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"Set Chemistry "
I have been working with my boss for four months. My boss and I don't seem to have chemistry. I feel as though I am kept out of the loop, sometimes purposely. I have to seek work to do outside of my department because there isn't enough to do, even though I ask periodically then she'll ask me about a project I know nothing about and becomes frustrated when I ask for details. My supervisor is also good friends with her supervisor's assistant, who is a known gossiper. Although I thought I had a good rapport with this person, she makes "rounds" so to speak, which I can easily ignore, however, the past couple of weeks it has been my turn and I believe my boss is listening to it. My boss has embarrassingly yelled at me in the hallway over immaterial things. I do not feel my job performance is an issue. When I do have an assignment I complete it well and on time. Do you think I have a problem, and if so, how do I fix it? Thank you!
Out of the Loop
Dear Out of the Loop,
"What we have here," as Strother Martin said in the film Cool Hand Luke, "is a failure to communicate."
My suggestion for addressing problems such as you describe is to ask your boss for an appointment to talk about managing your work better. Tell her you would like her help in clarifying her expectations for you. As your supervisor it is part of her task to give you the direction you need in order to do your work.
When you meet with her I would suggest that you first describe the situation from your perspective and how you feel. Tell her, as you told me, "I feel out of the loop." or "I feel isolated." Try to present the situation to your boss in a way that the two of you can work together on creating a better communication pattern. Avoid presenting the situation in a way that suggests your boss, or you, are not performing as you should. That would set up a confrontation, when what you want is to encourage cooperation.
With respect to the gossipy assistant, if you have a good rapport with this person I would suggest you invite her out for a coffee and tell her how you feel when you hear that she has been talking to others about you. In doing this be sure to make it clear that you are describing your feelings by starting your sentence with the words "I feel." For instance you might say, "I felt hurt when George told me you had told him about our conversation concerning my feeling out of the loop."
If you value this relationship you can indicate that and seek to work together to ensure that it works for both of you. You might say, "I value our friendship and appreciate the help you have given me since coming to this firm. Will you treat future conversations as confidential unless we agree otherwise?"
The key to dealing with difficult relationships, in the office or elsewhere, is to approach the person privately and speak to them one on one in a way that lets them know how you feel and seeks to work together to create a better relationship. If you are accusatory or demand that the other person change, you are unlikely to get a positive response.
If the one on one approach does not lead to an improved relationship, or if the relationship is already so difficult that you are reluctant to try this approach, contact your firms Human Resources Department whose job it is to help in these kinds of situations. If there is no HR department bring in a superior and ask them to help resolve the situation.
Thanks for writing,
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