I am an IT professional at a non-profit. I enjoy the work I do, and as a person I enjoy taking on interesting and fulfilling projects. Our office building has a small back yard area that has gone untouched for about a decade and was overgrown. I recently took the initiative to clean the backyard and make it usable, and a couple other people jumped on board to help.

Recently, since completing the initial hard work, the executive director has taken to making connections with outside people to work towards his vision of what he wants that area to be, and I have not been consulted or included in the planning. I am somewhat insulted by that behavior. I suspect that if I had not taken the initiative, no one would have done any work on it, and now he has claimed it as his own territory to be done with as he pleases.

Should I talk to him about it? If so, what can I say to be included in future developments?

Editor's Note: The original poster later modified the post to read "Disregard... Problem Solved...". In the interest of helping others looking for help in similar situations a rollback to the prior version was done.

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    a boss being a boss is not bullying.. – easymoden00b Jun 18 '15 at 14:20
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    @NonSecwitter it's his company, his yard, etc. He's free to do with it what he chooses. You aren't. Talk to him about the work you've done for him. But it literally IS his territory. Not yours. – easymoden00b Jun 18 '15 at 14:40
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    Welcome @NonSecwitter! I hope that you find some useful advice here for your dilemma. – EleventhDoctor Jun 18 '15 at 14:48
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    @NonSecwitter did you expect to get promoted to Information Gardening Officer or more of a pat on the back? Perhaps it'd be best to talk to him about the effort you put into it and ask if you can continue to be involved. Wouldn't hurt. At least you motivated him to beautify the space! – easymoden00b Jun 18 '15 at 14:50
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    I find it difficult to understand you are not happy that your initial action has had such a major effect on the organisation, from your direct colleagues to your boss. Obviously you require praise, but it simply is not up to you to decide whether you deserve any. – Luceos Jun 18 '15 at 14:52

Congratulations on cleaning up the area. Few people would do such a thing. Where I work most people won't bother to clean up messes they leave in the shared microwave and refrigerator.

To start addressing your concerns: Are you certain the boss was not already planning to make a different use of the area? That he wasn't already in communication with these outside people who are going to help him achieve his vision for the area? It is possible there were plans already in place that you weren't aware of.

It seems there is a lack of communication here. While unfortunate, that seems common in IT. From what I see, any hope you have to resolve this issue in a way you find favorable will require that you improve your communications with your boss. That said, there's no guarantee that improved communications will get you what you want.

To start with, I suggest asking your boss if you can talk about the back yard. Say something like "Mary, Tom, and I worked a lot to clear that area up. We were hoping to use it as an area to get some sun while we take relaxation breaks. Now it seems you want to convert it to a glassed in office. Is there any way we can re-visit that plan?" Of course, you will change the details to fit the facts of your situation. The boss may say something like:

  • "Oh, I didn't realize and hadn't thought of using it that way, I like that idea."
  • Or maybe "Hmm, I really need that glassed in office, as that potential client loves things like that. However, we can compromise by splitting the space and making some of both."
  • Of course, you might get something like "Sorry, it's my space and I've made my own plans for it."

The first reaction should be to your liking. The second will require some work on both your parts; maybe neither of you will be completely happy, but you'll each get something toward what you want. In the third case you're unlucky; regardless, you'll have tried and let the boss know your feelings about the matter. In the future, improved communications are likely to avoid situations like you are in now.

Another thought: Did you do this clean up on your own time or was it something you did during work? If it's the latter, the boss may be upset with you for doing something outside the scope of your job. (Now, I must get back to work myself!)

  • He had no plans for the space, just passing comments about what he would like to do with it. I had communicated my intention to re-work the back yard, and he thought it was quite the joke. I do my best to communicate with people because my field does have so many problems with that. I've gotten comments from other staff that this is par for course for him. Looking back, it's not the first time he has presented other ideas as his own. I've made suggestions for our fundraiser that were met with objection, only for him to come back to me later and present it as a new idea. – Jonathon Anderson Jun 18 '15 at 16:34
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    If you had discussed the project in advance and he indicated it was a joke that is a different slant. And you feel he has taken other ideas as his own. You should have included that in the question. – paparazzo Jun 18 '15 at 18:10

You can certainly talk to him about it. He may very well be impressed by your initiative, though that does not mean he feels a need to consult you on further developments, nor does he have any obligation too. (Unless more has happened than you've disclosed, you are not being bullied.)

If you would like to be part of the project, you can certainly raise that with him. But the solution here is to raise it with him directly as with any other project: professionally, emphasizing your interest and initiative, and see if there's a way of getting involved now that it's becoming a formal, organisational project.

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