When you're the boss, sometimes you stop getting invited to things... Perhaps your team was really close and all hung out socially when you were small but now that you're bigger that's starting to happen less. Or maybe you were promoted above your peers and now people are weird about inviting you to lunch. As hierarchy develops, those in managerial positions are often invited to fewer social events. So, perhaps you're feeling some Boss FOMO.

What is FOMO you ask? Short for "fear of missing out,"  FOMO is the feeling that your peers are out there doing things that are more interesting and fun that what you're doing. In the workplace, it can be the feeling that your colleagues are spending time socially together without you and you're missing something because of it, or even that you're being left out of projects and opportunities. It can lead to feelings of stress or anxiety. As a manager, if you're feeling some FOMO, there are some things you can do to mitigate those feelings.

Humanize yourself

Create one-to-one relationships with those in your hierarchy. Get to know your team as people. This doesn't mean you have to take them all to happy hour 3 times per week - it can be as simple as opening your office door, stepping away from your desk sometimes to say hello, and making it a point to check in on how they're doing in weekly 1:1 meetings. If you're not having frequent 1:1 meetings to check in on performance and development, start setting those up on a regular cadence. Weekly might not be right for your team, but at minimum monthly you should spend some individualized time with your direct reports.

Do the asking sometimes. If your reports are always headed out to lunch together, make the invite to walk and pick up lunch together sometimes. When you're headed out for coffee, ask if they want anything. Go out for happy hour on occasion or take the time to connect with folks you don't talk to everyday at company events.

Show you care about them as individuals - when big things happen, recognize those. Birthdays, work anniversaries, weddings, losses, completing big projects - all of these provide an opportunity to recognize the individual and show you're thinking about them. By building those human connections, you'll feel less like your team is all hanging out without you.

Remember that there's a line of professionalism for a reason

As a manager, it's literally your job to manage people - to ensure a team is functioning together and individual people are putting out their best work and performing at their highest capacity. It's not your job to be everyone's friend. Care deeply about your team's success continue to hold people accountable.

Recognize that sometimes peers need to vent about their bosses, and allow for that space. Letting off steam is important, and folks don't always want their manager there when they do it. This doesn't mean you're missing out on something, so it's important to get ok with not being invited.

 Create your own support systems

FOMO is usually based in not feeling confident in yourself or missing something in your life. If you're always looking externally at what everyone else is doing, perhaps take a beat and think about why. What can you do to feel more comfortable without needing the external validation of being present and invited to every outing?

Find your own peer relationships and lean on them. Not to say that you need to create your own "cool kids club" and exclude others, but by having your own peer structure you can create some of the social spaces you might feel you're missing out on with the team below you. This includes networking outside of your organization as well as connecting with others within it.

Being a newer manager or when structures in your team change, this shift can be hard. Just remember: Everyone else is probably feeling some FOMO too!


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