• Getting shut out by your boss makes work harder
  • Find the root cause for your boss’ behavior and take action to fix things
  • Don’t let a shitty boss stop you from continuing to shine
“Hey, how do you feel about Andy’s decision on your pilot program?”

“What? I didn’t know that Andy was part of this.”

It’s the curveball question that comes out of nowhere and stops you in your tracks. You have no opinion about what Andy said, mainly because you didn’t know that he was part of the executive committee.

Apparently, your boss “forgot” to tell you about yet another critical meeting on your project.

You took the lead on the project but your boss often “forgets” to tell you about key conversations, meetings and events related to the project. Even boring conference calls are left off your radar.

It’s just the latest example of you being sidelined by your boss and lately, it feels like they are leaving you out of the loop intentionally. It feels like your relationship has hit rock bottom.

You regularly get left out of meetings, even ones that are crucial for your work. They never ask for your input or thoughts. You’re always the last to know about everything.

And if you need support, you’re on your own. The harder you try to get it right, the more out of the loop you feel.

You have to work twice as hard to meet your deadlines since you’re getting no help from your boss. It’s exhausting and you don’t know how long you can keep going like this.

You don’t know why it’s happening either.

Have you broken a golden rule?

Or is your boss just a control freak who loves power play?

Whatever the root cause, it’s having a huge impact on your ability to do your job. You can’t do your best work when information is being withheld.

And above all, it makes managing work stress impossible.

Then there’s the big question. Is your boss taking the coward’s way of trying to get you out? It’s only natural to jump to this conclusion but it’s not always as hopeless as it feels.

With the right strategy in place, you can break down the walls that are standing between you and your boss. And if that proves impossible, you’ve got other options too. 

Why Bosses Sometimes Shut You Out

There can be lots of reasons why your boss may be shutting you out and most of the time, it’s not your fault. That doesn’t make office life any easier though. It’s still super tough, even if it’s not your doing.

Here are some of the reasons why your boss may be leaving you out in the cold. 

1) You’re A Threat 

Shut outs can happen because your boss sees you as a threat to their position, authority and credibility.

You don’t even need to be making moves on their job to be seen as a threat. You just need to have been doing good work.

That can be threatening enough for a boss that’s out of their depth and they’re insecure. They’re scared you’ll outshine them and their boss will notice that they’re not up to scratch.

In this study from Public Organization Review, leaders who have this kind of insecure behavior only make your job satisfaction go down the shitter.

It’s a tough spot to be in. You need their support to carry on performing your best but you’re clearly not going to get it. 

2) They Don’t Like You

When you start a new job or get a new boss, you always hope that you’ll hit it off and get off to a great start. In reality, it won’t always happen and that can set the tone for the rest of your relationship.

Sometimes, you just have a mutual dislike from the moment you meet, especially if your personalities don’t mesh. It makes managing your boss that much more difficult.

Being sidelined is one of the subtle signs that they’re not that crazy about you.

In addition to keeping you out of the loop, they may also avoid interacting with you at all. They never speak to you unless they have to and even that’s cold. This is the type of shut out that feels really personal and it’s probably not happening to anyone else.

3) They Think They’re Doing You A Favor 

It’s not always bad news when your boss leaves you out of the loop.

They may have no bad intentions when they shut you out. Sometimes, they think it’s a good thing and they’re allowing you to focus on your work by keeping you out of stupid meetings.

However, in some cases, it doesn’t occur to them that you might actually need to be involved to get that work done. This is an easy one to resolve as it’s just a case of crossed wires. There’s no malicious intent on your boss’ part. 

4) They’re A Total Control Freak

Face it, some bosses have huge egos. They just love to wield their power by controlling the access to and flow of information. It allows them to navigate office politics with an advantage.

It’s their way or no way at all and it makes life incredibly stressful. They shut you out because they can. It’s power play at its finest.

Some control freak bosses are also micromanagers, which creates even more stress. You know the kind - they nitpick font sizes, pixel alignment, etc.

If you’ve got a boss like this, they learned by watching this little 2-minute clip on how to micromanage like an asshole.

VIDEO: How To Micromanage
YOUTUBE: Howcast
LENGTH: 2:10
This situation really blows.

You get the double whammy of not being able to complete even the simplest of tasks without their approval and being kept in the dark about anything that’s actually important. 

5) Something Has Changed

But sometimes, the problem may also be you. Partly, at least. Maybe you did something to piss them off. Maybe you dropped the ball and they had to clean up the mess. If you dig deep, you might find a reason.

On the other hand, it could be that the change in your relationship isn’t down to you at all. Maybe their personal, family or financial situation has changed and it’s had a ripple effect on you.

Or maybe something has changed in their relationship with their boss and it’s having a domino effect downward on you.

This can be especially tough if you have a hard time setting solid boundaries at work.

What To Do If Your Boss Is Shutting You Out

Work life can feel impossible when you’re being shut out. How are you supposed to get shit done when you’re being blocked all the damn time?

Take a few deep breaths, maybe even do a one-minute meditation and then start forming an action plan.

There are things you can do to try to break down the barriers between you and your boss and if you can’t do that, you still have other options to make life better.

1) See If You’re The Only One

Is it just you that’s being shut out or does your boss give everyone the brush off?

You need to know for sure if you’re being singled out and if your boss behaves normally with everyone but you. This is a likely scenario if your boss doesn’t like you. They’re probably fine with everyone else but give you an obvious brush-off.

Maybe that’s why you didn’t get that promotion?

You gotta get outside perspectives on the situation.

Are you just being paranoid or have other people noticed that you’re being treated differently? It’s all about validating your gut feel so you can tell if there’s a real issue that needs to be addressed.

Even if other people don’t have any problems with your boss, it’s not always personal. It may be that your working styles don’t match up well and you need to find the middle ground that works for both of you. 

2) Take A Close Look At Your Relationship 

Has your boss been shutting you out from the get-go or is this a recent development?

If you used to get along well but you’re now getting the cold shoulder, something might have triggered this new behavior. And it might or might not be down to you.

Be truly honest with yourself here. If you’ve fucked up, it’s time to step up and repair the damage before shit hits the fan big time.

But the fault won’t always lie with you.

Your boss may be spinning too many plates, drowning under the weight of expectation from their boss, or navigating a personal crisis.

You just don’t know. So this is why you have to...

3) Have A Candid One-To-One

Go straight to the source. It’s the only way to find out what’s fueling the shut out and whether you can salvage the situation.

A one-on-one might give you another perspective you hadn’t considered before. And it might give them food for thought too.

If your boss thinks they’re doing you a favor by not inviting you to meetings, getting on the same page can turn things around. They’ll know how their “favors” are actually affecting your performance. They’ll likely be super surprised and more than willing to get you involved.

Or, your boss might shed light on something you did wrong or a personal crisis that’s affecting their behavior.

But whatever you do, don’t let your emotions get the better of you. You need to keep calm and not get angry or aggressive.

Ask if there’s anything you can do to help them. If they still won’t help you, you’ll need support from elsewhere. 

4) Ask HR To Intervene 

If your boss is ruining your career progression and making you feel stuck at work by shutting you out, you’ve got reasonable grounds to get HR involved.

Make sure you document every example of being shut out. That way, it won’t seem like petty complaining. You’ll have solid evidence that their behavior is impacting your performance.

The golden rule here?

Don’t frame the discussion as a way to escape an asshole boss. Pitch it as a way to move up the career ladder in a different team. You’ll still look super professional.

5) Fill The Knowledge Gap

If you still can’t get what you need from your boss, build alliances with people who can help you fill in the blanks. These people can become key allies who support your career and help you get places.

Your coworkers or peer mentors can help too. If they aren’t being shut out, they can fill you in on what happens in meetings and pass on the information you need. You can also call in favors when you’re up against the wall.

Gaining strong allies is crucial when your boss isn’t supporting you. But it’s a two-way street. You need to give support too and be a valuable ally in return. 

6) Keep On Being Awesome

Keep showing up as the rockstar worker you are, no matter how disillusioned you feel or how badly you feel like quitting.

This is absolutely crucial if your boss feels threatened by you. They want you to stay under the radar and stop being an asset so don’t give them what they want.

A resilient mindset is key too.

Don’t focus on your relationship with your boss to the extent that it affects your performance. It’s a shitty situation but it doesn’t have to hold you back.

Keep looking for ways to show how much of an asset you are to others in the organization. The new relationships you’re building can help strengthen your credibility and personal brand. It might even open doors to a career move.

Stay Focused And It WILL Get Better

Being shut out by your boss can be frustrating as fuck and can have a devastating effect on your performance.

It’s impossible to get in the zone and do your job when you’re out of the loop on meetings and not given information that’s vital for your projects.

As impossible as it may feel, you can make the situation better.

But first, you need to be truly honest with yourself about whether you might have triggered the situation. If not, a private meeting with your boss might shed some light on what’s behind their behavior.

If your boss is still a total jerk and doesn’t give a shit despite your best efforts to salvage the situation, outside support from HR and your allies can help you continue to shine.

And when you’re able to clear things up, curveballs like Andy’s decision on your project won’t take you by surprise. You’ll see it coming from a mile away.

You’re still a star no matter what’s happening to you now and even a shitty boss can’t stop you from shining brighter.

Feel Better,

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