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Published Sunday September 29th, 2013

THE QUESTION

Six months ago, I moved to a different department in my company. Three months ago, I was moved to a team that has significantly fewer responsibilities, which does not allow me to use any of the skills that I thought were why I was recruited by this department. Since the assignment wasn’t permanent, and not wanting to complain, I didn’t ask about the rationale behind the decision.

In my former department, if I had a day off, meeting or appointment I notified my immediate supervisor. Now I have been told – angrily – that I should be telling someone higher up because “everyone knows” my current supervisor doesn’t talk to anyone.

Apparently, when I am not there, my supervisor doesn’t work until someone asks why, to which he replies that he can’t because I’m not there.

I had no idea that this was happening. I had not received any feedback about my performance until this angry lecture. There could be other things that I’m doing wrong that no one is telling me about.

I am a contract employee and I’m afraid I’ll be laid off. How can I repair my reputation and working relationships? Is there a way I can ensure that I get more timely (and hopefully less angry) feedback?

THE ANSWER

Billy Anderson

Founder, Made You Think Coaching, Toronto

Let’s start with the facts: You don’t feel able to use your skills, you don’t want to be perceived as a complainer, you’re concerned about your job and you’re confused about who to go to for honest feedback.

Begin by talking to Angry Person. Don’t point the finger, just say you appreciated the feedback, it seems procedures are different here and you would like help understanding it better so you can add as much value as possible. An apology can go a long way: “It wasn’t my intention to cause a problem, so I’m sorry if I did.”

You should also talk to your immediate supervisor so you haven’t gone over anyone’s head. Simply ask for advice. You could bring up the time-away-from-work issue as one of many topics to draw less attention to it.

Next, start getting feedback on your performance. It’s harder to be let go with a positive performance review under your belt. Ask your supervisor or HR about performance reviews.

Be patient. Giving feedback is a skill that should be taught to managers; unfortunately, it is not.

Are you facing a burning issue at work? Need help navigating that minefield? Let our Nine To Five experts help solve your dilemma. E-mail your questions to ninetofive@globeandmail.com. Confidentiality ensured. Weigh in with your view at tgam.ca/careers. Check out past columns here.

Original article can be found here.