That's because the boss who barely acknowledges your presence is less likely to give you promotions, new projects — or even a pay raise. And the inattentive boss can hurt your career in the long run as you're unable to gain the skills and new opportunities you need to remain valuable in the job marketplace.
So, what's the solution?
"You need basic things in your work life to succeed, such as clear expectations and parameters. If not, you're more likely to go in the wrong direction," says Tulgan, founder ofRainmaker Thinking and author of It's Okay to Manage Your Boss (Jossey-Bass, $23.95). "A boss should take responsibility for making sure you have what you need, but if not, then you need to take care of it yourself."
The thought of managing a boss may seem intimidating, frightening — or even ludicrous — to some workers. But Tulgan says it's not that difficult, especially if the alternatives are considered.
"If you don't have a regular dialogue with a boss, then almost always by default (the boss) will manage you when things are going wrong, meaning it's a bad-news dialogue," he says. "Problems have gotten out of control, you're going in the wrong direction — and it's weeks before you know it."
He notes that "what separates the high performers from the low performers is that high performers make sure they're engaging the boss."
If you have a boss that has a leave-me-alone-and-figure-it-out-on-your-own attitude, then it's time to put some steps in place to better manage the relationship. Tulgan suggests workers should:
• Corner the boss. Sometimes you have to be a bit sneaky to track down a boss for some one-on-one time, so it may take a bit of homework such as observing patterns of behavior or schedules to find the best time to talk to the boss.
These conversations shouldn't be long and rambling. In fact, the boss will probably appreciate a written agenda of items from you, clearly outlining the areas where you need input, such as work, performance feedback and available resources to get your job done.
• Value human interaction. If you work remotely, don't just depend on e-mail to interact with your boss. It's important to meet face to face when possible and use scheduled phone conversations to better communicate.
Group meetings don't count — you need time alone with the boss.
• Be thorough. One of the most important parts of managing a boss is making sure you're on the same page. That means you should write down everything you and the boss agree on and further keep notes on your progress, future plans and how you're completing the work.
This written track record is key when a boss doesn't keep his or her own records of your progress, Tulgan says.
Sometimes — despite all your efforts — a boss refuses to engage. In that case, Tulgan says, it may be time to go "boss shopping."
"If you've got a boss in name only, you may want to find someone else to be your boss. You can deputize the boss' boss, or the boss' lieutenant. You start bringing this person into the loop regarding what you're doing in your job," Tulgan says.
Another advantage of finding a boss that is willing to be more involved in your career is the message it sends about your commitment, he says.
"Other people will notice that you're a self-starting high performer who has a reputation of getting things done — and they'll want you working for them," Tulgan says.
Do you think such a strategy is viable -- that any worker could use it? What other suggestions do you have?