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I Hate My Boss—What Should I Do?

Caroline BantonUpdated Dec 13, 20213 min

I Hate My Boss—What Should I Do?

Updated Dec 13, 20213 min

I Hate My Boss—What Should I Do?

Caroline BantonUpdated Dec 13, 20213 min

I Hate My Boss—What Should I Do?

Updated Dec 13, 20213 min

If you hate your boss, you will hate your job, which means you most likely will be looking for a new one. Before you take any drastic steps, take time to understand why you are in this situation and if there is anything that you can do to salvage the relationship between you and your supervisor.

One possibility is that you are experiencing burnout, and the ripple effects are affecting your working relationships. Of course, another possibility is that your boss sucks. In that case, unless your boss is imminently about to move on, you might need to beat them to it.

This article will help you understand why you are in this situation and feeling this way. It suggests ways to approach the problem, and how to plan and manage a frank discussion with your boss. Lastly, this article gives two scenarios that might help you decide whether to look for a new job.

Are You Burnt Out?

Before you come to any major decision about a potential job search, consider whether you may be approaching burnout. Are you exhausted and constantly feeling fatigued? Are you easily irritated by clients or coworkers, and have you stopped caring about the quality of your work? Are you less productive, and do you feel overwhelmed? According to World Psychiatry, these are all manifestations of burnout.

You may have been pushing yourself hard for a while, or your boss may have been expecting too much. If either or both are the case, the situation could be remedied by having a frank conversation with your supervisor and taking steps to reduce your stress.

Chances are, you are not the only one experiencing burnout, and this might be a systemic problem and part of the company culture. Some ways to tackle burnout are the following:

  • Exercise, eat a nutritious diet and sleep

  • Schedule downtime into every day to reflect and enjoy friends and family

  • Try to reduce your workload

  • Meditate

  • Don’t be a perfectionist

  • Seek some autonomy or flexibility in your work

  • Reach out for support from coworkers, career experts, mentors, family, and friends

If burnout is not the problem, turn your attention to your boss’s behavior and try to understand what might be behind it.

For more on living and working smarter, read "Work-Life Integration: Gaining Control of Your Life"

Why Do You Hate Your Boss?

You're probably already obsessing 24/7 about your work life and how unhappy you are. But it’s important to consider why you feel that way. For example, what is it that your current boss is doing that you dislike so much? Second, can you put yourself in your boss’s shoes and understand why they are behaving that way?

This process requires removing biases and being perfectly honest with yourself. For example, if you feel that your boss is always critical, do they have reason to be critical of you? Perhaps you did something that has colored their opinion of you. Perhaps they really want to see you succeed, and criticizing is their way of helping you improve.

Being open to the fact that you may have had something to do with a situation can make you feel vulnerable, but it can form the basis of an honest and frank conversation with your boss that might help to sort out your issues.

Having a bad boss can be damaging to your self-esteem. Also, it can be difficult to tell if any criticisms are justified. It is a good idea to talk to a mentor, a career counselor, or team members who know your work environment to get their opinion. A mentor or career advisor might also have suggestions for how you can handle the situation in your current job.

Is Your Boss Really the Problem?

As you explore how you feel about your boss and your work situation, step back and consider whether your boss really is the source of your unhappiness. Perhaps you are in the wrong industry and should consider a career change? Again, a career counselor could help you work through this.

For more details on changing careers, read “Changing Careers After 40

How to Have a Frank Conversation with Your Boss

The bottom line is that a discussion with your boss about how you feel will not be easy. However, if you are at the point where you are considering changing jobs, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

You might be surprised how a conversation can expose misunderstandings or make sense of bad situations. In many cases, honest and difficult discussion leads to a breakthrough.

Schedule a One-on-One

Take a deep breath, and schedule a time to meet one-on-one with your boss. Ahead of time, prepare examples of their behaviors that concern you and that you would like to discuss. Is your boss's penchant for micromanaging hindering you from taking responsibility? Are they expecting too much of you and compounding stressors?

Your goal is not to resolve things just yet, just to understand why your boss behaves that way so that you can then decide whether their behavior has merit. It would help if you did not get defensive in the meeting. Just gather information that you can then go away and think about.

If, after digesting what your boss said, you decide you want to address the issues, request a follow-up meeting. For this meeting, prepare your reasons for disagreeing with your boss using examples and data if you can. Also, prepare suggestions for ways to resolve things and outline how your plan would benefit you and your boss.

Only choose one or two suggestions. That way, your boss can commit to at least one. If you offer a list of things, there is less likelihood that your boss will really change because they may consider you a complainer.

This professional approach might help both of you to feel more comfortable, and it provides a plan to move forward so that the boss you hate can become the boss you respect. 

Of course, there is always the chance that your supervisor is unreasonable and is not prepared to work with you. In that case, it might be best for you to explore other job options.

For a more in-depth discussion, read “I Hate My Job.”

Two Scenarios

Here are two scenarios that might help you contextualize and manage your own situation. They show two outcomes. The first is a positive one. The second, less so.

Scenario 1

You are feeling underutilized at work. You are assigned to an ongoing project, but it doesn’t fill your time or challenge you in any way. You would like to be allowed to work in another area for some of your time so that you can build your skills and knowledge.

You meet with your boss to explain that you feel unchallenged and would like to be given exposure to other areas. You assure your boss that there would be no loss in your productivity for your existing work.

Your boss listens and expresses concern that you were feeling disengaged. Your boss agrees to support you in other projects on the condition that the quality of your current work does not fall and remains priority.

This is a win-win because you will be more motivated and have more respect and appreciation for your supervisor. Your supervisor will have a happier and more well-rounded employee.

Scenario 2

The second scenario involves the same situation. However, when you meet with your boss, they are not willing to allow you to take on other assignments. Your boss claims that they need your full attention at all times for their big project, just in case a deadline changes or new parameters are introduced.

Why did you get this response? Who knows? Your boss may be territorial and insecure and may not feel comfortable releasing you even with your assurances that your work will not suffer.

In this situation, your professional growth is compromised, and there is no room for negotiation with a difficult boss. There really is no way for you to resolve the problem. If you choose to go to the higher-ups or human resources, that could make things even more unbearable.

At this point, your career and your mental health are being affected. Regrettable though it is, the best decision is to look for another job and a new manager.

If this is your ultimate decision, realize that changing jobs is necessary to advance professionally. People outgrow their companies all the time, and it takes time to find a job you love.

Summary 

Don’t feel helpless when you think you have a horrible boss. There are ways to manage the situation constructively that will ensure the best outcome. Here are summary tips.

  • Consider that you might be experiencing burnout

  • Contemplate why you hate your boss

  • Consult a professional advisor or mentor for career advice

  • Ask yourself if your boss is the real problem

  • Have a frank discussion with your boss

If you decide to seek another job, know that you have done all you can to ensure its the best decision. In fact, it could be the best move you’ll ever make for your professional life, your personal life, and your psyche.

Caroline Banton
Expert on career acceleration and business topics with vast experience writing for globally-recognized publications
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