Office politics can be a minefield of overt and subtle aggressions, grudges, and misconceptions. It’s hard enough when the bad feelings are out in the open, but exponentially more difficult when you aren’t quite sure what’s going on.
Psychologist Art Markman helps a reader figure out how to handle coworkers who keep her out of the loop.
I think my coworkers are leaving me out of important emails and meetings to sabotage me–but I’m not sure it’s intentional. I’ll hear them reference something and ask what they are talking about, and they’ll say, “Oh, you weren’t on that email chain?” At which point they will forward it to me, but by then I’m late to the discussion.
Other times I’ll see a group headed to a meeting and ask where they are going, and they’ll say what the meeting is about and I’ll drop everything to join, but many times I only find out after the fact that I’ve been left out. I’ve told them many times that I need to be included, but it continues.
What should I do?
Out of the Loop
Dear Out of the Loop:
This sounds like a frustrating situation. You need to find a way to resolve the problem as quickly as possible.
I should say up front that in this era of large group emails, it is common for people to be inadvertently left off important emails. I am involved with a group of about 20 people right now, and when a new thread gets started, there are invariably a few people missing. So, it is possible that this is not being done purposefully.
Still, you are missing out on important information and critical meetings, and that needs to be changed. There are two things you can do to help correct the problem.
First, talk with your supervisor and make it clear that you have been left off some important email communications that has resulted in you not getting input on important issues, and missing meetings that you felt you should have attended. There are two reasons for this meeting. You want to ensure that you get the information you need to do your job, and you want to make sure your supervisor can put systems in place to make sure key people are not being left off important communications–even inadvertently.
Second, if there are groups that frequently have to communicate together to work on projects, talk with your IT staff about whether they can help you create email aliases that include all of the group members. In the Human Dimensions of Organizations program that I run at the University of Texas, we have several groups of faculty and external advisers that we often have to invite to meetings or give news to about upcoming events. We have used group email aliases to help us ensure that all communications are sent to everyone who should be getting them.
Ultimately, you can’t do your job without getting timely information about what is happening. A talk with your supervisor should take care of the problem. If it doesn’t, it might be worth looking for a job at an organization that does a more effective job of supporting communication among their employees.
If you have a dilemma you’d like our panel of experts to answer, send your questions to AskFC@fastcompany.com or tweet us a question using #AskFC.