You might be talking. But is the boss listening? Image: Shutterstock

Friday 17th June 2016

The snub of it

Is your boss ignoring you?

There’s a Hollywood saying much favoured by actresses of a certain age. ‘I can’t even get arrested around here,’ they say, meaning that irrespective of what they do, no-one’s paying them any attention. Now, it looks like that level of invisibility extends well beyond Tinseltown.

One in three British workers feels their efforts go unnoticed by their manager or boss. Research of over 2000 UK workers by the One4all Rewards Spotlight Awards found that 41% of respondents reckon they’re ignored ‘most or some of the time’.

The research also explores what workers do to try to gain attention. 21% decide to work longer hours. That’s pretty understandable, given a boss who ignores you can make you fear for your financial stability.

Talk to the hand. Pic: Shutterstock
Talk to the hand. Pic: Shutterstock

There are plenty of reasons why bosses ignore a report, of course, and not many are down to the report’s shortcomings. Often it’s because of the boss’s workload, the boss’s misunderstanding of what management entails or even that the boss herself has personal problems.

For the sake of an employee’s sanity, it’s best for her not to assume that being ignored means she’s incompetent or under threat. Sometimes it might mean the very opposite. ‘Of course I’m not paying much attention to X,’ her boss might be thinking. ‘X knows exactly what she’s doing – it’s those useless idiots Y and Z I need to supervise closely.’

Anyway, we’ve assembled five things to do if you think your manager’s showing you more cold shoulder than the Waitrose deli counter.


  • If you can, schedule regular but brief catch-up meetings with your manager. In the catch-ups, ensure that you keep a positive attitude and demonstrate reasonable enthusiasm for your role and the organisation.
  • Help your manager out with something that’s important to her – ideally, something she might find difficult such as a presentation or a tricky report. Adding value to her personally is an excellent way to melt any ice.
  • Try asking colleagues
    Try asking colleagues

    Ask your boss directly if there’s an issue. If he doesn’t engage, ask your colleagues. There’s a reasonable likelihood that they’re in a similar predicament. If so, you can worry about the situation a lot less.

  • Let your boss know when you’re available to take on additional work. Offers like that are pretty hard to ignore, and to respect.
  • If all else fails, ask your boss’s boss what’s going on. Going over your boss’s head is usually a pretty poor idea – but if you’ve exhausted every other option, it makes sense. You’re entitled to feedback, even (perhaps especially) if you’re not performing to your full potential.


  • Write emails to your boss in red 64pt Comic Sans caps to get noticed. People have been sacked for this kind of crime against office etiquette.
  • Ignore your boss back. According to some psychologists, ‘the damage [from doing so] can be both emotional and physiological [including] anxiety and aggression as well as erectile dysfunction and urinary and bowel problems.’
  • Toupee or not toupee?
    Toupee or not toupee?

    Wear a clown wig. Yes, it’ll probably bring some attention your way. But your boss might be a coulrophobe and then you’ll be in an even worse situation. (12% of people in the US are coulrophobes, according to research.)

  • Kidnap your boss’s family. If he’s ignoring you, it could be because he’s got problems at home. He’ll be only too happy to see the back of his wife and kids.
  • Flirt with your boss. You might get done for intimidation, or worse still, end up in a relationship. In a US survey 21% of workers admitted to dating their boss but only 13% of women who did so reckoned it helped their career. Being ignored can sometimes be the preferable alternative.

About the author

Andrew Baird

Andrew is the CEO of HRville. He is also Employer Brand Director of Blackbridge Communications, Editorial Director of Professionals in Law and an associate of The Smarty Train. Previously, he was the MD of TCS Advertising.