Some managers would rather just bark orders and criticize your work than take a few minutes to give you an “atta girl.” If your confidence relies on validation from a boss like that, you’ll end up in a sorry state of mind if you don’t find other ways to get your warm fuzzies. You might be able to look for clues or come right out and ask for her opinion. Or you may just have to buck up and give yourself the pats on the back you crave.
Expect that your boss knows everything you are doing and will tell you when you’re not up to snuff. There’s little room for slackers in most organizations, and you can bet your boss is not going to keep paying you for inferior work. With computer-generated reports, sales figures and customer feedback at her fingertips, your boss probably has a pretty darn good idea of the quality and quantity of your work.
Ask for a private meeting with your boss and lay out your frustrations and questions. Come right out and ask her how you’re doing. Start out by saying that you really want to do a good job, but need to know whether you’re on the right track and want feedback about how you can improve.
Give your boss regular updates of the progress you’re making and the goals you’ve achieved, whether she asks for them or not. Keep a log of your work, noting the deadlines you’ve met and the budget goals you’ve managed to reach. You may not hear the words the words of praise you want, but at least you’ll know that she has all the facts and you can be proud of your accomplishments.
Accept new challenges without grumbling. The boss is most likely giving you new projects or assigning you additional duties because she knows you’re up to the task. While you may have an initial knee-jerk reaction to the extra work, keep an open mind and take it as a compliment that you are being asked to do more. It not only shows that your boss trusts you, but it may help you keep your job if cuts come down.
- Check your own attitude about your work. If you are unhappy at the job, it may be showing in the quality of your work. Developing a negative attitude about your boss’ inability or refusal to praise can lead to stress that shows up in your work. You may end up getting that meeting after all – but it won’t be to sing your praises.
- If your boss refuses to meet with you to discuss your concerns, be aware that there may be events going on in the industry or company that you aren’t privy to. Your boss may know that the company is restructuring or downsizing and doesn’t want employees to know, for example. Keep your resume current and keep networking if you sense that you aren’t getting feedback because you may not be there long enough for it to matter.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."