I got caught in this trap last week. I’m out of the office for a few days on business travel so my connection with my boss has been mininal other than email and text. We’ve been working through some personnel isues, and we’re not pacing well on a specific budget line. I get one email after the other from my boss and the next thing I know I have a scheduled meeting with her on the Thursday I return to the office. I found myself getting nervous for a while until I remembered that we achieved budget in Q1, grew share, and the staff morale is at an all time high. Despite all those things I still thought for a while, “maybe she wants to move me out” or “maybe i’m in trouble!”
No matter what position you are in I think you always second guess the email that comes in on your iPhone when you know you’ve been out of the office for a few too many minutes. I know that when I ask one of my direct reports to step into my office I always try to follow it up with, “you’re not in trouble.” Otherwise they walk into my office on the defense.
Take a look at this post on Business Insider about “Why bosses make you nervous.”