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I work for an IT company where my Manager is a non-IT person. I am confused about her working style and way of responding to others.

She doesn't respond to any status emails (I don't think she reads them because she'll come up to me with questions answered in those emails). She also doesn't respond to IM chats/questions.

When I go directly to her she says she is in call/some other work and never makes time for me. She'll spend time talking with other senior employees, but when I walk up to her with question she dismisses me, saying she has calls.

I'm getting frustrated. How do I approach her?

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    Ask one of the senior employees she talks to what you should do. – paparazzo Feb 9 '18 at 18:17
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    Did she ask for you to send these mails that she doesn't read? – Erik Feb 9 '18 at 18:34
  • Having managed people and my own busy schedule, she could have not gotten to your email or prefers to get updates directly from you. You may want to request a standing weekly meeting to talk with her even if it's just 15 minutes. Like @Paparazzi mention you can chat with one of the senior guys on how to communicate with her. – jcmack Feb 9 '18 at 19:57
  • @jcmack if she is his manager, and does not want to get updates from him, there is a problem there. – Adam Smith Feb 10 '18 at 23:16
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It looks to me like you may need to approach her about her own availability, but also work on your own communication techniques.

Your initial post was a little confusing, poorly formatted, and needlessly verbose. There exists a chance that your manager finds your emails confusing, and has simply started ignoring them. That would not be professional of her, but it might be understandable, especially as she's non-tehnical.

I believe you may also have some misconceptions about how you might go about requesting information, and most importantly from whom. There are steps you can take to improve the situation.

First of all, she seems to be a very busy person, and perhaps going to her with your questions is not the best approach. Find out if there's someone else who could give you the same information who might be a little more accessible.

Second, you seem to simply walk to up her office and expect that she make time for you, which is not a good assumption (as you've found to be the case). Instead, maybe ask for a quick meeting, and only go up when she replies in the affirmative.

If I were you I would make it my number one priority to set up a 1 on 1 meeting with her next week. Come to that meeting with a sample status email you've sent her, as well as a notepad.

Explain that you'd like to know how you might adapt your communication style such that she will find your status emails useful. Ask her to look at the status email with you, and tell you which sort of information she finds useful, and which she does not. Make a note of that.

Inquire whether she feels your emails are easy to read, or if there's something you could do to improve them. Maybe she'd prefer short, point form lists. Maybe there's technical aspects that she doesn't want to know about. Heck, maybe ask a coworker to proof-read them before you send them. Also ask her how often she would like to receive those emails.

Then go into how you sometimes need to get a hold of her for clarification of certain project details, and how you desperately need a clear line of communication (IM, email, etc.) such that you'll always be able to get a hold of her. Ask her whether it's reasonable to expect to get a hold of her the same day, or whether she'd prefer you to set up meetings several days in advance.

Perhaps she could also point you to some other resource whom you might pass your questions to. However, the problem here is not simply her becoming more accessible to you. You also have to improve your style of communication.

Don't waste her time walking up to her several times a day with a small question each time. Instead, do as much as you can without her input, compile a list of questions, and only approach her once.

You'll also have to keep in mind that since she's non-technical you must ensure that you adapt your communication style to her level of understanding. Use analogies, or simplify the problem such that you get the necessary guidance without making her feel like she's wasting her time listening to you.

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    Your initial paragraph now seems snarky because the original text (before your editing) is no longer visible. – kevin cline Feb 9 '18 at 18:14
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    @kevincline - it's not snarky, it's the reality of the situation. It was not an easy to read post. If the OP's emails are similarly phrased/formatted, then I could easily imagine a non-technical user not wanting to deal with them, and instead walking up to ask for status updates. It's not a possibility that should be ignored if we really do want to help the OP get through to his manager. PS: You can always check the edit history. – AndreiROM Feb 9 '18 at 18:16
  • yes, as I said it "now seems snarky". I had to go back and read the original (before your editing) to understand. – kevin cline Feb 10 '18 at 10:27
  • @kevincline - the editing of the question was also for the OP's benefit, as poorly formatted questions typically receive far less attention. I honestly don't understand what's bugging you about all this. – AndreiROM Feb 10 '18 at 15:27
  • Nothing is bothering me. – kevin cline Feb 12 '18 at 8:12
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How do I approach her?

If you have a calendar, I would try to set up an appointment with her and figure out what is going on.

Alternatively, if you have email, try sending her your questions, and request that the two of you meet to discuss. This may generate the feedback you need.

If this doesn't work, I would keep up what your doing and hopefully she will make time for you. The problem you seem to have is she doesn't appear to be interested in that, and you really cannot make her.

If all else fails, you could also report her lack of responsiveness to her boss, but this will only earn you an enemy, and I would not recommend it.

It is never a good sign when you manager avoids you or won't make time for you. If this behavior continues, it is time to polish up your resume and find something new.

Remember, its always easier to find new work ( if you have to ) when you are currently employed.

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Use bullet points.

Bullet points are the best, because

  1. they make it clear what the issue is as they are concise
  2. their nature makes you, the writer, considerate of how to condense information, which often helps clarify the issues in your mind
  3. because it's easy to respond to them, this increases response-rates

Also, don't ever ask your manager an open question, which I suspect you are doing. Instead, come up with at least 2 options to solve the issue, and then present them. This shows initiative!

Other answers are also correct, you need to book time with your manager, not just pop into her office.

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