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Question:

I have a new Director and I have been trying to build a rapport with them (I am their admin support). It’s proving to be much more difficult than I ever expected. Sometimes my Director won’t talk to me at all – all day. They rarely even say good morning. With this silence comes ahuge lack of communication. It’s making it very hard, sometimes next to impossible, for me to domy job or answer questions because I am completely unaware of many things. Like when theyplan to take vacation.
How do I approach this conversation with my Director? I don’t want to attack them. I don’t want to put them on the defensive either. I just want them to hear what I am saying and hopefully change for the better.

Please help!

Sincerely,
Frustrated

Answer:

Dear Frustrated,

It can definitely be hard when any office changes happen especially when it is in management.One thing I noticed in your letter is that I feel you are taking the manager’s lack ofcommunication personally, and that is the first issue. Even though your manager is not talking to you much, that does not necessarily mean they are upset or ignoring you. They may just beassuming that you do not need direction and are doing a great job. Sometimes no news is goodnews, but then our internal chatter starts and we turn it into a negative. As for their not sayinggood morning, it may be that they’re not a morning person.

I feel that when communicating with your Director, you should use “I” statements. This way they will not feel you are “attacking” them. You may want to try something like this:

First approach your Director face-to-face or by email asking for a meeting. “Hi _______, I wasjust wondering if we could schedule a meeting to go over a few items that I need clarification on.When would be good for you?”

Then when the meeting happens, approach it like this:

  • Make a list of questions you need answers to.
  • Approach your manager in a friendly manner, using “I” statements.
  • Start it off with “I was just wondering if I could get clarification on a few things….”, thenopen up about items you need clarification on.
  • For the holidays try, “I was just wondering when you are planning on taking your vacation. As your admin officer I will need to notify other staff and add it to calendar.”This way you are enquiring in a friendly non threatening way.

I would also suggest that you and your manager establish a set meeting date – biweekly ormonthly – to talk over tasks, priorities etc. which would make it easier for office communicationand planning. This can be done via a friendly email with the Director.

What you have to remember is that they may possibly be feeling overwhelmed, taking on a newposition. Try not to take things personally and stick to “the facts”. Remember not to take thingspersonally while at the office – it is business and right now you are working with a Director whois not a verbal person, which can be hard if you are.

Hope this helps,
Jackie Lee

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