The company I work for hired a new employee , Steve. Steve is supposed to be smart, intelligent and graduated from a great school. Prior to joining this company Steve worked with a reputable organization doing intelligent things like saving the country from cyber attacker, intruders etc. He has a great reputation within the company. He is, admittedly, very good at his job and my boss thinks very highly of him.

I was assigned to work with Steve. I am part of his team. Surprisingly, Steve is not very communicative with me. He does not want to talk unless I talk to him. He does not care if I show up to meetings or not. He is not curious to find out why I missed a meeting with him, what I am working on etc. He does not even reply to me if I send him a "Congratulations Steve" or "Good Job Steve" message. When we are in a group he will talk to everybody but not talk to me. He will only talk to me if I talk to him. If I don't talk to him, he will not talk to me.

What I am worried about is, end of the year, he is supposed to do my annual review. So I am not sure how to solve this problem or fix this issue. I want to talk to my HR about this but I dont even know how to explain this problem.

I feel rejected for no reason in a very passive-aggressive manner. I need some advice on how to solve this problem. Thanks in advance.

  • 5
    Whether deservedly or not, "Steve" does not seem impressed by OP and does not wish to have to do with OP. Do your job as well as you can and do not try to be obsequious. He is not explicitly rude (he responds when talked to). Be polite, neutrally friendly and respectful, but do not send congratulations/good job messages if they are not appreciated. Develop yourself further as fast as you can, and - possibly - prepare an option for a switch if it should come to that. No point in thinking in terms of rejection: Steve is not your friend and you owe him doing a good job, but nothing else. – Captain Emacs Mar 14 '17 at 1:10
  • I'm of both camps (I had upvoted both Captain Emacs answer and Joe Strazzere's). I would talk to Steve (once and only once) and I would continue to better myself just to have a back-up and more proactive plan. – Teacher KSHuang Mar 14 '17 at 10:01

First, take yourself out of the situation mentally. See it as clearly as possible without emotion clouding your view.

Starting with your statements instead of Steve: Are you missing meetings? Why? Do others miss meetings for the same or similar reasons or are you a stand out? Does Steve possibly know already what you're working on, and is it critical?

Second, you stated multiple times he won't talk to you if you don't initiate the conversation. I don't talk to co-workers unless engaged. I'm actually quite busy and I tend to like to submerge myself in my work, and unless they're having a problem I'm not going to go out of my way to talk to them. On this line, how do you know it's not the same for everyone else? Does Steve casually stroll into their area and strike up a conversation? If he does, have those people made concerted effort to talk to him first, as you state you have?

Lastly, if he doesn't respond to atta-boys, why concern yourself? You did your part in the social norm by giving him praise, and he didn't return it. Maybe he doesn't feel comfortable with someone congratulating him? Maybe he's not sure how to respond or IF a response is needed. Think of this like someone saying "OK" when you text them. If the subject is understood or the situation resolved, when is it okay to NOT say OK? "Hey, this was a thing" sometimes doesn't have a response. Does he send a mass "thanks for your thoughts" to the team? Is it more that you're not getting a personal response for a personal thanks? Everyone sends a "Happy Birthday" individually and I respond with a mass "Thanks everyone" instead of 12 different emails.

Don't take it personally unless he's overtly negative to you. If nothing else, you can take it up with him: "I'm curious as to whether I've done something that you've disliked? My concern is that you don't think I'm working well with the team, and I'd like to address any concerns you might have." At this juncture it makes you the target instead of him: you're not attacking his leadership or personal value, and you're making yourself available for any potential criticism. Take it from there. If he refuses to talk, then you head up the chain and let them know in the same manner: "I feel as if he possibly isn't pleased with my performance, I attempted to resolve it with him and he's ignored me, so I'm concerned about my place on the team".

Don't let emotion cloud your judgement, don't make it about you personally until you know for sure it IS you, and then discuss what steps you can make to change the situation.


So, Steve has a team. How does he behave with other members of the team? What is your relationship with the rest of Steve's team? Do you have a good relationship with other managers in the company? Line managers can make or break your work environment.

To answer your non-question: if you are feeling uncomfortable and rejected at work, the first thing to do is speaking openly with your manager, asking for feedback and guidance if needed. If this fails, then you might as well ask HR for help, but not to complain, as their main concern will be "is this guy a troublemaker?". Instead, I would approach HR with: "hey, I enjoy working the company and I enjoy working with Steve, but I am investing a large amount of time managing my relationship with him and I see little support on his side. Are you aware of any internal openings?". Even better, reach out to other teams, build the relationship and switch when possible. Everybody will win.


These concerns shouldn't wait until an annual review. It sounds like you're not having regular one-on-ones with your boss, which is absolutely an antipattern. Schedule them yourself if he doesn't seem motivated to. But you should be openly discussing any issues he has with your performance, getting to understand each other better, etc. continually. That's part of the job. As a manager he should be initiating that and it doesn't speak well to his management skills that he's not, but "managing up" is part of every employee's job if they want a good job.

We can't accurately guess what's up here - it could be nothing, it could be that he hates you with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns. It could be for no reason or it could be for a bunch of really good reasons. Continued dialogue with him is the only way to know.

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