If your boss says this, it’s a sign they probably underestimate you

Feedback is the key to success on any job, but some comments or responses may be warning signs of potential problems.

Sometimes, the issue is a micromanaging boss. In fact, 59% of respondents in an Accountemps survey admitted to working for a micromanager at least once. If your boss uses the statements listed below, pay attention because there may be issues (real or perceived) with your work performance or attitude.

RELATED: 28 brilliant questions to ask during a job interview

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28 brilliant questions to ask during a job interview
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28 brilliant questions to ask during a job interview

Hoover recommends this question because it's a quick way to figure out whether your skills align with what the company is currently looking for. If they don't match up, then you know to walk away instead of wasting time pursuing the wrong position for yourself, she says. 

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It's important to ask about the pecking order of a company in case you have several bosses, Vicky Oliver writes in her book, "301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions."

If you're going to be working for several people, you need to know "the lay of the internal land," she says, or if you're going to be over several people, then you probably want to get to know them before accepting the position.  

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Basically, this question just lets you know whether this job is a dead end or a stepping-stone. 

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Hoover says this question gives you a broad view on the corporate philosophy of a company and on whether it prioritizes employee happiness. 

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This question is not for the faint of heart, but it shows that you are already thinking about how you can help the company rise to meet some of its bigger goals, says Peter Harrison, CEO of Snagajob.

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Knowing what skills the company thinks are important will give you more insight into its culture and its management values, Hoover says, so you can evaluate whether you would fit in. 

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While this question puts you in a vulnerable position, it shows that you are confident enough to openly bring up and discuss your weaknesses with your potential employer. 

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Hoover says this question is important because it lets you "create a sense of camaraderie" with the interviewer because "interviewers — like anyone — usually like to talk about themselves and especially things they know well." Plus, this question gives you a chance to get an insider's view on the best parts about working for this particular company, she says. 

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Knowing how managers use their employees is important so you can decide whether they are the type of boss that will let you use your strengths to help the company succeed. 

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"Any opportunity to learn the timeline for a hire is crucial information for you," Hoover advises.

Asking about an "offer" rather than a "decision" will give you a better sense of the timeline because "decision" is a broad term, while an "offer" refers to the point when they're ready to hand over the contract.

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Harrison says this is a respectful way to ask about shortcomings within the company — which you should definitely be aware of before joining a company. As a bonus, he says it shows that you are being proactive in wanting to understand more about the internal workings of the company before joining it. 

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If the interviewer says, "There aren't any," you should proceed with caution. 

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The main point of this question is to get your interviewer to reveal how the company measures success. 

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Obviously this shows your eagerness about the position, Harrison says, but it also gives you a better idea about what the job will be like on a daily basis so you can decide whether you really want to pursue it. "A frank conversation about position expectations and responsibilities will ensure not only that this is a job you want, but also one that you have the skills to be successful in," he advises. 

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This question shows the interviewer that you care about your future at the company, and it will also help you decide if you're a good fit for the position, Oliver writes. "Once the interviewer tells you what she's looking for in a candidate, picture that person in your mind's eye," she says. "She or he should look a lot like you. 

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Hoover says knowing if they want you to meet with potential coworkers or not will give you insight into how much the company values building team synergy. In addition, if the interviewer says you have four more interviews to go, then you've gained a better sense of the hiring timeline as well, she says. 

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Harrison says this question shows that you're willing to work hard to ensure that you grow along with your company. This is particularly important for hourly workers, he says, because they typically have a higher turnover rate, and are thus always looking for people who are thinking long-term. 

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Knowing how a company deals with conflicts gives you a clearer picture about the company's culture, Harrison says. But more importantly, asking about conflict resolution shows that you know dealing with disagreements in a professional manner is essential to the company's growth and success. 

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Getting the chance to meet with potential teammates or managers is essential to any professional interview process, Hoover says. If they don't give that chance, "proceed with caution," she advises. 

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Knowing how a company measures its employees' success is important. It will help you understand what it would take to advance in your career there — and can help you decide if the employer's values align with your own. 

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Asking about problems within a company gets the "conversation ball" rolling, and your interviewer will surely have an opinion, Oliver writes. Further, she says their answers will give you insights into their personality and ambitions and will likely lead to other questions. 

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This one tells them you're interested in the role and eager to hear their decision.

"Knowing a company's timeline should be your ultimate goal during an interview process after determining your fit for the position and whether you like the company's culture," Hoover says. It will help you determine how and when to follow up, and how long to wait before "moving on." 

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This might be uncomfortable to ask, but Harrison says it's not uncommon to ask and that it shows you are being smart and analytical by wanting to know why someone may have been unhappy in this role previously.

If you found out they left the role because they were promoted, that's also useful information. 

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Asking this question will show your interviewer that you can think big picture, that you're wanting to stay with the company long-term, and that you want to make a lasting impression in whatever company you end up in, says Harrison. 

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Oliver says questions like this simply show you've done your homework and are genuinely interested in the company and its leaders.

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While this question may seem forward, Harrison says it's a smart question to ask because it shows that you understand the importance of landing a secure position. "It is a black and white way to get to the heart of what kind of company this is and if people like to work here," he says. 

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This simple question is polite to ask and it can give you peace of mind to know that you've covered all your bases, Hoover says. "It shows enthusiasm and eagerness but with polish."

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Hoover says this is a good wrap-up question that gives you a break from doing all the talking. In addition, she says you may get "answers to questions you didn't even know to ask but are important." 

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“Why?” questions

It’s a part of your boss’s job to ask you questions and then provide feedback. However, according to Carisa Miklusak, CEO of tilr, “The type of questions asked could indicate a potential problem.”

She provides four examples of problematic “why” questions:

  • “Why are you meeting with that person?”
  • “Why did you do that?”
  • “Why didn’t you do that first?”
  • “Why do you feel that’s important?”

“These types of questions could indicate that they’re concerned about your performance or losing confidence in your abilities,” Miklusak warns.

“Please let me see your work”

When you’re a new employee, your boss might ask to see your work before it is sent out. Even after you’ve been with the company for a while, this might happen on occasion – especially for a big project. However, Roberta Matuson of Matuson Consulting warns, “If this is happening all the time, it means that your boss lacks confidence in your ability to do things exactly how he or she would like them done.”

“You’re ambitious/assertive”

During performance reviews, feedback can provide the type of constructive comments that can help to advance your career. “However, women tend to receive vague feedback in performance reviews, while their male peers receive specific feedback with action plans and even sponsorship from their bosses,” according to Dr. Patti Fletcher, a technology executive, gender equity advocate, and author of DISRUPTERS: Success Strategies from Women Who Break the Mold.

“Vague feedback, in which no specific behaviors or scenarios are called out, with no actionable insights on what you should keep doing, what’s working, what isn’t, and areas of development, are red flags,” Fletcher says.

“If your boss describes you as ‘ambitious’ or ‘assertive, you are probably not receiving a compliment (though if your male counterparts receive those same words as descriptors, they likely are receiving compliments),” she explains. “Without this insight, as well as the desired outcomes, women are not able to come to a common understanding and create mutual expectations — in short, your boss will get frustrated and so will you.”

“You have a lot going on”

If you’ve been passed over for new projects or “stretch” roles, your boss may use an indirect approach to communicate a lack of confidence in your skills. And, according to Miklusak, this may be a gender-based response. “Men are positioned based on their potential, and they’re asked if they are interested in taking on a big project, and they are part of the decision,” she says.

“Women, on the other hand, are hired or appointed based on experience, and if your boss lets you know that you were not chosen by saying things like ‘you already have a lot going on,’ that’s a red flag.” Miklusak believes that this could be an unconscious bias, especially among male bosses, but she warns that not being allowed to participate in other projects or stretch roles can negatively impact your career.

Other red-flag phrases

Grant Findlay-Shirras, co-founder of Parkbench.com believes that there are other words and phrases that should be cause for alarm.

  • Let me do that for you
  • What are you doing?
  • How are you (insert task)?

According to Findlay-Shirras, “These phrases and questions should alert an employee to the fact that they are not doing well, they are not fitting in, and they should do something about it.”

Tips to reverse the situation

If your boss underestimates you, fortunately, there are steps that you can take to reverse the situation. Sometimes, your boss’s analysis may not be accurate, but in other instances, there may be performance issues that you are not aware of.

Abbi Whitaker, co-founder of The Abbi Agency believes that employees who want to gain the confidence of their boss or supervisor need to go the extra mile. “Go above and beyond: stay late to get the job done by a deadline, and proof your work very carefully to ensure there are no spelling errors or other mistakes.”

Whitaker also recommends sending thought leadership articles to your boss – and include comments on how the lessons can be incorporated by the company. “These actions demonstrate that you want to help drive culture and new ideas show that you’re engaged as an employee, and someone I would definitely want to keep around for years,” Whitaker explains.

Sometimes, it may be necessary to take a more detailed approach to changing your boss’s perception.

Cynthia Bucy, senior career consultant at IMPACT Group, advises the following steps:

  • Ask your boss if there any are concerns about your ability to accomplish the work
  • Acknowledge any difficulties; don’t try to cover up mistakes
  • Provide details of your plan to accomplish work, including measurable milestones with deadlines
  • Request checkpoint meetings to reassure your boss that you’re on track
  • If there have been problems in the past, recount steps taken to change and share successes those steps have led to
  • Emphasize strengths and achievements from the past, as well as what you’ve learned that will lead to improved work
  • Request training/development opportunities

If your boss refers to you as being ambitious or assertive, Fletcher recommends asking for an explanation of those terms. “Don’t use this opportunity to argue, but to help your boss understand his/her unconscious bias,” she says.

When you’re not assigned to new projects or roles because your boss says you have a lot going on, don’t just passively accept this response if you’re certain that you are an excellent worker who has good time management, multitasking, and organizational skills. “Use data to explain why you would be a good fit,” Miklusak explains. If you have personal or family commitments outside of work, she says this is none of the company’s business if you excel on the job. “Do not let your boss bring your personal commitments into the conversation; redirect attention to the reality rather than the perception.”

Another thing you can do is find a mentor. According to Bucy, a mentor who is considered a strong team member can help you figure out the best approach for working harmoniously with your boss.

However, a mentor is also beneficial for other reasons. According to Autumn Manning, co-founder and CEO of YouEarnedIt, “As a woman, it’s important to find people in leadership positions that not only have formal authority over your role, but people who can also be an advocate for you, offer perspective, give you real feedback, and most importantly, encourage you to step into opportunity when they see it.”

Manning warns that a boss who only looks at your title or your level of experience isn’t necessarily considering your potential. “However, when someone sees the passion, the intuition, the skills and knowledge you bring, and what you can do for the team regardless of formal title, then there’s something special there,” she concludes.

So, how do you get the boss to look past your flaws and consider what you could add to the company?

According to Findlay-Shirras, you must get your boss and coworkers to want you to succeed. “The top performers at a company can literally MAKE a person successful. Therefore, you need them to support you.”

Therefore, he says you need to be the type of person that they want to keep – even if your performance doesn’t merit it. “Work hard, be a champion of culture, ask questions, and show that you want to improve,” Findlay-Shirras explains. “And you can buy more time until your performance improves.”

This article first appeared on Fairygodboss.

This article If your boss says this, it’s a sign they probably underestimate you appeared first on Ladders | Business News & Career Advice.

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