I manage a team and some cross-team projects and have been growing well within my company for the past few years. I had a great head start, although after my second promotion I felt it was really hard to play politics (I have a very busy personal and family life, as well as some health issues to deal with).

I feel that I have a good relationship with my direct supervisor and his supervisor (our Boss); however, recently I have noticed him ignoring me on many occasions, taking others' to important meetings and even asking me to stop doing certain responsibilities.

In our one-on-one's and performance reviews he says absolutely nothing, that all is fine and I should continue as I am doing. I personally feel that with my health condition and several other problems I am doing a great job at juggling all that goes on in my life!

I am puzzled, however, about what is happening, and I am starting to have very bad gut feelings, bad dreams, etc.

Even though there is absolutely no negative feedback against me from neither of my managers, there is just thing I feel could be a source of tension - our Boss usually communicates with my supervisor and me separately. A number of times, it seemed like my supervisor tells my Boss one version of the story, and to me another - and when my Boss asks me, I often feel like I am coming across as not knowing anything or giving wrong information. However, this issue has never been openly discussed and, at least in appearance, nobody ever complained.

So... if there are no issues, what could I do at this point?

And if there is an issue but they are hiding it from me - what could I do in that case?

closed as primarily opinion-based by gnat, Joe Strazzere, Michael Grubey, IDrinkandIKnowThings, user8365 May 8 '14 at 15:52

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Just a nitpick. It wasn't done without a reason, it was done with a reason or a set of reasons that are not being disclosed to you :) And no, I don't know what they are because they didn't tell us either :) Try to find from the grapevine :) – Vietnhi Phuvan May 6 '14 at 22:57
  • @JoeStrazzere - Would you advise that I could talk to them about this? Would it be appropriate? Mine could also be simple paranoia midst organizational changes. – KatHirangton May 6 '14 at 23:26
  • Out of curiosity, why do you capitalize Boss? – rath May 6 '14 at 23:28
  • 1
    @rath, just for this text, to distinguish him (Director) from my direct supervisor (Head of... ). – KatHirangton May 6 '14 at 23:30

You need to initiate a discussion. Do it with the positive intent of trying to understand what is expected and to improve your performance. Practice how you might ask such questions until you can do it without too much emotion - you do not want to come across as "desperately helpless and depressed." Possible conversation openers:

  • I noticed that I was not included in the ABC meeting this week and that I am no longer being asked to do XYZ. I am wondering if you are unhappy with my work, or if there is something I should be doing differently.
  • As you know, I have been working around a health problem recently, and I am concerned that you might find it is affecting my work in a way that I am not seeing. Are there performance issues I should be aware of?

Your gut and your observations are telling you that something is amiss, and you admit you have health and other problems that you are juggling around. Perhaps before bringing it to your boss, you should take stock and honestly admit to yourself if there are areas where you are not performing as well as you used to. This would account for changes in the responsibilities you are being given, and perhaps your bosses are expecting less from you since they know you are going through a difficult time. In this case another way to open the conversation would be:

  • I can see where my performance is not as sharp as it used to be, due to health issues I am working around. I want you to know that I am still very committed to this job, and I am a little worried that some responsibilities, like XYZ, are no longer expected of me. Should I be concerned about my future here? Can you enlighten me about how you view my performance and my future in this position?

Good luck!

  • thank you this sounds very well-phrased! Just to clarify, I sincerely see no areas where I am performing less than before (or else, I wouldn't be this puzzled!). I am concerned that the only issue there may be is that due to being "marginalized", I am feeling increasingly insecure and uncommitted. And as a consequence I am afraid to voice my opinions, feel it's useless to share my plans, etc. However, this is a consequence of what has been happening. – KatHirangton May 7 '14 at 5:47

First trust those gut feelings.

I want to point out one possible problem. You are a manager and yet you say: "I felt it was really hard to play politics"

A manager's job is politics (at least 90%). To fail to play is to lose. You need to start playing again as it sounds like someone else is playing politics with you in the crosshairs. Not only are you harming yourself by refusing to play, but you are hurting the careers of all of your team members as well.

"I personally feel that with my health condition and several other problems I am doing a great job at juggling all that goes on in my life!" Now that may be true from your perspective, but is it really from your boss's perspective? Are you sure you are making him aware of what you are doing and what your team is doing? Are you sure he isn't hearing differently from someone else?

It sounds as if you have asked if something is wrong in the one on ones. But really the time to ask is when one of those incidents happens that makes you get that feeling in your gut that something is off about the conversation.

Some of those things make me wonder if a layoff is coming and you are on the list. Especially the parts about having job responsibilities moved away and being ignored in important meetings. They can't tell you in advance about a layoff and so they tell you nothing is wrong. If I were you, I would be preparing myself financially for a possible time of unemployement and be exploring other job options. If it doesn't happen, there is no downside to taking those actions to protect yourself.

  • @HGLEM, do you think it is appropriate I try to address this with my boss (or both my supervisor and my boss)? Is there any way I can try and discuss with them what part of the politics I am not playing properly? It's not that I refuse to play; it's that I feel paralyzed/unable to even understand the rules. I really need to talk to someone about this as I am feeling desperately helpless and depressed about this. It's hard to understand what I am doing wrong if nobody tells me directly. – KatHirangton May 6 '14 at 23:29
  • First step is get yourself some books on the subject and read them. It is generaslly a non-no to discuss politics directly, so ask instead, "What I can do to be more effective?" – HLGEM May 7 '14 at 12:49

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.