boss secretly meeting about me

A reader writes:

The other day I was looking through coworkers’ schedules on our office’s Outlook calendar to set up a meeting. Looking at my boss’ calendar, I noticed that earlier in the week he had an appointment with a coworker “Karen” entitled “Karen on Chris” (I would be Chris). Looking at the time of that appointment, I realized that it must have been a closed-door meeting between my coworker and our boss in his office I had also noticed. We work in a very small office, where business is almost always conducted with the doors open. Such private meetings are rare–so people notice when the boss’ door is closed. In any case, now I’m anxious about what seems like a closed-door conversation between my coworker and my boss about me. I’m really not sure what this could be about, since I get along well with both of them, and while my coworker and I just got through a project that took longer than anticipated to complete, I thought we worked well together.

Now maybe I’m just paranoid, because I can’t decipher what the appointment actually means, I don’t know who initiated the meeting, and I haven’t heard anything from either one of them. I’m just concerned because my coworker is very influential (i.e. controlling) in the office, and has proven very effective in getting what she wants out of our boss. If she was talking about my performance with my boss, I’d like to know what the issue was, and address it directly.

Would it be inappropriate to inquire about this meeting with either my boss or coworker? I understand that it may not be my business, and perhaps my boss made a mistake in posting to a calendar everyone in the office can see, but if there is an issue that needs to be resolved, I’d like to get it out in the open and address it.

Ouch, this is awkward, but you can’t change the fact that you saw it and you weren’t snooping inappropriately, so yeah, I think you should raise it. Raise it with your boss, not your coworker, and say what you said here: “I didn’t mean to see this but it was on the public calendar and obviously it raised questions for me. I feel awkward asking about this but since I did see it and now it’s in my head, I don’t know what to do other than ask you about it. If there’s an issue that I need to fix, I’d like to get it out in the open.”

Also, don’t disregard the possibility that the discussion may have been a positive one. Maybe they’re talking about promoting you or giving you increased responsibilities. Or maybe not. But you might as well ask, since you didn’t discover it in any untoward way and it’s going to eat away at you until you find out.

By the way, I’d put money on my hunch that your boss doesn’t know that his calendar is public.

{ 5 comments… read them below }

  1. The Engineer*

    I wouldn’t tell your boss about how Outlook really works just yet. Wait a while (a couple of weeks) to see what (if anything) comes of the meeting. When you do tell the boss about “permissions” within Outlook, use a different example.

    If closed door meetings are that unusual in your office, then the boss didn’t intend for others to see the subject of one. No good for you will come from telling him you noticed. Do address any concerns you have about performance with your boss, but do it separately. Have you had a recent evaluation? Initiating an informal “mid year” review to review your current projects may allow the boss an easy out. Allowing him to bring up any issues without you calling attention to it in a potentially negative way.

  2. HR Wench*

    Interesting – I assume people are talking about me in closed door meetings on a daily basis…I don’t need blatant proof via Outlook.


    If this is really going to eat at you I would go with Ask A Manager’s advice. You sound like the type of person who is pretty up front. Just be forewarned that you may receive bad news and be prepared to take it well (i.e. if you can’t take the heat do NOT go into the kitchen).

  3. Nor Cal HR Gurl*

    I don’t think this should be brought up with the boss; if the boss wanted the reader to know about it s/he would have already brought it up.

    While the reader didn’t access the calendar inappropriately, it would be an inappropriate use of the calendar to approach the boss about the subject of a private meeting.

    If the reader is concerned about his/her performance, s/he should talk to his/her boss about that, but not about a private meeting.

Comments are closed.