What Should You Do If You Hate Your Boss?

Consider this scenario: You dread going into work not because of your daily tasks — but because you can’t stand your manager. Many of us have been there at one point in time.

Whether you are in the public sector or not, this is a common scenario many Americans face. Whether it’s about micro-management, lack of empathy, inconsistent behavior, poor conduct, playing “favorites”, or offering a lack of direction are to blame, having a bad manager undoubtedly contributes to your overall job dissatisfaction.

In fact, the recruitment agency Staffbay.com conducted a survey with 15,000 job seekers and found that 87.2% said they wanted to leave their current role within the next 12 months, with 52.6% citing the reason was because they didn’t trust their boss. And a recent study from Gallup (reported by Wall Street Journal) surveyed 7,200 adults and found that about half had left a job at some point “to get away from their manager.”

So, what’s a person to do? Here are five tips to lessen the burden.

1 –  Isolate the Scenario:

Before you place the blame of job dissatisfaction with your manager, think to yourself: “Do I dislike the job, or just my manager? Then ask yourself: “What could I possibly have done to contribute to this feeling?” Personal accountability should be the first step toward improving the relationship with your boss.

Then ask: “What is it that makes me hate my boss?”  It could be that you’re being overly sensitive to certain situations. Asking these questions can help you focus on where the problem truly lies and give you a more objective look into the situation.

2 – Document Everything:

It’s hard to prove anything said through verbal communication, so make sure you leave a paper trail and document everything you possibly can. Be specific about your claims: include details that clearly describes the events (what, where, when, and why the instance happened).

The documentation can offer clarity as you re-evaluate the scenarios, but it can also allow you to vent and calm you down — and potentially prevent you from getting overly emotional in the workplace. Additionally, it provides a written trail that can be viewed by your HR department, or worst case, legal documentation.

3 – Clear the Air:

While maintaining utmost professionalism, schedule a meeting to communicate the issues you have with your manager. At best, your manager won’t even have the self-awareness of what’s going on. At worst, you have even more grounds to contact your HR team.

Ask for New Manager:

If you have done everything you can to repair a relationship with your manager and nothing has changed, you might have to seek outside guidance from your HR team. You can request a new manager or get input from them about what to do.

Most public sector organizations have an official plan for workplace harassment. If your manager harasses you, is abusive, discriminating, or engages in illegal behavior, this is a serious issue you should not take lightly. You can even escalate the complaint to appropriate legal authorities.

Sometimes it’s imperative to take matters of a bad manager into your own hands. Remember: keep your cool and follow the above steps.

View more resources on career advancement on GovLoop.

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yeah… none of that works with a really bad manager. And they WON’T change your manager, that is the biggest load I’ve ever heard.


the public sector is a different animal that DOESN’T play by the so called rules. unqualified people are hired to manage jobs they know nothing about, and they are unwilling to learn. often people are only hired based on who they know. the idea that HR will step in and somehow help is laughable. people in “HR” are hired to be nothing more than damage control; they will invite you to a ‘friendly’ meeting only to find out what the manager did that might get the organization in trouble and then head it off, usually at the expense and degradation of the affected employees. so called ‘managers’ are very often uneducated and very insecure, but once they are placed in a leadership position the train just keeps on rolling with no consequences for anything they do. managers are protected, employees are not, and morale goes in the toilet.

Mark Hammer

One of the characteristics that makes a “bad manager” is underspecification of what needs to be done, and general inability to give clear direction. Of course, if they can’t spell out what you need to do to make them happy, the odds are lower that you *will* make them happy, or feel any sense of fulfillment in finishing those tasks.

Another characteristic is micro-management, and essentially doing your job rather than letting you do it yourself. In my experience that is often a reflection of perceived pressure from above on the part of the manager, such that letting *you* do the job feels like them taking too big of a risk themselves.

Another characteristic is not knowing how to divide up the work appropriately. Sometimes that means giving disproportionately more/less to some than to others. Sometimes it involves mismatch between individual strengths and assigned tasks. But it can also involve dividing something up so much that coordination and completion of the objectives is that much harder to do.

All three are recipes for exasperation and disengagement. The good news is that all three are amenable to friendly conversations and suggestions to the manager that will leave the manager’s dignity and status intact, won’t feel like confrontations, and could lead to better managerial habits and higher team performance. Simple suggestions like “I need to have a better sense of exactly what you need me to do, and the purpose, so that I can do a better job at it.”, or “We might be able to get through this faster or do a better job if we redistributed the work a little differently. I’d be happy to do X.” are non-adversarial approaches one can try.