I am good friends with a higher up who is not my manager but goes to management meetings with him. He told me that my manager doesn't like me very much, but he beat around the bush when I asked why and said I shouldn't be knowing that. During my past 1:1's with my manager, whenever I ask for feedback or stuff that I can do better he never gives any and says that I'm doing just fine. I've always felt that he is a bit colder to me than towards other employees.

I've never brought this up with my manager because I shouldn't even be knowing this and don't want to risk my friend getting in trouble for revealing this, but I also fear that if this goes unresolved then I'll lose out on promotions or bonuses because my manager has a large say in that. How should I resolve this problem?

  • @StephanBranczyk I understand how you can think that. Perhaps a better title for the question would be "What to do when my manager won't give my any feedback?" Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 15:00

5 Answers 5


[Bob] told me that my manager doesn't like me very much, but he beat around the bush when I asked why and said I shouldn't be knowing that.

I know he's your friend, but Bob (that's what I'll call this "other higher up") is being a bit of an arse.

In all seriousness, this is a really crappy situation to put you in. If he wasn't comfortable telling you anything that could possibly help you resolve the situation or make amends, then why tell you in the first place? He's introduced conflict and unease with no opportunity to reconcile. If he's genuinely your friend, he should be interested in helping you sort it out.

I'd therefore push the situation back on Bob, with something like the following:

Hi Bob, I know you said you couldn't tell me why x didn't like me, but it's been playing on my mind. Is this something I've done, or is it completely irrational? Is there anything that you'd suggest doing, or any way you can talk to x and suggest that he confronts me directly over anything that's bothering him?

That way you're not directly pushing him for the information, you're pushing him to see if he can find a solution where he's comfortable that he doesn't have to reveal any detailed inside info. Even if he says something like "it's completely irrational, I don't agree with him, it's nothing you've done and there's honestly nothing you can do about it" then you've still gained the knowledge that you're performing as expected, and there's nothing above and beyond you need to be doing.

  • 1
    This. OP's friend is one of these people who likes to ignite trouble and then stand aside to see what happens. Either they help you to resolve it, or OP should just ignore it. Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 0:21

They might just not like you personally, but be perfectly capable - aside from appearing cold - to not let that influence their professional evaluation. I don't particularly like a few colleagues personally either, but absolutely respect their professional competency and work well with them together. I'd just not invite them to a tea party. And that's everyone's right. So this might be a complete non-issue.

Still, if you want to clarify because of him "being cold" feels negative to you and neutral requests for feedback bear no results, you should remember that 1:1s are a two way street. You could bring up that you feel left behind or that he seems to avoid you or the like. Or however that "being cold" manifests itself concretely.

BUT, be warned that you should consider whether he treats you negatively on a professional level or is just not so open when it comes to private matters like befriending you. If it's solely the latter, chances are good he will just deflect and the relationship is soured further because he feels he needs to tip-toe around you. With some colleagues one has better private chemistry and more of a friendship evolves than with others, that doesn't mean something is wrong or improvable with either one.

Should he treat you professionally worse than your colleagues however, like always assigning you the tasks no one wants or deriding you for small mistakes when he doesn't do it to others or the like, that's certainly something to bring up.

  • Exactly, sometimes personalities just don't mesh.
    – MvZ
    Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 16:46

Engage HRBP

That's "HR Business Partner" in corporate-speak. I think scenarios like this are literally what they are for. Just tell them that you feel you aren't getting candid feedback from your manager and that you feel he treats you differently from the rest of the team. Not in a professionally inappropriate way, but in a way that perhaps suggests some tension that you're not aware of. Ask them to talk to your manager and see if there are any unspoken concerns. Tell them that you are hoping to get X% bonus/raise this year or a promotion in time frame Y, and you feel your development goals are at risk because of inadequate performance feedback.

If HR is worth they checks they receive, they will be a middleman that helps you and your boss understand each other better. If they aren't, then you have some tough decisions to make, like whether to look for a different boss, or a company with better HR.

Career Goals

You also need to ask yourself what you want from your career. If your job is just a way to pay the bills, and you have a fulfilling hobby you do on the side, then don't concern yourself so much with every work relationship, as long as nobody is rocking the boat and you are getting compensated fairly. If, on the other hand, you have lofty goals and wish to advance to high levels, then having a supportive boss is absolutely the key to career progression. You will likely need high-profile projects, positive mentions to other management, and access to the best opportunities your team and company have to offer if you want to move upwards. It's pretty hard to get any of these without a boss that believes in you and is willing to do what it takes to help you move forward. A boss that says: "You're doing fine; keep it up" is doing none of those things.

In that case, you should shop around for a boss and team that is most likely to help you meet your career goals, making sure your new boss sees your current value and believes in your potential as much as you do. It's even better if you can sell someone on that team on your current position, so that it becomes a swap, rather than a net loss for your current team. That helps your current boss save face, and minimizes any hard feelings that might arise from wanting to change teams. Just tell folks that you want to try something new, pick up new skills, etc. This is common enough and understandable.

You know you are on your way up when your boss says: "I'm taking on this risky project because I think our team can deliver, and you are the key to success. Failing this is going to cost us big, so I really need you to hit a home run. I'll be giving you the feedback and sentiment from above as the project proceeds, but you gotta show me what you got and bring your A game." Or: "You're doing well, but we need to craft a stretch goal so I can justify your promotion next year." Or: "This is gonna be tough to hear, but I got some feedback from coworkers and some folks from another team. Let's work on your communication skills." Everyone can improve in some way, or be challenged because they are coasting. If your boss isn't challenging you and pushing you hard, then your boss isn't helping you move upwards. "You're doing fine, keep it up" is the worst feedback ever. If a good boss ever finds you in that position, what they will really say is: "I wonder what you're really capable of...let's find out."


Hard to resolve if the one method you have for finding out the “why” is off the table. I would seek a transfer or a new job. Or if you’re content with what you’re doing just ride it out for now. He may leave or his feelings towards you may change.

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    It is entirely possible for someone (for example a manager) to personally dislike someone, but to act absolutely professionally towards them and not let the dislike influence anything they do. In that situation, looking for a new job would be totally pointless.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 19:45

Short answer: ask that manager, respectfully. Then listen carefully. Then ask for advice on what you can do to change the situation.

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