Licensee Badge
Submitted by ablore on


Hello everyone,

Any tips on working with a boss who just doesn't seem to care? He'll be in charge of my performance appraisal and I want to make sure I don't get hurt because he's not as involved. He's 9 months away from retiring, I barely see him in the office and I might talk to him for 20 seconds a week (hey how's it going?). I've attempted multiple times at this point to get goals from my boss, feedback, or really anything and I've not gotten much except "just keep doing what you're doing."

More detail:

In addition to my normal daily tasks, His boss (my skip boss), works with me weekly on major projects. He's skipping my boss and coming to me directly for a lot of activity. This is great and I'm getting goals and feedback from my skip boss. I have been in this role for about four months and this situation has been frequent throughout (weekly).

Last week, my boss came to me with a fairly minor project and a comment was made that made me question my sanity: After assigning me the project my boss said something along the lines of "isn't it good to finally be contributing?" Umm, I have been contributing on major projects with your boss... My real response was something like "yeah." To be honest, I wasn't concerned until this comment was made

On paper, my boss is my supervisor and responsible for my performance report. My skip boss will review the report but not officially provide comments, his boss will however (performance report will have my boss and my skip skip boss). 

I'm actively reviewing all guidance and podcasts related to bosses but my specific question is: Any tips on navigating this? How do I make sure the person responsible for my annual review is fully aware of all that I'm accomplishing? Is it as simple as trying to do a weekly update (re:boss one on ones - professional updates cast)? Thanks in advance

H Cleall's picture
Licensee Badge


That’s quite a tricky situation you have. While my situation isn’t quite so bad I have had a similar experience.


My starting point was to think about what a good line manager would want from me as a direct. Essentially that I’m achieving my objectives and doing it in a way that adds value i.e. actions and behaviours or what you do and how you do it.


Then I checked my objectives (which I wrote using MT and CT podcast content). They were ‘smart’ and I could talk to how they support the company’s strategic objectives and goals. My line manager agreed them without comment.


Then I looked at my company’s value statement and behaviours and thought about how to deliver the objectives while meeting those and how I would demonstrate this.


Then I thought about all the stakeholders I engaged with and how I engaged,  and the ‘extra’ stuff I do that isn’t part of my objectives but that we all do.


Then I asked for regular 1:1s (which I got agreement to bi-weekly). This is what it now looks like:


On Friday afternoon I review my week’s work and note what I’ve achieved against my objectives. Then add anything I’ve done over and above by objectives. Then look for evidence of how I’ve done it (a simple thank you e-mail for example or how I took the initiative and collaborated with someone will do).


Then I look at what I didn’t achieve and why and figure out when and how I will do it.


Then I collate this into the top 3 achievements, top 3 priorities, what I believe I did particularly well and what I would like to improve on. I add an appendix of all the high level activities and deadlines that are on my list so he can see what else I’m involved in e.g. develop social media training by x date, analyse regulatory customer disclosure rules by x date etc.


I send this final document to my line manager ahead of my 1:1. Then I walk him through it in the 1:1 and ask if he has any questions, feedback for me, additional areas of focus and if he agrees with my assessment and priorities. Invariably there is little said other than agreement but if I do get anything back I make a note and maybe ask for clarification if I’m unsure of what is being said or asked of me.


Each month I update my appraisal using the 1:1 notes (its a standing joke now that I can demonstrate achievement/areas of failure/underachievement of every objective and company value which makes me a little sad as my line manager has confessed he doesn’t even read it anymore).


Key is that I manage myself and evidence my performance so if his line manager (skip) ever asks, or my line manager changes mid-year, or any one questions what I’m doing and why, I can provide a comprehensive report.


If I were in your situation I would also capture the work you are doing for your skip boss in the same way so you have an holistic view of what you are doing and how i.e. contribution to the company and why they should continue to employ you (this at the end of the day is what its all about).


As for his comment, it’s difficult to opine as tone, manner etc all have a bearing. Honestly - I would let it wash over you. He leaves in 9 months time. 


It sounds as if your appraisal will be conducted before he retires. If you’ve already had 1:1s and you have all your documentation in order, the final piece is the appraisal discussion. This too should be documented. Since your skip and your skip’s skip will see your appraisal documentation the process is transparent and they will read what you have achieved over the last 12 months.


Above all, continue to be professional with your current line manager and those you work with and for, and work on those relationships that are going to matter after he retires. I always remember I am in charge of my own destiny to an extent - as Mark’s umbrella story says , he poked you with an umbrella, you got upset all by yourself’!

ablore's picture
Licensee Badge

Hey, I just wanted to update this post since it has been a year since I originally posted. 

Bottomline: I followed as much of the advice here as I could and my performance appraisal turned out better than I could have hoped. 

To keep the update short, the only piece of advice posted above I was not able to achieve was any kind of 1:1 whatsoever. For the duration of my time with this manager, I only ever received 2-5 minute interactions maybe once a week, never more than that. I took to heart the advice to maintain professionalism and getting upset all by myself

As far as the concern over the performance review: one month before it was due, I got a new boss to replace this 'no-care boss' and he of course was charged with making up all the lost time and ultimately writing my review. I had everything prepared per the instructions above and the podcasts and was able to update him on everything immediately. Some of my co-workers faced some "wrath" as they were not prepared. It is my perception that they were working only to the standard of the previous boss. I believe that my preparedness separated me from the crowd when it came time for the performance review.

Yet again, I am thankful for these podcasts and thankful for the community. Time and time again I have implemented the advice and guidance and I'm always surprised by both how simple it is and how effective. Thanks for everything!


H Cleall's picture
Licensee Badge

Thank you for letting us know how you got on. I'm really pleased for you. And I wish you every succes with your new boss.