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It all started back in February when I decided to start an e-commerce store.

When my boss learned about it, he started talking less and less to me. Some days he doesn't talk to me at all, like he used to, and when he talks to me he seems like he is not happy with me like he doesn't want me to get into a side project that generates me some extra pocket money.

Now I'm planning to get into trading stocks like next month or so, and I really hate it when he is not happy with me as he was, back then working with him was a very smooth experience. Now it is really toxic and unhealthy, what do you think I should do?

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    Why do you think these are related? – AsheraH Apr 1 at 10:47
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    Is there any potential conflict of interest between the e-commerce store and your work? – P. Hopkinson Apr 1 at 10:50
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    During the work day, are you occasionally checking on your online store? Secondly, how or why did your boss learn about it? – Fattie Apr 1 at 10:58
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    Just to be absolutely certain, are you developing this e-commerce store in your personal time and not using resources from your current place of employment? – user34587 Apr 1 at 12:23
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    You may want to add a country to your question because in some countries, secondary employment needs to be reported to or even authorized by your current employer. – Michael Jaros Apr 1 at 13:24
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what do you think I should do?

Nothing. As long as you are not using company time and resource to make your side project, and you don't have a clause in your employment agreement which prohibits you from engaging in any sort of technical or business activities which is directly or indirectly have a conflict of interest with the current organization, your manager has nothing to object or dictate.

In case he learnt in some un-official capacity and unhappy about it, that's their problem. There's nothing you can do to change them.

  • If you feel that this lack of communication is causing problems in your work, bring it up as an official discussion,

  • However, if you're missing the "chat by the water cooler" because he learnt about your side ventures, believe me, those chats were not worth it.

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    Should add that you should refrain from trading in your companies stock if they are publicly traded. You may be below the threshold for reporting this kind of thing, usually it's a director and above restriction, but it's better to play it safe than sorry. – Bill Leeper Apr 1 at 17:17
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At this point you have nothing to connect your side project with your manager's behaviour other than your feelings. You should not assume they are connected. And your not communicating with him is not helping.

Go and talk to your boss, and ask him if he is OK with your side project. If he is, then you are good to continue. If not then you can find out if there is any official policy on side projects, or why he is unhappy, and at least potentially do something about it.

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    Don't ask about the side project. Ask about the issues you have with your boss. If he answers directly, that they are related to your side project, you can discuss that. Maybe there are other reasons for the boss' behavior. Then you would look like a fool to indicate your side project. – usr1234567 Apr 1 at 15:12
  • That would be fine except when he denies there is anything going on and continues to act the same. What the Op wants to know is whether it is OK for him to have a side project. he should ask that. – DJClayworth Apr 1 at 15:29
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    I disagree that it is reasonable to ask your boss if what you do in your free time is "okay with him". I don't ask my boss for permission to go to the beach or play video games, and it would be at best silly to do so. It COULD make sense to ask if there is a company policy about 'moonlighting' or additional work, or if his boss is having any concerns about his job performance or behavior during work (things which are actually his bosses' business). – Meg Apr 1 at 16:07
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You are looking at the situation from your perspective only.

It is worthwhile considering that your performance in your main job might actually suffer from your side project. That is not always easy to measure, but it could effect your creativity, your sociability (always thinking about how to get the next stage or solve the next problem).

It could also be an indication to your boss that you actually don't see your current job as fulfilling and you either feel too good for it or you are likely to move on. In both cases, it would make sense for your boss to limit the investment in training and coaching you.

Hence, I would suggest tuning down the side project for a week or two and see how s/he reacts. Don't speak about the project and make sure your work is pristine. If after two weeks your boss is still distant you are always free to ask if you did something wrong.

If you ask your boss, then don't frame the question in terms of the side-project (that would be overemphasising your own perspective). Rather ask whether you did something wrong, whether something could be improved, or whether maybe something is bothering him/her.

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There are some times when you need to ok things with your boss, such as when your "side gig" is competing or even similar to your day job. There might be clauses preventing a conflict of interest or potential IP issues with working too closely with your day job.

There are also job (like certain government jobs) that try to claim anything you do, even outside of work, as their own or at least want first dibs on it.

If it's just the manager's rules/feelings, then that's their own problem, but if it's the company rules, then it can be a real problem.

Talk to your boss/manager first to see if there's a company policy that prevents you from doing this. If not, you're fine and shouldn't worry about your boss. If there is a problem, you may need to get a lawyer involved. Involving that lawyer may just mean asking them if the company is actually allowed to have their clause and if it really affects you.

I had a previous employer that wanted first dibs on everything I created. The problem lay in that I had an existing side business and was continuing to create new products for it, which I'm still doing today after leaving that position. I had to do a lot of paperwork, deep history dives, and submit a lot of proof that my business was pre-existing to me becoming an employee and that anything I did for that business would be mine, as long as I didn't do it on their company hours.

I started that business while working elsewhere that didn't have any problems with it and even allowed me to get packages at my day job. It was a small company, so it wasn't really wasting anyone's time.

So, my point is: different companies have different rules. If you want to keep your day job, follow their rules or get a different day job. Or, as someone mentioned in the comments to your post, make your side gig your full time gig. That's what I'm trying.

Good luck!

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