Satisfied supervisors can make employees' work weeks a lot more fulfilling — and maybe even fun — while managers looking for more from their workers often turn each day into a miserable marathon that begins all over again the next morning. A happy boss is also a lot more likely to help you get promoted or give you a raise. Here are 10 signs you might not be your manager's pick for Employee of the Month and some tips to help you get to the top of the list.
1. Your Boss Stops Offering Feedback
If your boss starts cutting conversations short and canceling meetings with you, it could be a signal that he or she is dissatisfied with you or your work, says Tasha Liniger, a human resources executive for the workplace communications provider Dialpad.
"We all imagine bosses yelling and belittling their employees when they are unhappy with performance like they do in the movies," she states. "The truth is that most managers can be unhappy with their employee, and it's possible the employee would never know. One way a manager can express unhappiness is if they stop investing time in you."
What you should do: "Go on the offensive," advises Liniger. "Schedule a one-on-one meeting, and come prepared with what has been accomplished, what progress is being made and where you need support…ask if there are other things you should prioritize."
From there, start sending your supervisor a weekly rundown of your work and requesting regular scorecards in return. While the communications might seem awkward at first, a good boss should be happy to help you learn and grow.
2. Your Boss Stops Inviting You to Meetings
Although employees might initially see this as a blessing, it could actually be a curse if it's more than an unintentional oversight, says Andy Thiede of KardasLarson, a human resources consulting firm in Glastonbury, Conn.
What you should do: "Offer a piece of key information relevant to the topic of the meeting," recommends Thiede. "By demonstrating you have key information, you are showing that you can add value to the next meeting."
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3. Your Boss Shuts Down Requests for Advancement
If your boss never makes time to offer detailed feedback, even on direct requests for raises or promotions, it could mean it's time to revamp your resume. Being shut down without adequate explanation can make denials seem personal rather than professional, states Valerie Streif, a senior advisor for for Mentat, which helps job seekers and others build their professional networks.
What you should do: "Ask what you need to do in order to get a raise or promotion," Streif advises. "If they can't give you a straight answer or seem to be disinterested in keeping you around, it could be a sign that you need to find a new job ASAP."
4. Your Boss Doesn’t Offer You Attractive Opportunities
Likewise, if you're finding it impossible to get ahead, even as colleagues that started at your level keep landing prime projects and passing you by on the salary scale, it's a pretty sure sign supervisors are unhappy with your contributions.
What you should do: Sometimes, people are just a poor fit for a position or the company culture, says Timothy Wiedman, a long-time human resources professional and retired professor. Have a frank conversation with your boss to discover what's driving the issues, and figure out if it's possible and practical to address problems.
"If changes are possible, develop an improvement plan with input from the boss," he says. "Then, carry out the plan and keep the boss apprised of your progress. Simply 'trying harder' is rarely a solution."
5. Your Boss Starts Micromanaging You
If you feel as though your boss is eyeing your every move, take some time to examine the micromanager's motives, says Gretchen Skalka, senior manager at TBC Corp., a Florida-based tire marketing company.
"Some bosses are micromanagers by nature, not necessarily doing it in a negative way," she states. "Micromanaging is always bad but not always done because of dissatisfaction with the employee."
What you should do: When micromanagement consistently results in negative feedback, employees should see it as a red flag. "When this happens, it's important to open the channels of communication to your boss and try to prevent the situation from escalating, which it easily can from this step as it's often the beginning of the 'documentation cycle' that can precede termination."
6. Your Boss Rechecks Your Work
Similarly, a supervisor who goes over your work with a fine-tooth comb probably isn't happy with what you're producing on your own, says Elizabeth Becker, client partner and career expert at Fort Lauderdale-based recruiting firm PROTECH.
"A boss who trusts and respects you will trust your work and doesn't feel the need to keep a close eye on everything you do," she states.
What you should do: "If you've made a mistake or there's a reason for your boss to be double-checking things you've done, you need to earn their trust back," she says. "When you send them something you know they'll have questions on, make sure to include everything when you pass it to them. Answer questions you know they'll ask before they do. Trust can take a long time to build — or rebuild — but it is very possible if you're diligent."
7. Your Boss Puts Down Your Efforts
Ineffective bosses sometimes disguise disdainful remarks about your performance as jokes or good-natured teasing, says Jessie West, an experienced HR professional and career coach.
"Passive-aggressive moves like this might be the sign of a manager who doesn't know how to address a situation properly," she states.
What you should do: Take the high road by opening a dialogue where you respectfully address the comments and try to understand the meaning behind them.
8. Your Boss Keeps You Out of the Loop
You can't expect to be privy to every policy decision, says Ilene Marcus, chief executive officer of the consulting firm Aligned Workplace and author of "Managing Annoying People." But an unhappy boss might simply be trying to avoid interacting with you.
"However, as your superior in the organization, the boss is responsible for keeping you informed about policy, programs, changes in plans and overall company strategy," she advises.
What you should do: "A manager's key job is to provide the tools, resources and direction to staff so that they can perform their jobs," says Marcus. "If your boss stops providing these things, start asking for them."
9. Your Boss Reassigns Your Projects
Effective managers are more likely to coach an overwhelmed employee through a task or offer additional help, while others opt to give up on struggling staff members, says Skalka.
What you should do: "Ask to continue on with the project, even if you're not in charge," recommends Skalka, who leads a 17-person team. "This shows your commitment, keeps you in the loop and can calm the situation with your boss."
10. Your Boss Watches the Calendar and Clock
Many organizations maintain a community calendar noting vacation schedules, holidays, office-wide events and the like, reports Skalka.
"A boss who asks that you put other things on the calendar is an unhappy boss — any time you're late for work or have an appointment during the workday and such," she says. "A boss who keeps track of these things is likely looking to establish a pattern that is not going to work out in your favor. Life happens during work hours, but not all bosses are sympathetic to that fact."
What you should do: "If you feel your boss is unhappy with you, the best course of action is to address it head-on in a professional and respectful manner," Skalka advises. "Communication is the lifeblood of every healthy and productive relationship — in work and in life."