The Silent Boss

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The boss-employee relationship is considered a key determinant of an organization’s retention rate. In fact, in light of this realization, organizations have been analyzing the way in which their managers, executives and C-level executives perform on-the-job—especially with their direct reports. When it comes to the boss-employee relationship, there are different types of relationships one may have with his or her boss. Let’s look at one of the worst types of bosses: the silent boss.


You know the type—the boss that almost never says anything. This boss pretty much locks himself or herself in his or her office until a likely problem occurs every three to five months—if he or she is lucky. Direct reports of such bosses only see him or her in passing or during mandatory meetings. In addition, most direct reports of the silent boss may never know what he or she wants from them. It may not necessarily be due to his or her personality type, but more so because he or she is extremely busy and has no time to communicate or offer feedback to his or her direct reports. Nevertheless, when it does comes time to deal with his or her employees, the silent boss tends to lack good verbal communication skills—possibly due to being quarantined to one’s office and communicating virtually for much of the day.


If you are dealing with a silent boss, you have the right as an employee to take the initiative and ask for feedback about your performance, details concerning project deadlines and performance plans—including goals, steps and the way in which he or she expects you to perform them. Although it may be difficult for you to muster the strength to approach your silent boss—being it is usually difficult to approach him or her because responsibilities and piles of work are always distracting him or her—you need to figure out the best way to get in touch with your boss initially. In the case of a silent boss, it is often best to meet with him or her on his or her terms. For example, dropping your boss an e-mail requesting a one-on-one meeting with him or her may be the best approach. That way, you know that he or she will actually set time aside for you.

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