my manager is excluding me from important conversations

A reader writes:

I need to have a conversation with my manager about why I continue to get excluded from strategic conversations when my teammates are included.

My colleague, who is just a bit senior than me, has mentioned on more than one occasion conversations she has had with our manager about overall strategic goals for the team or for the organization. Every time, I am left wondering: Wait… when did this conversation happen? Why wasn’t I invited?

I am starting to worry that there is something larger at play here. Last year, I was brand-new to the team, so in some sense I did not expect to get staffed on projects/conversations about the long-term vision for our work. This year, however, I have been here just as long as one person who participated in these conversations last year. (I hope that makes sense. That person has moved on from the role.)

Here’s a concrete example: I developed a tool this year for one client that has since been adapted for several other clients. Word got out in the community we served, and now other non-clients want us to come and give a talk about this tool. My colleague was asked to go give this talk, and I only heard about it from her in passing. Given that I created it, I imagine I should have the opportunity to be at this talk, and even help lead it.

Of course, a lot has run through my head about this. Does my boss not like me or think I do good work? I think she likes me quite a bit. I’ve independently led several projects that have generated so much positive publicity for the organization and for her, as my supervisor. When I needed a recommendation letter, she told me she would be thrilled to and only has glowing things to say about my work. Likewise, when I had my mid-year performance review, it was truly the best I’d had. (That has not always been the case. The one a year prior was lukewarm, as a result of a messy project I hadn’t managed well.)

I *do* find that she sometimes leads me down dead-ends — especially on a major project that she had me lead over a year ago that, to this day, has not materialized into anything substantial. I created the product, yes, but testing and implementing it has been incredibly stressful. She has refused to make a decision about it (she is incredibly indecisive and risk-averse), and I have given up trying to get buy-in for something I was *asked* to do in the first place.

Beyond how I feel about her management style, I would like to approach her about my feeling that I am not getting invited to important conversations. I want to know why that is, so that if it is an impression *I* am giving, that I can stop it immediately. Your thoughts?

Talk to her! Say something like this: “Jane often mentions to me that she’s been talking with you about our team’s strategic goals or the organization’s long-term vision, and I’d love to be included in conversations like that. I know those conversations often happen spontaneously, but when there are advance opportunities to be included and you think it makes sense, I’d really like to be.”

And if it fits in with the conversation, you can also ask, “Are there things I could do differently in my own performance that would lead me to being more involved in those types of discussions?”

Which that leads me to this: This might be less about something you’re doing wrong and more about something that your coworker is doing right. If she’s initiating strategic conversations with your manager and volunteering for projects, she might be simply making herself visible in a way that you’re not. In other words, it might not be that your manager is deliberately leaving you out, but rather than your coworker is putting herself in. And if so, you might look for ways that you can do that as well.

In fact, if you have a good relationship with your coworker, you could ask her about this too — not in a resentful way, of course, but something like, “I’ve noticed you and Emma often talk about things like this. I’d love to have those types of conversations with her too but for some reason I don’t seem to. Do you have any insight into how you’ve been able to make that happen, so that I can figure out what I can do on my end too?”

You might hear something in response that’s as simple as, “Oh, I just ask.”

But it’s also worth noting that that lukewarm performance evaluation from two years ago might still be lingering in your manager’s head — or more accurately, the performance that caused it. Performance problems can have a long shelf-life in managers’ memories, and even though you feel it’s behind you, it’s possible that she still looks at you as less skilled or reliable or less of a strategic thinker than your coworker. There might be something to that, or it might be wrong, but if none of the above works, you might consider that the echo of whatever happened that year could still be coloring the way she sees you. If that’s the case, and if tackling it head-on doesn’t work, it’s useful information to factor in as you ponder the next steps in your career.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 69 comments… read them below }

  1. Joey*

    I wonder if your manager knows you’re interested in participating in strategic conversations. I bet she knows your co worker is. I also bet if she knows she would try to give you more opportunities. Now of course there may be limited opportunities, but if you at least tell her your interests I bet she will in turn tell you what to expect in terms of opportunities.

  2. J.B.*

    It could be poor communication skills. Which are a major source of stress but not necessarily a reflection on your own skills. In which case working with folks at your level may be a good way to get a more reliable stream of information.

  3. Just a Reader*

    Also, project wise, a little initiative goes a long way. Whether or not the failed project was the OP’s idea, OP owned it and didn’t follow through. When you’re a project owner, buy-in is your job, and if you’re not getting it you elevate until you do.

    People who come up with projects that will add value to the organization typically get a lot further than those who are just following marching orders. Perhaps use the request to be included as a jumping off point to create project proposals that map to those strategic goals and make your boss look good–and then own the projects and follow through.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      I agree, but it can also be difficult to play the project champion when you really don’t support the idea. At all.

      I’ve been in this situation and almost quit over it. In my case, everyone in my group – including my boss – knew the project was a lemon of an idea. But there was pressure from the top and I was told to work miracles.

      1. Joey*

        Why? There’s little risk and a high possibility of reward if you can pull it off. If everyone says its going to fail and you fail there’s no little disappointment. But if everyone says its going to fail and you pull it off you’re an instant star.

        1. Ann O'Nemity*

          Unfortunately, my boss back then was a wimp. He wasn’t able or willing to push back to his boss on the unrealistic requirements so he assigned the lemon to me and distanced himself from it. When the project failed, he blamed me and I didn’t get my performance bonus for the first time ever.

          There was a happy ending eventually. I busted my butt and succeeded in many other projects. In a recent shuffling, I got a small promotion to a better department. And that wimpy boss got demoted and I hear he’s only hanging on by a thread.

          Anyway, I don’t want to derail the discussion any more than I already have. We don’t even know for sure if the OP isn’t being included in strategic planning because of the project buy-in issue, or if that’s simply a red herring.

          1. Jazzy Red*

            “Unfortunately, my boss back then was a wimp. He wasn’t able or willing to push back to his boss on the unrealistic requirements so he assigned the lemon to me and distanced himself from it. When the project failed, he blamed me and I didn’t get my performance bonus for the first time ever.”

            This is really what usually happens. Sometimes it’s just the old rock-and-a-hard-place scenario, and you’re the scapegoat.

        2. Elizabeth*

          Or you get tagged as the reason the project failed.

          It took several years for my reputation to recover from that.

  4. AB*

    I obviously don’t have enough context into the situation to say this is applicable to the OP’s situation, but I thought I’d share here a story I witnessed at work some time ago that gave me an a-ha moment.

    I was working on a project in which my responsibility ended when the design was approved. At that point, a technical lead was supposed to take charge, and soon she started complaining that she wasn’t invited to meetings, was left out of the loop in key decisions, etc. Meanwhile, I continued to get invitations to all meetings (against my wishes, as I was already working on other projects), and have my opinions requested by managers in mail threads I had to forward her. No matter how much the tech lead asked to be kept informed, nothing changed until she started to deliver value — following up on dependencies with other teams without being asked to, voluntarily bringing answers to questions the developers had, etc.

    Suddenly, everybody started to invite her to all meetings, because they now could see the value of having her there (whereas before it was easy to forget to add her to the list of invitees because she wasn’t contributing anything).

    In my work, I’m constantly asked to join strategic meetings with executives — sometimes so above my level that I go confirm with my manager if I really should be there, since sometimes even him wasn’t invited. I don’t like meetings, even knowing they could be a good thing to get exposure and advance my career, so I never ask to be involved, but I frequently am, both now and in past jobs, so it’s not a one-time thing. The conclusion I got from my colleague’s situation was that if you are taking initiative and bringing solutions to problems, people will naturally want to involve you in strategic conversations, because it will be in their best interest to have you there. Asking to be involved is one way of dealing with the problem, but as my colleague learned, figuring out what value you can add to the team, and going above and beyond your duties to provide superior results is a much more effective approach to get included in the important conversations.

    1. Just a Reader*

      This is a great example. That level of conversation and visibility is earned–it’s not a perk or a right.

    2. Original Poster*

      Hm. Thank you for sharing this story. Great points.
      (Will be thinking about how to implement this)

    3. Mike C.*

      I’m really confused about your example here. Are you trying to say that the new technical lead was locked out right at the start of being assigned the project?

      If so, how can this person ever prove value if they’re locked out from the very beginning?

      1. AB*

        Mike C.,

        She wasn’t locked out, but she was constantly forgotten when meetings were scheduled (1) because she was new to the list; and (2) when she found out about a meeting and joined, she wasn’t being helpful.

        I think she realized that sending repeated emails “please add me to your meetings”, “you had a meeting and didn’t invite me” etc. wasn’t working. So after reading meeting notes that were published to the intranet or ended up being forwarded to her, she decided to start helping coordinate the efforts with other teams.

        She actually became an awesome technical lead, and after everybody saw how helpful she was, things got to where she wanted, with she being CCed in emails and people making sure she was indeed in the list of invitees for any meetings.

        1. Mike C.*

          I get that someone not being immediately helpful isn’t the best situation ever, but if I’m told to work with someone or with a team, then I do so.

          My bosses would be furious if I kept forgetting to include someone they assigned to the project and it would make me look stupid or worse.

          Maybe it’s a company/industry culture thing, I don’t know.

          1. chico*

            I am glad you said this. I thought I was the only one thinking that situation sounded messed up.

            1. Jessa*

              Exactly. How is the new person ever going to become included if they’re not from the start. If they’re not being productive then management needs to deal with that. Not exclude them.

          2. AB*

            I guess I wasn’t very clear — this was a huge project with multiple teams. There was nothing to do with lack of team work, on the contrary. Just a lot of work to do and people grouping to do it as fast as possible, inviting to meetings who they thought needed to be there.

            Once this colleague shifted focus from “I want to be included, don’t ignore me” to “let me see where I can be useful”, things fall into place because automatically people started to remember to invite her because she was finally contributing. Does it make more sense now?

            1. MaryTerry*

              You colleague changed her actions and reactions at work – she probably started reading this blog or something…

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This is a great example! People are much more likely to invite you to stuff if it simply seems natural to them that of course they’d want you and your ideas there than if they’re just supposed to remember to invite you because of the role you inhabit.

      1. Scott M*

        I understand that sometimes the world doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to and we have to work with the way things are. But fer cryin’ out loud! If people don’t assign work based upon the “role you inhabit”, then how the heck does anything get done? Do you invite Bob the janitor to a meeting about installing a new server because you had a conversation with him about the Minecraft server he set up for his kids?
        And the door swings both ways too. Rather than being left out, some people get extra responsibility shoved on them that they shouldn’t be responsible for, because it seems ‘natural’ that that person should be involved, even though it isn’t their job.
        Additionally, what happens when this person leaves the company. Who is going to cover all this stuff they’ve been handling? Does anyone even know what they are doing, if it is outside their job responsibilities?
        It just bugs me when management doesn’t put time into developing coherent roles and the people in them, and just allows this ‘wild west’ environment to develop where anything goes.
        Just ranting I guess.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          “understand that sometimes the world doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to and we have to work with the way things are. But fer cryin’ out loud! If people don’t assign work based upon the “role you inhabit”, then how the heck does anything get done?”

          Because we are dealing with humans, not machines, and it’s human nature to go to the people who your experience tells you will be most helpful and not as much to those who won’t.

          1. Scott M*

            Its also human nature to want to sleep late and not go sit at a desk for 8 hours a day. But you can be sure my boss would notice if I stopped showing up to work. I wish management paid the same amount of attention to assigning roles and responsibilities.

            Sigh, just one more aspect of life I’ll have to adjust to. Perhaps I have alien parents and switched at birth or something. :)

        2. Ann O'Nemity*

          “Rather than being left out, some people get extra responsibility shoved on them that they shouldn’t be responsible for, because it seems ‘natural’ that that person should be involved, even though it isn’t their job.”

          Thank you, thank you. My company does this far too often, leading the “stars” to burn out while the less-than-stellar are left twiddling their thumbs.

      2. AM*

        In my opinion. I think if you are not invited to get involve in conversation means that they don’t want you to be part the project or activities and would like you to be just a spectator. I bet if indirectly you give any idea that relates to project they will first to implement it silently without you knowing it.

  5. Original Poster*

    Thank you for the response. You raise good points.
    Perhaps my poor performance on the project a year ago IS still on her mind. The project did get completed, by the way, and was done well. It was only that I did not communicate clearly and early enough the challenges it entailed.

    I took over that project while a colleague was on a leave of absence, and it was super messy… and I did not want to rattle on her. My boss believed the mistakes were mine :-/ — Months later, she actually apologized for her reaction when she fully grasped all the issues with the project. So, I did not think this was something I needed to worry about.

    It is very possible that my colleague is doing something more “right” than I am. I will use the example you suggested in the first paragraph, Alison, and see how things go. I know, for example, that my colleague likes to take on the role of synthesizing the ideas of others — and frequently will be praised for the work when the other members of the team will have done all the heavy lifting on the project, while she only “added the cherry on top.”
    (Sigh… perhaps that’s a different issue altogether…)

    And perhaps yet another issue: I would appreciate any suggestions on pushing for the implementation of my previous project. I had resigned myself to focusing on two other projects that I started that have been so successful that we want to scale them… but I continue to be resentful about that other project and the ceiling it keeps bumping up against (i.e, I’ve gotten pats on the back from my boss for it, yet she stalls and stalls and ultimately does not give the OK for implementation).

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Can you sit down with your boss and ask, “What needs to happen for us to move this forward?” If she doesn’t give you a direct answer, say, “I’m trying to figure out if I should still be spending energy on this or if, realistically, it’s not likely to go anywhere for a while. What’s your sense?”

    2. Zahra*

      You say:

      “I know, for example, that my colleague likes to take on the role of synthesizing the ideas of others — and frequently will be praised for the work when the other members of the team will have done all the heavy lifting on the project, while she only “added the cherry on top.””

      Can you do that for your own ideas? Or ask her to help you do that? (In a “I noticed you have a knack for synthesizing ideas and I’d like to do that for my own, can you give me a few tips?” way.) If it happens in meetings, try to include a tl;dr when you finish presenting your ideas and link them to other people’s projects/ideas. Alternatively, try to keep your own interventions on the shorter side and focus on the main points on how the project aligns itself with the department’s/company’s strategic objectives.

    3. Anonicorn*

      If you aren’t already, is there somewhere you can document your work (like a project tracker)?

      It might help when you talk to your boss about pushing for certain projects and helping her see exactly what contributions you’ve made. It could also show that the other coworker isn’t doing all the heavy lifting.

      1. Anon*

        I had a co-worker like this. I think most people do once in a while.

        She was almost cunning in how she did things, but she was 15 years older than me and more experienced.
        Make this person your friend, learn.. and keep your eyes open.

        And take time to check in with your boss and let them know what you are interested in.

        Good luck!!

  6. Anon*

    Holy moly, I was just going to send in this exact question.

    What should I do if I ask to be included and get brushed off – always spur of the moment, “I didn’t set it up; so-and-so did”, etc.? Note that I’ve been told I need to be in control of the processes that generate the need for these discussions.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Sometimes your manager is just really, really busy. I know it’s not a good excuse, but that’s honestly just how it is sometimes. Since I became a manager I feel like I have ADD sometimes – I’m constantly getting interrupted, getting things thrown at me to do, people are asking me questions, etc. It’s just a very busy job at times.

      I would recommend you ask for a time to meet with your manager and discuss your concerns. Offer suggestions. Don’t make it about how you wanted to be included in the past – make it about moving forward.

      1. Anonymous*

        It often is my manager or his boss. In calm moments, they say they want me running the show on particular issues; when the rubber meets the road though, they waffle. I have discussed it with my manager several times. One discussion in particular went very badly. That’s probably a huge part of my problem here. . . talking about it hasn’t been effective, and I get frustrated when they tell me to take charge more. “I need you all to let me”, you know?

    2. glennis*

      I have experienced this some – I have been assigned projects on several occasions – usually research-and-recommend – and have done them well and on time. But my supervisor was unable to implement them, for whatever reasons – sometimes it was budgetary, sometimes it was because upper managements’ priorities had changed, sometimes it was just her own fault. In all cases, I did the project but things never materialized. I am wondering whether I can refer to some of this work in interviews and cover letters, even though they didn’t happen.

  7. Jamie*

    Failure to include =/= exclusion.

    As someone aptly noted above, the key is to add value. There have been times where I’ve included someone because it would be good for them and their career…but that’s if you’re very new or very junior. For peers and above we pull people in because Ricky will have ideas about how to best sell this, or Steve is great at the logistics – his input will make it go a lot faster…

    Basically when you have a problem or need long term strategy you think about who has the tools to facilitate that. Be the person with valuable tools is the simplest answer.

    1. Anon*

      The problem with this approach is that by selectively inviting people who can add value to the meeting, you may exclude people for whom the meeting/discussion add value.

        1. Just a Reader*

          I misread–I would say it’s on the people who need info to track it down, not wait to be invited to meetings that may or may not be helpful.

        2. Scott M*

          Actually, you can. I see this happen all the time at my company. No one is really sure who should be involved, so they invite everyone and their brother. And it’s precisely because the roles here are not clearly defined.

      1. Jamie*

        But it’s not excluding anyone – which I am using an an active verb …and yes, not being included because of not being seen as relevant to the discussion may have the same end result but it’s not the same thing.

        If I am excluding Karl I don’t want him in the meeting, and will ask about it if someone invites him. If I’m not including him because his name didn’t come up, that’s just not including him. Same result in that he’s not in the meeting, but the first is harder to overcome (and to be honest – I’ve never excluded anyone from a meeting. Hard enough to get the people who are required to be there to show up on time.)

        But while long term career growth should be critical to each individual employee and to their managers as a overarching goal the day to day ins and outs of business is to get crap done. Add value to the company, get projects moving and completed on budget and on time and that is what’s foremost in people’s minds. The day to day stuff isn’t about adding value to the individuals – it’s about the goals of the company.

        Those aren’t mutually exclusive – you just have to develop the value and visibility so that the individual goal to be included fills the company need to get crap done.

        1. AB*

          “Add value to the company, get projects moving and completed on budget and on time and that is what’s foremost in people’s minds. ”

          Yes. Earlier in my career I used to think I’d never amount to anything because I abhor politics, ignore advice such as “never eat lunch alone” and often do the opposite of what people say you need to do to get ahead.

          But soon I started to learn that nothing furthers your career more (at least when you are not interested in a management track) than getting superior results. The CEO of the very large company I work for came recently to visit our branch, and some of my colleagues rushed to sit right in the front seat in the conference room. At the end were almost pushing each other for a chance to shake the CEO’s hands (I was embarrassed for them). I sat way behind with other colleagues and left as soon as the event ended, but if being invited to important meetings at the office is any measure of success (and for these colleagues, it is), I’m still way ahead of the front-row people, heh.

  8. Mike C.*

    I see the visibility issue at work all the time, but many times it feels like a catch-22.

    I work in an environment where we’re constantly putting out fires – this requires knowing the latest needs of our management, and these priorities can change by the day or hour. If I’m not told or if I’m left off of an important email or meeting invite, I’m not going to know those latest priorities and I won’t be able to give the best value that I can. Furthermore, I’ve seen employees that will exclude team members from important communications in an effort to play politics.

    I get the value of someone who can “anticipate needs” or “take the initiative”, but it feels wrong to me to leave peer employees out of the discussion. You don’t want employees to feel alienated or that there’s favoritism at play here.

    There’s a lot of context missing to judge if anything of this sort is happening, but it feels odd to me to include some team members in overarching strategic conversations and exclude others.

    1. likesdesifem*

      I don’t see it as odd at all.

      It depends on the reason for a manager possessing an inner circle. If it’s his or her best and brightest on merit, then so be it. If his or her inner circle is based on petty favourtism, then this is not a positive thing.

      I would imagine many managers hold an inner circle, as not all information needs to be shared freely with all.

  9. Elaine*

    So, am I the only one who’s had a psycho, credit stealing, competitive, manipulative coworker? I designed and implemented a huge novel program that won literally global recognition and adoption at my last job–while I was incredibly busy doing the actual work, she was just as busy somehow manipulating people (my peers) into thinking she’d done the work.

    I had to sit down with them and show them the program planning document revisions with track changes, and remind them that the program started well before she was even hired. She was sooooo good it manipulating people though. Ick.

    1. glennis*

      Hah, I just worked with one today. Because of our agency’s re-org, two departments are being folded into one, and half the staff is being laid off, including myself. I was a budget-and-operations person, and she is a budget-and-policy person, and since they’re suspending our operation, it was her position that was saved, not mine.

      But here’s the thing – she’s a relatively new hire, and budget is not her strong suit. As a matter of fact, this year’s budget is the first one she’s prepared.

      So while I’ve been assigned all the shut-down duties, she was assigned the budget and I was told to stand down – it makes sense, since it is next year’s budget and I won’t be here any longer.

      But she can’t do it, so is she constantly coming to me on the sly, asking me to do it. or asking me to advise her, and then presenting that work as her own.

      Since I’m trying to find a transfer position in the organization, I am trying to be as helpful and positive and collaborative as possible, I feel that I would not help myself by refusing to help her. But it really galls me that she is presenting the work as her own, not mine. Plus, she really doesn’t “get” our budget, so the amount of handholding I have to do for her is excessive.

      1. Mike C.*

        You were told to stand down, right? Then stand down.

        You aren’t getting any credit, so why do you think this is going to help you?

        1. glennis*

          Well, she comes to me. If I shut her down, I might blow my chances for a transfer.

          Not that I am thinking a transfer is forthcoming, but it would really scotch it if she went back to management and said I was unhelpful.

          1. Mike C.*

            So your fear is that she’s going to tell your boss that you’re not going to do something you were told by your boss not to do?

      2. CoffeeLover*

        Tell her that since you were explicitly told to step away from the process, you can’t be her first point of contact for help with the budget. Suggest that she go to her manager if she needs greater clarification, then her manager can bring you in if it’s not something she knows the answer to. She’ll either stop asking the questions or your manager will see how much she’s relying on you.

        1. CoffeeLover*

          Alternatively, you can go to the manager and see how she wants you to handle it while simultaneously showing how much you’ve helped so far. “Jane has been coming to me on a daily basis asking questions about the budget. Like yesterday I helped her with X. I want to be helpful, but at the same time you did tell me to not be this involved in the budget. How do you want me to handle future requests for help?”

          1. Mike C.*


            Be incredibly explicit about how much of the work you’ve been doing as well. You have nothing to lose here, and you’d want your manager to make an informed decision, right? ;)

  10. Cassie*

    AAM’s comment about how maybe the coworker is volunteering or initiating is right on – I’m the kind of person who does my work and if someone asks me for help, I’m glad to help but I rarely volunteer because I assume that people will ask if they need or want my help. I don’t want to step on any toes.

    Yet there are people in my office who do volunteer or take initiative. And they get those assignments even on tasks that should go to other people. So I’m trying to keep that in mind moving forward – people aren’t mind-readers. If you want to be involved in this project or take on this duty, just ask. Don’t be pushy, obviously, but there shouldn’t be any harm in asking.

  11. likesdesifem*

    IMO, any one item is applicable:

    – Your manager is playing favourites, but in a malicious/unprofessional manner.

    – Your colleague is simply a better worker than you, and your manager is rewarding her for this. That’s not meant to be denigrating, but managers (even good ones) will reward more competent employees with good assignments. It fosters motivation and development in employees, and a good manager always seeks to develop personnel who show potential or are capable.

    – Your colleague shows more initiative in solving problems and/or issues that arise.

    In honesty, I don’t agree with approaching the manager directly to say if you can be involved. One option can be to present some ideas to your manager regarding the team’s strategy, and ask if you can provide input into the process (without mentioning your co-worker’s name/involvement). I feel mentioning her involvement will look as if your envious or resentful, and this is something one should never display to a manager, IMO.

  12. Camellia*

    “But it’s also worth noting that that lukewarm performance evaluation from two years ago might still be lingering in your manager’s head — or more accurately, the performance that caused it. Performance problems can have a long shelf-life in managers’ memories, and even though you feel it’s behind you, it’s possible that she still looks at you as less skilled or reliable or less of a strategic thinker than your coworker. ”

    Exactly why I recommend changing jobs every few years. We all make mistakes, learn, grow, and improve our skills but sometimes those past mistakes do linger. Take your skills and experience to another organization and start fresh!

  13. Meg*

    I have a very similar experience. My organization has two groups of web developers – Core and Pool. Core doesn’t really belong to any one team; they just basically build HTML/CSS/JS mockups, fix bugs, and consult other teams. Pool developers are the team-specific developers. I am a Core developer, so I work with a lot of different teams (the Core developers tend to have very specific roles and skills. There’s 4 of us, plus our project manager).

    I started working with this one particular team who designed some Photoshop mockups of their new web project. Cool, no problem. I started working on doing the HTML/CSS mockups. Then designs started changing, and NO ONE TOLD ME! I’d have most of them done, submit for review, and get a reply back “Oh, this is the old style. We’ve got with these. These are the updated designs.” Grrr okay.

    Meanwhile, I’ve got a handful of other projects to work on, plus my daily slew of bugs to fix, and the general consulting tickets I get from teams whose projects are going to production and need some troubleshooting.

    4 pages turned into 11, extra things were being added, etc… and I had no idea. Finally, during one my teams monthly meetings about where we talk about what we’re doing, what we have planned, what we like, what we don’t like, etc, I mentioned that this team that I’ve been working with keeps changing requirements without telling me, and I wasn’t very fond of wasting time on that project. Next day, that team’s project manager came to me and is like, “Oh, we have a meeting today at 2pm if you’d like to come.” Oh, so you don’t telepathically agree on design changes. Cool. Turns out they have a weekly meeting same day, same time… that no one told me about before, and wondering why I’m so out of the loop.

    (I now try to avoid these meetings at all costs.)

    1. Scott M*

      Oh yeah, the telepathic meeting request. I’ve heard of those. Luckily people around here are pretty good at scheduling meetings on Outlook. They are so good that they can schedule huge numbers of them with tons of people, for the littlest thing.

      Hall meetings are an issue around here. God forbid I wait until I reeeealy need to have a bio-break, because chances are I’ll be stopped 5 times before I get to the bathroom, to “just talk about one thing”.

  14. Mike C.*

    I just read an article where a member of the House of Representatives was complaining that his own party leadership wasn’t including him in discussions on immigration reform. The guy also has a reputation for getting in the news for all the wrong reasons.

    Maybe the two are connected… ;)

  15. Jacque*

    People are picked on at work for some many reasons…one important thing you guys didn’t seem to talk about here is bullying…I know someone who works harder than most people but yet is left out of most meetings, he doesn’t get invited to meetings but everyone else does. I know this because I hear them all the time gossiping about him all the time. Bullying is a serious issue this isn’t about what anyone brings to the team. we need to lookout for others….

  16. L See*

    Regarding “Talk to her! Say something like this: “Jane often mentions to me that she’s been talking with you about our team’s strategic goals or the organization’s long-term vision, and I’d love to be included in conversations like that. I know those conversations often happen spontaneously, but when there are advance opportunities to be included and you think it makes sense, I’d really like to be.”
    –Done that. The fact that I continue to be left out of conversations about projects assigned to me has gotten to the point of being distracting and very embarrassing. Coworkers see it. The coworker initiating the conversations with our manager is walking on cloud nine – her backstabbing tactics are working and the manager is happy to oblige her agenda.

    Jacque’s comment about bullying is spot on. The workplace culture of bullying is alive and well and, other than looking for another job (not an option for me-I’m in my 50’s), there is no productive and successful way to defend yourself against it.

    Whether the intent is bullying, sabotage, or ignorance, the result is the same. I find I spend more than 30% of my work day being on guard for passive-aggressive attacks from a coworker and opportunities to remind my manager that I exist and provide fruits of my labor as evidence that I do have something valuable to contribute for the good of the organization.

  17. M*

    Clearly you are not as savvy as some of your peers. Talking directly to your boss is not the best way to go. Stop worrying about being included or not, and just keep the comms going with the peer(s) that keep you informed. This is known as ‘politics’ and is an essential part of the work game. It’s imperative that you not lose the trust of those who are keeping you in the loop, and you may just do so if your boss cuts your informant out of the loop as well. Then, you and your co-worker will not have a clue what is going on. Bosses inform those they believe they can trust to do the right thing and not make them look bad. Be very cognizant of your own behavior as it relates to making your boss look bad, or not doing enough to warrant that type of trust. This is normal behavior in the workplace. Don’t take it personally. Learn from it and then this will not happen to you in the future.

    I know. I have over 25 years of experience in these settings.

  18. Andrea*

    Great article, and perfect for what I was googling. I have these kinds of issues all the time. I’m reasonably ambiverted, but like to be alone. I realize that often my great ideas are in my head, but I *do* expect the leaders I work with to have at the very least READ my resume and know what experience I’ve had and what I’m capable of. Sadly I lack social potency, and I find people don’t *want* to include me. They happy to befriend me, and get advice from me, and allow me to do their work, but… I’m perpetually excluded, disregarded, underestimated and simply disrespected professionally. I know my face/demeanor has something to do with it, but the physical issues I have aren’t correctable instantly (as if I would, simply to please anybody so shallow as to exclude me because of assumptions based on my face). I just find it infuriating watching less experienced, less professionally mature, less critical thinking peers be handed project after project while I’m virtually ignored. I offer to help and get weird looks, or rude brush offs. I’m offered future projects, which I follow up on, only to walk in on (what feel like clandestine) meetings where the project is being discussed and handed over to yet another colleagues already buried in all the truly interesting responsibilities that I’m just not getting. The staff turn to me for advice, listen to me, trust me but in the end only follow their assigned leaders. When I’m in the position of manager/supervisor I do really well – I’ve decided it’s essentially because people are now forced to be led by me – which they’re perfectly happy about in the end – but don’t seem to choose on their own. They always seem *surprised* that I’m such a good leader, because THEIR assumptions about me before hand are clearly that I wouldn’t be (despite knowing me, chatting with me, consulting me, asking for advice and help with their personal issues). I have essentially come to the conclusion that I’m meant to own my own business or work entirely alone – because the emotional damage from this kind of baffling treatment has become too much for me. :(

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