Q: My manager hardly ever communicates with me. During the six months that Ive been in this job, Debra has never met with me individually. If I send her a meeting request, she ignores it. In fact, she ignores most of my emails. When I try calling on the phone, Debra always says shes busy and will get back to me, but she never does. Dropping by her office is difficult because were located in different buildings.
Debra expects me to email her a weekly report, and she occasionally replies with questions about my activities. But she never seems interested in my long-term projects or career goals. This worries me, because she is responsible for recommending raises and promotions. How can Debra accurately evaluate my performance if she doesnt talk to me?
A: Some misguided managers view employee communication as a distraction instead of recognizing that it is actually a core function of their job. Unfortunately, your unapproachable boss falls into this category.
Because Debra is clearly not a people person, she is more likely to respond to immediate work-related concerns. A general request for a meeting wont seem particularly important unless she knows the agenda. If you specify the topics you wish to discuss and their relationship to current objectives, you may have more luck getting her attention.
As a relatively new arrival, you might also benefit from comparing notes with your colleagues, especially those who seem to work well with your boss. Ask if they can suggest any useful strategies for managing up, but be careful not to complain about Debras leadership style.
For example: Debra always seems to be extremely busy, so Ive found it difficult to schedule meetings with her. Since the two of you appear to have a good relationship, I wondered if you could give me some insight about how she prefers to communicate with the staff.
But if nothing seems to work, then you may simply need to accept that your boss has reclusive tendencies and modify your behavior accordingly. Otherwise, she will eventually begin to find you annoying.
Q: Whenever someone takes sick leave, that information is publicly posted in our online calendar. Everyone in the company has access to this program. Even though Im not sick very often, I really dont think its anyone elses business. Is this a violation of my legal rights?
A: Not being an attorney, I cant comment on the legality of this practice. But from a communication standpoint, its the fact of an absence that matters, not the cause. In the interest of efficiency, many offices indicate whether people are in or out, but the reason is generally irrelevant.
Share your concerns about privacy with your boss or human resources manager, then ask if the posting could be changed to simply show personal time when someone takes vacation or sick leave.
Send in questions and get free coaching tips from Marie G. McIntyre at http://www.yourofficecoach.com, or follow her on Twitter @officecoach.