Why are you ignoring me?

One of the toughest jobs in an organization is that of a front-line supervisor. In this position, they get hit from both directions – from those who directly report to them and from those that they report to. Often, they have less authority to make decisions and more overall constraints. Instead, they are given directives on what should or should not be done and are expected to carry out the directive without question. Recently, we’ve had several front-line supervisors share with us that they are frustrated and feel like their suggestions, recommendations, and opinions are dismissed, ignored, or not taken into consideration.

Are you a front-line supervisor with some of those same frustrations? Here are some tips on how to handle it if it’s happening to you:

  1. Be aware of when you are making suggestions or sharing your ideas. Don’t pick a time when your boss is stressed, frustrated, or trying to multi-task. Schedule a meeting time that makes sense for both you and your manager, and make sure it’s a time when he/she can give you their full attention.
  2. Have a plan. Have an agenda for the meeting, come prepared, and research your idea or suggestion. Make sure you truly understand that full impact of your suggestion. How does it affect other departments? How does it affect your service or product? How does it affect your efficiency and quality?
  3. Make sure you have thought about your idea from different perspectives. Ask other co-workers or your team about their thoughts. Weigh all possibilities.
  4. Speak your manager’s language. Know what your manager’s priorities and goals are. Use language that helps him or her understand and make the connection about how your idea will help achieve that priority or goal.
  5. Ask questions. If you don’t understand the decisions that are made or why ask good questions. “Help me understand this process better. What is the outcome we are hoping to achieve? What is our end goal with this initiative?” It’s possible that there is information that you are not aware of that is being used to make decisions. Take ownership for understanding that information and why your manager has a different perspective than you.
  6. Control your emotions. Think about your approach prior to the meeting and how you might respond to the conversation. Becoming defensive or aggressive will not help your cause. Stay level-headed and open to hearing your manager’s ideas as well.
  7. Share your idea more than once. Sometimes we need to hear things more than once for it to really resonate with us. Don’t give up after the first time. Take the information you learned when you asked questions to adjust your idea or suggestion for a future conversation.

One of the most important things to remember is that even though it may feel like it, you really aren’t being ignored. Even those you elevate your ideas to have someone else they need to run it by. Sometimes it takes time to figure out the logistics or how to fully implement something without negatively impacting someone else. And other times, there is information you aren’t aware of. Ask questions, continue making suggestions, and check-in with your manager…You’d be surprised at what a little communication can do!

Do your supervisors need help? Read this!