I would ask my manager for an appointment, or bring it up during a regularly-scheduled meeting.
I prefer to be direct. I suggest beginning with a specific example of a meeting that occurred or decision that was made in your absence. I would not lead with “I’m routinely left out” or “I’m always left out.”
Clearly describe what you feel you had to offer as input into the decision or meeting. Be clear and specific, not defensive. Then, ask your manager if there is an operational or bureaucratic reason why you were not included and your input was not sought. In my career I’ve sometimes been surprised about the politics of who is invited into the room for a discussion.
If this is the case, and you were not invited for reasons of level/seniority, or because only one person from your department can attend, then you could ask to be alerted in advance to the agenda for meetings that relate to your job so you could provide your input to the meeting attendee. This way, your input may be able to impact the decision or outcome of the meeting, even if you are not present.
Your perceived performance may be the reason you get excluded from the meetings, as well. Ask your boss and a few trusted colleagues to give you feedback on how you have performed at the meetings you are invited to. Do you sit at the table (rather than in a corner away from the main participants)? Do you give your full, undivided attention to the meeting (no texting, typing, etc.)? Do you speak up at appropriate times? Do you interrupt, or drag conversations on after a decision is made? Failing to be a productive meeting participant can also lead to exclusion from meetings.
Understanding with your manager and teammates the reason for your exclusion could go a long way toward solving the problem.
Lori Spangler has a Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry and spent her career working in R&D in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. She was a process chemist for much of her career, then moved to manage people, teams, and global projects. Dr. Spangler was a campus recruiter for both companies she worked for, as well as an onsite interviewer. She has been an ACS Career Consultant for 10 years. In this role, she is able to help chemists develop career plans, create application documents, and practice interviewing skills.
This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.
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