Doesn't Listen, Won't Respect Workers
Your boss never listens to you, or to anyone else. He or she has no respect for you and your co-workers, never shares credit, and is always looking for someone to blame when things go wrong.
Unsurprisingly, social science research shows that people in positions of authority typically don’t take advice from subordinates, or even from experts. It’s a pain to work with someone who’s unpleasant – and when the person who is supposed to be in charge won’t listen to anyone, serious problems can result. Your team might start missing deadlines and production schedules. Or a safety hazard or legal liability could go ignored, exposing your organization to significant risk.
How to handle a boss who won’t listen:
- Have realistic expectations: It’s not your boss’s job to be your friend or to make you feel important. Smart bosses realize that an organization will get better results when everybody feels like part of the team and has a chance to contribute – but not all bosses are savvy.
- What’s your boss’s agenda? You don’t have to be a suck-up to realize that your boss has to listen to his or her bosses before listening to anyone else. Even the boss who always ignores you might start to pay attention if you’ve got an idea that can help him or her look good to those higher up on the food chain.
- What are you trying to communicate? If your boss ignores an invitation to join the NCAA pool or an office potluck, too bad for him or her: he or she will miss out on the fun. But if the boss won’t listen when a customer isn’t going to get a product on time or there’s a safety hazard that isn’t getting fixed, you’ve got a real problem.
- Talk to your co-workers: Is the boss just ignoring you, or is he or she tuning out everyone? If it’s just you, you may want to sit down with your boss and a third party (your boss’s boss, perhaps?) to discuss how to improve communication. If everyone is getting ignored, maybe it’s time for a meeting with your whole department, so your boss can hear from everyone just how bad the problem is. When addressing just about any problem concerning working conditions, private-sector workers have some protections under U.S. labor law when acting together, which is not the case if you try to tackle the situation on your own.
- Appeal to a higher authority: If your boss won’t listen to feedback about organizational issues, like missed deadlines or messed-up production schedules, then you should probably take the issue to his or her superiors within your workplace, or use your company’s complaint or grievance system. This intensive care nurse, for example, got her boss’s attention by sending a report about inadequate equipment “straight to corporate.”
But if you’re dealing with an issue that affects the well-being of you and your co-workers, such as harassment, discrimination or safety hazards that have been reported to your boss but ignored, you may need to contact the appropriate government agency to file a complaint.