Often, bosses are busy, overworked, and don’t care too much about making friends in the office. But there’s a difference between a boss trying to do her job in a fair way and a boss who has a problem with you on a personal level. And this difference can be hard to spot. So below are some red flags indicating that your situation might be verging into the "personal problem" territory.
Sign #1: Your boss avoids you in the office.
if your manager frequently leaves the room as soon as you enter it, this may be a sign that she doesn't like you. While some bosses may simply not feel like taking the time to have a conversation, your manager should at least make you feel acknowledged with a smile or greeting of some kind. A good way to tell if this kind of behavior is directed toward you specifically would be to see how your boss reacts when other people walk into a room. Pay attention to see if she is avoiding everyone—or just you.
Sign #2: Your boss is unwilling to meet with you.
Have you tried to schedule a one-on-one to go over your performance or discuss a future project and your boss seemingly couldn't (or just wouldn’t) make the time to meet with you? This is not normal boss behavior. Even if your boss is incredibly busy (which she probably is), a boss should still try to find the time to meet with you, even if it's briefly, to discuss what's on your mind. That's literally part of a boss' job.
Sign #3: Your boss won’t make eye contact with you.
Body language can be incredibly telling when it comes to deciding whether or not your boss has a problem with you. When you speak up in a meeting, does your boss look your way? If it seems like she is avoiding eye contact altogether, this could be a major red flag.
Sign #4: Your boss is micromanaging you.
If your boss wasn’t fond of micromanaging you before but is suddenly all over your every move, there might be something else going on. And if you can’t think of a specific mistake you’ve made recently in your work that would have led to this helicopter manager style, it could just be you in general that’s bothering your boss. Ouch.
Sign #5: Your boss no longer invites you to important meetings.
If your boss has been excluding you from meetings you used to be invited to, she might have had a change of heart regarding your relationship. It's possible there have been policy changes involving those included in meetings, of course. But this generally means that your boss used to want you to be in-the-know and able to offer your opinions or advice on whatever is happening with the company, and now she doesn't.
So, what should you do now?
Even if your boss has been actively avoiding meeting with you, you should still try to request a formal review. Jot down your concerns without mentioning any specific behavior—you don’t want your boss to feel targeted or attacked. But make a point of asking how your manager thinks you’ve been doing at work, if you could meet more regularly to go over your performance, and what you could do to improve in the future. Mention that you’d like to be involved in more projects you’ve had your eye on, or suggest an idea you’ve had that you haven’t been able to express to them. Show that you're still committed and a professional, regardless of what chilly behavior may have been directed at you recently.
If the above doesn't result in any changes, consider whether your boss is simply a less-than warm person or if her behavior is actually off-putting to the point of creating a hostile work environment. If the latter is true, consider scheduling a meeting with your company's HR. We can't make everyone like us at the end of the day, but chilly, hostile behavior from a boss has no place in a professional setting.
A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.
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