1

I work in a fairly quantitative technical field. We get open projects which I love to do. I do quite well at them, and I have a good reputation in my team. My manager is more operational and most of the decisions are taken by my manager's manager (call her D). So I regularly present/mail my research work to her.

Sometimes, over mail and verbally, she is very enthusiastic about my findings, and she is very liberal with her oral and written feedback.

However, lately, she does not reply to my emails or follow ups. Our calls get canceled and shifted and finally when I get her on call it is clear she is multitasking and I do not have her full attention. Communication is very formal rather than personal.

I am not sure how to take this because I know the quality of my work could not have gone down.

I cannot have these technical discussions with my immediate manager because he is not technically tuned enough to give me useful feedback - to his credit he does not have a problem with this and is very useful in other parts of my job. I have a good relationship with him.

6
  • 8
    Have you considered that your manager's manager may be more busy than usual and has less time to attend to things that frankly should be handled by your direct manager?
    – sf02
    Jul 19 at 12:45
  • I do not have cause to think so because I now the projects that are on her plate; the change in feedback is disproportionate to any idiosyncratic increase in deliverables. I know it may be due to personal stress. My research goes out to multiple teams and at higher levels so we need her sign off anyway - it should NOT only be handled by my direct manager.
    – user121416
    Jul 19 at 12:58
  • 3
    Perhaps you have gone too often to the well. She would like to be friendly and open to you, but she found that you were getting more than your share of attention, and has forced herself to cut back. Jul 19 at 15:00
  • @user121416: I find the claim that you know for a fact that she doesn't have enough on her plate to warrant not giving you the attention you're used to, both incredibly arrogant and so very susceptible to bias. Unless you are claiming to completely eclipse her workload in a way that you are intimately aware of every single thing she does (at which point I'm going to ask you why she is above you at all); there is no way that you can make a judgment call here. And that's not even broaching the topic of anything personal that may be affecting her ability with "extra mile" niceties.
    – Flater
    Jul 20 at 13:07
  • @Flater "I do not have cause to think so" is markedly different than "I know for a fact" - you're being unhelpful by knowingly putting words in my mouth - unfortunately the incredible arrogance you'd like to imagine is at best a giant leap of faith. If I knew things for a fact this question would not exist.
    – user121416
    Jul 22 at 11:56

2 Answers 2

4

However, lately, she does not reply to my emails or follow ups. Our calls get canceled and shifted and finally when I get her on call it is clear she is multitasking and I do not have her full attention. Communication is very formal rather than personal.

I am not sure how to take this because I know the quality of my work could not have gone down.

It seems like she is busy. That's the way I would take it.

Unless your projects need her personal approval, you might need to look for someone else to provide feedback.

If your projects do need her approval, you might be best to try and schedule something periodically (weekly or monthly, as appropriate).

2

How to interpret

You can interpret it as she is busy with other things. Whether personal or work related is unknown, but she obviously has less time for you.

When I strike someone in this sort of situation one strategy is to make your communications professional and as brief as possible. It makes them look more attractive in that at first glance a brief message looks like it probably contains no difficult issues. So I tend to summarise a lot and await a clarification request if one eventuates.

In your case however since it's two levels above you I think you should use the hierarchy to your advantage and tell your manager the issue and let them try and deal with it. That's part of a managers role.

It's not a technical problem or one in which you are a subject expert, it's a communication one that you should not need to solve especially if she needs to sign off on your work. You pass that sort of issue upwards whenever possible. Trying to deal with it yourself is draining and bad for your focus. It also has the potential to cause conflict.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .