It can be easy to convince yourself that your boss doesn’t like you as much you'd hope. Bosses are busy, often overworked, and they can’t play favorites. Frankly, they probably just don’t care about making friends in the office, virtually or otherwise, anyway. And that’s OK. But there’s a difference between a boss who is trying to do their job in a fair way and a boss who has a problem with you on a personal level.
This difference can be hard to spot, especially if you’re feeling extra paranoid lately. So we’ve outlined a few red flags that indicate your situation might be verging into the "personal problem" territory, with some help from women in the FGB Community.
Sign #1: They actively avoid you, in the office or online.
One woman anonymously shared her experience in the FGB Community, saying she has a feeling her boss goes out of her way to avoid interacting with her. And it's true that if your boss frequently leaves the room as soon as you enter it, this may be a sign that they don't like you. While some bosses may simply not feel like taking the time to have a conversation, your manager should at least make you feel acknowledged with a smile or greeting of some kind.
Avoidance can also be felt online, if your boss takes hours to reply to a Slack message from you or seems to prefer communicating over email versus scheduling a video meeting or phone call with you. Of course, with so much happening in the world right now, it's totally possible that your boss is being unresponsive for personal reasons that have nothing to do with you. But if continues to be a pattern, know that it's not OK to feel ignored by your manager and/or your company's leadership — right now, especially.
Sign #2: They are unwilling to meet with you.
Have you tried to schedule a one-on-one to go over your performance or discuss a future project and your boss seemingly couldn't (or just wouldn’t) make the time to meet with you? This is not normal boss behavior. Even if they are incredibly busy (which they probably are), a manager should still try to find the time to meet with you, even if it's briefly, to discuss what's on your mind. That's literally part of their job.
Sign #3: They won’t make eye contact with you.
Another woman in the FGB Community described her boss as being shifty-eyed. Body language can be incredibly telling when it comes to deciding whether or not your boss has a problem with you — and body language can translate even in a video format, too. When you speak up in an in-person meeting, do they look your way? If it's a meeting that's happening virtually today, does their facial expression appear strained when you talk? In either scenario, if it seems they are keen to avoid eye contact altogether, this could be a major red flag.
Sign #4: They are micromanaging you.
If your boss wasn’t fond of micromanaging you before but is suddenly is all over your every move, there might be something else going on. And if you can’t think of a specific mistake you’ve made recently in your work that would have led to this helicopter manager style, it could just be you in general that’s bothering your boss. Ouch.
Sign #5: You’re no longer invited in on important meetings.
If your boss has been excluding you from meetings you used to be invited to, they might’ve had a change of heart regarding your relationship. It's possible there have been policy changes involving those included in meetings, of course. But this generally means that your boss used to want you to be in-the-know and able to offer your opinions or advice on whatever is happening with the company, and now they don't.
So, what should you do now?
Even if your boss has been actively avoiding meeting with you, you should still try to request a formal review that they probably can’t say no to. Jot down your concerns without mentioning any specific behavior — you don’t want them to feel targeted or attacked. But make a point of asking how they think you’ve been doing at work, if you could meet more regularly to go over your performance, and what you could do to improve in the future. Mention that you’d like to be involved in more projects you’ve had your eye on, or suggest an idea you’ve had that you haven’t been able to express to them. Show that you're still committed and a professional, regardless of what chilly behavior may have been directed at you recently.
If the above doesn't result in any changes, consider whether your boss is simply a less-than warm person or if their behavior is actually off-putting to the point of creating a hostile work environment. If the latter is true, consider scheduling a meeting with your company's HR. We can't make everyone like us at the end of the day, but chilly, hostile behavior from a boss has no place in a professional setting.