Tory Johnson: Avoid Confrontation at Your Own Risk

Maybe your concern is with a boss who used to give you daily feedback and direction on your work, along with briefings about things happening in other departments. In the last month he has claimed to be too busy to talk to you, which is entirely out of character for him.

Instead of confronting him and catching him off guard, ask to set up a meeting. "I'd like to arrange a time where we can establish that everything is on track." That would then give the boss the cue at the time of that meeting to say, "No, things are not on track," or "Yes, everything is on track."

You can approach this subject during the meeting by saying, "There's been a shift in our daily communication. Are there things that I'm doing that you would like me to do differently?"

Hopefully, you'll hear that all is well between you and the boss. Perhaps you haven't talked as much in recent weeks because he's consumed with other pressing needs.

Don't Be Defensive

Other times, unfortunately, you'll learn that there are indeed problems with your performance. Don't hide from the concerns or get overly defensive, as that will make the situation worse. Instead, ask direct questions about what you can do to improve your work.

Don't allow yourself to be pummeled unfairly or inaccurately. Be prepared to speak up to share details about results you've achieved or problems you've encountered that are beyond your control. Set specific goals about how and when your future work will be measured. Agree to keep the lines of communication open and to meet again to revisit these issues. Reassure the boss that you're committed to rising to the challenge and making this work.

No matter what the outcome, it's always smarter to have the benefit of knowledge gained by asking questions and addressing potential concerns directly. Resist the urge to bury your head in hopes that problems will just disappear. If only it were that easy.

For more information on career strategies, or to send your feedback to Tory Johnson, CEO of Women For Hire, visit

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