What To Do When Your Boss Isn’t Giving You What You Need To Succeed

by Angela Ellis


I recently read an article on the importance of being a supportive boss. Having a supportive boss can transform your workplace experience. It can make a difference in productivity as well as engagement. When you are engaged you have a sense of belonging, connection, and value in your organization. I have had neglectful bosses who ignored me and kept secrets. I have also had bosses who were quite friendly and kind, but didn’t handle managerial responsibilities like performance issues, clear goals, and distribution of work. Neither of these is an ideal type of manager to have. Nevertheless, it’s possible to have an engaged, productive, and satisfying work experience without a supportive boss. If you find yourself in a situation where the boss doesn’t give the direction and support you need, is inconsistent, or even non-responsive, here are some things you can do to manage yourself.

Find a mentor.

A mentor will be a good sounding board and source of advice. This should be someone who doesn’t have a stake in your career (like your boss does). They should be in a level higher than you in your organization or another organization. This is a person with whom you can be candid and who in return will be candid with you. A mentor can provide valuable advice, recommendations and resources. Your mentor could help you learn how to best navigate a tumultuous environment and share their experience which you can leverage.

Leverage peers and colleague relationships. 

You should have at least one close relationship within your organization. This should be an experienced, trustworthy individual with whom you can discuss your concerns. Because they have institution knowledge, they’ll have a good understanding of the organization and be able to give you relevant perspective. When you are trying to figure out how to resolve a conflict or solve a problem, this colleague could be a valuable resource. When you’re seeking that promotion, your peer might be able to share valuable insights and/or warnings. If nothing else your colleagues in the workplace can be a good sounding board when you need to vent.

Join the club.

In most fields, there are industry-specific associations you can join. In these organizations you have the opportunity to build relationships with others who do the same kind of what you do. They may have already navigated through some of the situations you are experiencing. Since these association members come from different companies, they can provide varied perspectives. This kind of connection could also help keep you abreast of best practices, trends, and other pertinent developments in your field.

Get started.

If you don’t already have a mentor or trusted peer, start setting coffee and lunch meeting once a month. Eventually you will find someone with whom you connect and feel comfortable. Don’t let an unsupportive boss be your excuse for not achieving your career goals. No one should be more invested in your success than you are.

 IAAP works with the best trainers in the industry to ensure you have relevant, engaging, practical content at your fingertips. This blog is written by a speaker with a program in the IAAP Approved Programs database. Search by name or keyword to find their contact information and book them for your Branch or Region event. 

If you’d like to attend one of these events, you can find one in your area here.

Angela Ellis is a coach and development consultant at Enhance Business Solutions.

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2 thoughts on “What To Do When Your Boss Isn’t Giving You What You Need To Succeed

  1. This was a wonderful article. I have found myself, in years past, on both sides. One having a non-supportive boss as well as being an advocate or peer to someone else. Seeking someone else outside of the department as a sounding board certainly help me with perspective and making wise decision and not being in my feelings. It allowed me to strategize so that I could continue to grow and stay focus. This approach helped me be successful and now I’m able to share my experience and tools with others who find themselves in the same manner. Thank you for sharing!


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