, and employee development. She now teaches other managers how to manage for results.