It’s extremely frustrating when a boss takes you for granted. Especially when you know you’ve been carrying more than your fair share of the load. It’s true that any boss should expect you to do the job you were hired for. But at least a little praise or positive feedback would be nice.
And it’s not like you expect a “thank you” every time you do something. But you certainly don’t want to feel like you’re invisible either. As if the work gets done by some magical force, while you just happen to be getting a paycheck!
So why does a boss takes you for granted?
Well, there are a few reasons your boss might not be heaping you with praise. At least not directly to your face. And you might be surprised at how it looks from the other side.
So let’s first take a look at the reasons from your point of view. And then we’ll turn to the perspective of how your boss might see it.
How it feels to you
- All your hard work is being ignored
- You feel invisible.
- You’re tired of being taken for granted.
- “Why should I stay if no one appreciates me?”
- Your boss doesn’t think you’re doing a good job.
What your boss might be thinking
Your boss might actually recognize your value, but doesn’t think about mentioning it. Or thinks you must realize how much he depends on you, doesn’t that say it? And sometimes we simply become part of the “family” — and who remembers to tell family how important they are?
Well, of course, none of those silences are helpful to a person who naturally wants some feedback — positive feedback especially. And, even if we were told at some point that we are valued, as time goes on, and nothing more is said, it’s easy to start to feel that a boss takes you for granted.
My own “boss takes you for granted” story
Many years ago, after realizing that banking was not my dream career, I decided to look for work in my undergrad degree — theater. Knowing that sometimes you just have to get your foot in the door, I took a part-time job with a small theater company.
It was only helping with intermission refreshment sales and occasional ushering, but I loved it. And I loved being there. Soon I was helping with all kinds of things, beyond my paid hours. And I felt very comfortable being part of the “family”. (Remember what I said earlier about family.)
My bosses seemed to rely on me, and I got occasional nods of approval. But then I saw a copy of the program for the latest production. It went on thanking lots of people – but not one word about me. I got myself fired up. “After all I do for them? I’m tired of being taken for granted!”
But was I really being taken for granted?
As I said, this was a long time ago when I was still pretty wet behind the ears. Before I understood the importance of regular communication with a boss. And before I understood how to do subtle internal PR for yourself. Also how to ask for what you need.
And it was way before I learned how much of our work misery we can cause ourselves. I was busy pushing my own buttons about being ignored and undervalued. But nothing my bosses did ever pointed to that — apart from them not being great at regular communication and feedback.
Anyway, I worked myself into a tizzy and found another job. And when I walked in to deliver the news, hurt feelings wrapped around me like a protective coat, turns out my bosses had come up with a new job for me — General Manager.
I was too proud to take it, and too caught up in my own feelings. But lesson well learned. And now shared.
So what can you do to help if a boss takes you for granted?
Not every boss is a great communicator. In fact, most probably aren’t. So we have to take care of ourselves — and our needs. Some things that can help:
- Without popping in every 5 minutes, initiate informal work-related chats with your boss every now and then. More often if they seem to welcome it.
- Ask for feedback if they don’t give it. And be prepared for things they would like done differently — but also ask what they think you’re doing well so you get a feel for their needs / expectations.
- If they do have criticism, ask for specific goals and any suggestions. Be open to what they are telling you, even if you disagree. Again, it helps you understand them better.
- Let them know when things are going well. Show your enthusiasm for the work. This is the subtle PR part — no bragging, just casual progress reports that show what you’re up to that’s good for them too.
- Express interest in a project you’d like to work on or a new skill the company needs that you’d enjoy learning. Don’t feel bad if they say no. Using what you learn from your communication with them, you’ll eventually find something you feel good about that gets you a “yes”.
And if your boss takes you for granted or you feel left out in the cold, screw up the courage to address it. Ask for a meeting. Our minds can feed a problem until it becomes insurmountable. The way mine did. Best to meet it head on and look for solutions. Or at least know where you really do stand.
Some articles to help