How to deal with an unsupportive boss who’s always busy

What should you do if you are new to a role but rather than getting the managerial support you need, your manager keeps cancelling your 1:1s, or making changes to your project assignments? 

Well, first up, to provide some reassurance: if you’re new to a role it’s reasonable to want some time with your manager to check in and make sure you’re doing things right. It’s about finding a way to get them to show up. 

To handle the situation, when you can get some time with them, you may need to make it clear what you want and need.

Explain that you need more support to do a good job, but that it isn’t a long-term thing. You’re new to the role and there are gaps in your knowledge. As soon as you can get up to speed – which you need their help with – you will need less from them. Ask them if there are others you can also call on if they’re not available to provide the support.

  1. Gently tell them that you’re going to check in with them, before meetings, to make sure they’re going to be attending. You don’t want to be wasting the working day travelling to and from the office if there’s no need to be doing so.
  2. Explain that it’s difficult to make sense of your role when things keep changing last minute. Ask for an explanation each time you are put on a project or a meeting is cancelled. If you’re not clear on the answer, ask for more detail and context. 
  3. And hold on to the belief that you are not being unreasonable. A key element of having a new staff member is helping them to settle in. If a manager isn’t doing this, they’re failing as a manager. 


Three resources to help:

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