Does Your Boss Actually Know What You Do? Resources

In a perfect world, we’d all work for people with clear ideas about our responsibilities, appreciation for our talents and skills, and the ability to recognize when we’ve done a good job. Alas, this is not a perfect world.

As Liz Ryan writes in an insightful Forbes post titled “Five Signs Your Boss Doesn’t Know What You Do,” there are a lot of supervisors out there who are clueless about what their employees contribute. This isn’t just unfortunate — it’s a major problem, Ryan says.

“It’s not safe or healthy to work for someone who doesn’t know what you do and for whom, as well as how your work makes the organization money or achieves another important goal,” she writes. So how can you tell when your manager is completely in the dark about how you fill your days? Below are the top five warning signs.

1. No Questions — If your boss never asks about your projects are going or whether you have opinions about the general state of the company, it’s a pretty good sign he or she doesn’t know squat about your job.

2. Your Priorities Don’t Align — As Ryan puts it, you need someone who “cares about your wins” and “considers them wins, too.” If you’re excited about something — approval to purchase new software, to use the example Ryan gives — and your boss can barely fake enthusiasm, it’s a surefire signal they don’t fully comprehend your work.

3. They Outsource the Managing — When a boss relies on third-party feedback to assess whether you’re doing a good job, you’re in trouble. “The managers say you take care of issues promptly,” Ryan recalls being told by a former boss — a guy who “didn’t have the personality or comfort level to sit down with me and talk about what was happening in the company.”

4. They’re Mum About Your Work — Ideally, bosses will talk to you about your projects and offer feedback and guidance. It’s worrisome, then, when supervisors go out of their way to talk about their own stuff or steer clear of all relevant topics by bringing up things like current events or the weather. They’re using avoidance to make up for their lack of knowledge about your contributions, and it’s detrimental for everyone involved.

5. No Brainstorms Ever Brew — One of the best things about having a good boss is that you can bounce ideas around and come up with creative ways to solve problems. When the boss isn’t invested in the work you’re doing, there will be no such brainstorming, and that’s a solid indication that you need to make some changes or even think about moving on.


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