Hi Jo,

Yesterday, my team held a meeting to discuss a campaign that I’m managing without inviting me. Nothing seems to have changed as a result of that meeting, though I can’t help but feel uneasy. Surely my input would have been valuable? I haven’t heard any complaints about my work, so I’m not sure how to interpret this.

How do I make sense of what’s happened? How can I address this in a professional manner?

Thanks,
Frozen Out Franki.

 

Franki, it’s only natural that you’re concerned. Having experienced a similar situation, I know how easy it is to think the worst when you’re not in the loop. At this stage, try not to make assumptions about your team’s intentions; we all make mistakes, and this being your project, they could’ve assumed you were invited.

Test the waters first by speaking to someone from that meeting who you trust. Be direct, but innocuous; ask what the meeting was about and if there’s anything you can help with. If they ask for your input or acknowledge that someone forgot to include you, you’re probably safe to let it go. Otherwise, look out for patterns of exclusion and questionable odd behavior.

Is your boss talking to your direct reports rather than you? Did the last weekly marketing meeting happen without you? Are other campaigns or budgets moving forward without your involvement? Write down all your concerns—if the list is getting big, it’s probably time to have a chat with your boss.

Even if you have a great relationship, this can be an uncomfortable conversation to have. We all want to do well at work, so criticism can sting to hear, but it’s also a test of character. The way you deal with this can show your boss and team that despite the issue at hand, you’re someone they trust. Here’s how I recommend you approach this:

  • Keep it casual when you approach your boss; tell them there are a few things you’d like to talk about, but frame the conversation as a catch-up call or a coffee offsite to avoid extra tension.
  • Write down all the key points you want to make; performance review-like situations can be difficult to handle unless you’re prepared.
  • Acknowledge what they say, but ask for specific examples that you can reflect on. Sleeping on it brings more clarity than you have in the heat of the moment.
  • Know the cues of your temper—you’re no less “professional” for crying or showing emotion, but if you’re really wound up, excuse yourself and return to the conversation when you’re calm.
  • Thinking overnight about what you discussed? Write down any points you agree on, disagree with, or would like more clarification or help with—keeping the conversation going shows you’re taking that feedback on board.
  • Offer compromise; if something’s gone wrong that you’re responsible for, make it known that you’re willing to work with the team to find a solution.
  • Talk with the people you work with more often; if you don’t already have them, schedule regular meetings with your boss, counterpart, and other relevant stakeholders. These conversations are good opportunities to resolve any issues before they escalate.Ultimately, it’s hard to rectify issues at work when you’re not aware of them. If there is a problem to discuss after all, show you’re receptive to feedback and ready to resolve it. Sincerity goes a long way.You’ve got this,
    Jo Pulse.

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