By Jacelyn Lim and Winifred Tan
Does your boss mentor you? According to a recent survey by consulting firm Accenture, more than two-third of 3,400 executives polled reported having neither a formal nor informal work mentor.
Contrary to what you may think, your boss may not be deliberately hindering your progress by refusing to mentor you. Research has shown that many new managers are, in fact, unprepared for what their jobs entailed. In other words, your boss might be good at what he does, but not necessarily as good at coaching subordinates to do the same.
Hence, it is vital to recognise the subtle hints that your boss is dropping at work. If your performance is not meeting his expectations, watch out for the following warning signs and make sure you rectify the issue before the pink dismissal slip arrives on your desk.
1. “It’s okay”
These two words are usually followed by phrases such as “I think Mike can take it from here” or “June will help follow up.” By subtly relieving you of your duties, your boss is in fact emitting vibes of dissatisfaction under a blanket of indulgent sympathy. This is a dangerous sign that you’re on your boss’s black list: a reallocation of duties could be in preparation to axe your position without affecting the company’s operations.
2. Selective relaying of messages
Have you ever realised you’ve been left out of the loop on important advancements in a project? Did you brush it off even though it has happened several times before? By relaying only selected messages to you, your boss is demonstrating that:
(a) he does not trust you enough with the big picture,
(b) he feels that your opinion on the project is unnecessary, and/or
(c) he believes that you are unable to handle the full workload and that further involvement would not be beneficial to you or the team.
3. Micromanaging your work
Remember the days when your parents used to supervise your studies because they didn’t trust you enough not to skive? Your boss might be employing similar tactics to keep you on your toes, such as routinely checking on your work progress or expressing exaggerated joy when you complete a simple task. Such tactics are significant especially if your boss never used to practise micromanaging, for it shows a dip in trust. Be sure to buck up your performance and salvage your loss of credibility; otherwise, any delayed reaction may result in (1), (2) or (4) occurring.
4. Allocate significantly less work than before
This is probably one of the most obvious signs that your boss is severely displeased. By giving you seemingly unimportant and menial tasks as compared to the more crucial projects you used to handle, your boss has already lost faith in your work quality and is questioning your suitability for the job. Beware: this is often the last chance you have to prove yourself.
5. Pitting you against a colleague of similar rank and/or experience
Friendly competition is healthy. However, look out if your boss is repeatedly singing praises about your colleague in front of you or during lunch conversations. Although there might be some truth to those praises, the main purpose of spelling them out could be to challenge you to push beyond your current limits and possibly surpass your colleague’s performance. It’s time to pull up your socks and strive even harder!
What are some other subtle warning signs you've noticed? Share with us your opinions in the comments box below!
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