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3 Things Your Manager Hasn’t Told You That You Need to Hear

Career Advice |

Keeping the lines of communication open with your manager is an essential tool to manage that relationship. However, just because the lines are open on your end doesn’t mean they’re always open on your manager’s end.

Here are three things your manager is probably thinking but, for whatever reason, hasn’t told you. They may be difficult to hear, but they’re going to make your life at work a whole lot easier.

1. “I can tell when you’re not listening to me.”

You may think your habit of daydreaming while your manager talks is pretty inconspicuous, but trust me, she knows when you’re not 100 percent present. In a previous job, when I was still really new to the workforce, my manager at the time had a habit of hashing out her thoughts out loud. During one of our meetings she was going over an item I thought didn’t really have much to do with me, and I started thinking about something else (probably lunch). She paused and gave me a searching look.

“I don’t know if you realize, but your eyes tend to glaze over when you’re not listening,” she said.

I’m lucky it was just the two of us meeting or I would have been even more mortified than I was already. But I learned a valuable lesson that day: Your boss can tell when you’re not paying attention. Even if you think she can’t tell, she totally can. And if you want to prove you deserve more responsibility at work, force yourself to pay attention to and get involved with other responsibilities at work. Actively listen and offer your insight, even if they’re things that don’t have anything to do with you right now. They might in the future.

2. “There’s a reason I micromanage you.”

If you find that phantom changes to your work are happening overnight, chances are pretty high that it might not be an accident, and even higher that it might be making you unhappy.

“It’s hard to feel trusted and valued when your work is being constantly scrutinized and your boss is checking up on things that you don’t think they need to check on,” writes Alison Green of the management blog “Ask a Manager.”

But think back to any instance in which you may have given your manager, either intentionally or unintentionally, a reason not to trust you. Have you turned in assignments late? Have you made careless spelling errors in emails? Has your math in a company report been off? Make a list of things you may want to improve or do better, and actively show your boss that you’re doing nothing short of spectacular work, and hopefully she’ll back off. If she doesn’t, ask to speak with her about the quality of your work and if there’s anything she would recommend you do differently. She’ll probably ease off just because you asked!

3. “Your co-worker is making more money than you because you didn’t ask.”

Ouch. This could be the toughest one to digest if word ever gets out to you. It’s likely your manager will never tell you this, but she does know, and there are ways you could have known too. A co-worker at a former job once confided in me what her salary was, saying that that’s the starting salary for her position. What she didn’t know was that the average salary for her position was about $3,000 more than she was making—and that this was information she could have found on sites like Glassdoor or PayScale.

And $3,000 dollars a year adds up over time. Not only that, but if and when she goes to ask for a raise, she may have less of a springboard to jump from than her co-worker who’s already earning more. The good news is that you don’t have to wait to ask for more; make an appointment to speak with your manager and lay it all on the line as to why you deserve a raise. Chances are she’ll respect you more for valuing what you’re worth, and trust me, you’re worth a lot.

What’s something you think your manager isn’t telling you that you should know? Tell us in the comments!

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Great advice on the topic of the micro-manager.


I guess that fact that I am not micromanaged is a good sign. Sometimes you have distinguish whether it is the person nature or if the fault does lie with you. I'd rather the boss tell me about my mistakes up front, then watch me all the time.


I liked the third comment about salary. Its intimidating to have to justify your value but its never going to get addressed unless its made an issue. I think its more important for a woman to make it a bigger issue because there's still a pay difference between genders and i have personally witnessed it.


I just had a meeting with an MD at a consulting firm who recently took on the role of Comptroller - so she now has access to everyone's salary. She described the "pit in her stomach" when she discovered that a couple of her colleagues, some of whom had less experience that she, were making almost twice as much. The reason - they ASKED.


I had this same experience in one of my former jobs - I realized that a male colleague who was literally on the same project as I was + performing the same duties was making more than me because he asked for it. You don't get what you deserve - you get what you ask for 100%.


I really needed to hear number two on a day like today. There are reasons managers and supervisors micromanage. It may be due to a previous employee who proved themselves to be less than the expectation, or the fact that you have not proven yourself to the standards of your manager.

I've realized, through this article, that micromanagement is a two-way street.


Love the last bit about salary but I think it also applies whenever we want to step-up or learn new skills/things. It's one of the things I had to learn: if I don't ask, I won't get.

Elana Gross

Fantastic article Melissa! Absolutely fantastic! These tips are so helpful!


There is no worse feeling than being micromanaged! I understand why some bosses do it, but I also think you need to address the issue head on and then show how great you are at your job.


Great article. I think it is really important to provide excellence first and then ask for monetary compensation later. What would your advice be for an employee who is uncertain of their "value" and subsequent reluctance to ask for more money?


On that note, what is a good amount of time to prove excellence and then ask for a raise?


I also believe that managers don't want to hear your excuses if something goes wrong. They want to hear that you admit to the mistake and how you are going to prevent it in the future.


Agree with you on this Giordana. I think mistakes can be forgiven as long as they know you're doing all the best to right it.


I enjoyed this advice Melissa. However can you be as direct to your manager about him/her not paying attention to YOU?

I always catch my managers eyes glazing over, how would you deal?


Hmm, good question, Kaitlyn! If it were to happen to me (if it has, I haven't noticed), I would probably finish my thought and then ask, "What do you think?" If they seem not to have gotten the point I'd double back and repeat what I said but in a different way, without drawing attention to the fact that I suspect they hadn't been listening.

Carly Heitlinger

The third tip is great!!! It's so important, for women especially, to remember that no one is just going to GIVE you more money... you really do have to ask for it!


Awesome article. I love the part about being present when your manager is speaking. I know that it can be easy to space off during conversations that you feel aren't relevant but it's best to be engaged and in the moment!

Melissa Stanger

Melissa Stanger is the Associate Editor at Levo League. She has written for Business Insider, Verizon, Faster Times Media, Your Coffee Break, AmEx Open Forum, and Honey & Nonno. She is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College who loves impeccable grammar and is on a noble quest for the best chai latte in New York. Follow her on Twitter @melissahstanger, or on her blog