I Hate My Boss – So Now What?

The time you spend thinking about how much you hate your boss or your supervisor or your team leader is time you’ll never get back. Whether you have a bad boss or a good boss or a boss somewhere in between, there are probably days your manager is going to make you scream.  And if you can’t stand your boss, maybe screaming is the best solution.

Well…not exactly.

All too often people tell me “I can’t stand my boss.” “My boss drives me crazy.” “My boss is so stupid.” And of course the oh so simple and yet every so popular  “I hate my boss.” Hardly any of us doesn’t know the agony of working for a terrible boss who drives us nuts in one way or another. The very fact that you have to have a boss – a person in charge of YOU – is enough to annoy the best of us. Add to that a bad manager who is also incompetent or insensitive or a perfectionist or countless other boss qualities…well, this is enough to drive anyone nuts!

Sure it feels good to get together with other co-workers and just let the complaints fly. In fact, sometimes you find yourself rolling on the floor as people imitate the ogre or tell one good “my boss is stupid” story after another. Release feels good. So it must be a useful way of dealing with a bad boss, right?

Well…not really.

Of course it feels great at times to vent your feelings about your stupid boss, rather than holding them in. I’m all for a good gripe session now and then if it puts you in touch with stuff that’s eating at you. But that said…what if every day you just bitch and moan about your boss or your job (whether to others or just to yourself)? Each and every day. Is that really getting it out, or just reinforcing your misery? What does all this time spent in anger toward your boss or your job actually do for YOU in the long run?

Truth be told…not much that wil help you like your job better.

As someone who early in my career was  the queen of the complainers, I can tell you it’s a hard habit to break. But I can also tell you, it can be done and it’s well worth it.

A friend of mine recently wrote me about her new teaching job. She remembers from her last job where her co-workers would sit around on breaks and just gripe about everything – especially the annoying boss. It felt good at the time to get it out and it made people feel connected – after all, they hot to hate their boss together.

But what my friend realized was she wound up connected to other miserable people becasue of what she was doing and that became a large part of her experience. In fact it shaped how how she felt about the job and, as a result, it shaped how she performed in the job – only leading to more negative feedback.  So instead, in this new job, to help her break the “I hate my boss” habit,  she now brings a book to read or works on her writing on breaks. She says she’s happier than she’s ever been on a job.

As for bonding – she meets people to talk to one-on-one about things other than how awful the boss or work is. And if she needs to bitch and moan about something that happened, well that’s what friends and family are for. Less is more when it comes to complaining in the workplace! (By the way…speaking up and offering concrete suggestions or sultions to porblems is very different than being a complainer.)

Gripe sessions at work not only keep you immersed in the misery, but also leave you vulnerable to snitches who like to tell the boss what’s being said. In the end, you spend so much time talking about the misery, that it’s hard to then go back to the job and find a way to feel good about the job or yourself. Time spent focused on how bad everything is  less time for you to make it better for yourself. And it’s certainly not the path to success.

And on top of that, if your work friendships are mostly about the agony, it makes it even harder for you to then become someone who enjoys what you’re doing. You box yourself into a misery circle that only reinforces the bad parts and does nothing to help you break out into a happier, healthier situation.

12 things you can do if you’re in the “I hate my boss club”

Rather than hating your boss or your job with so much intensity, take some of that energy and redirect it. A few possible ways to go:

  • Look for things you and your boss have in common (even bosses you don’t like may have one or two things in common with you to help you shift the way you interact)
  • Try to find things to talk to your boss about – a good start is things she or he is interested in, but you can progress to work things where your ideas can be heard
  • Find something that needs doing and offer to take it on
  • Come up with ways to improve the work process and maybe save the company money
  • Make friends with positive people (and if possible those on your boss’s good side)
  • Focus on the job and how to do it better
  • Go above and beyond in your work – and make sure your boss finds out about it (the true benefit of good allies)
  • Focus on what you have and not on those things you don’t have
  • Start to project a more positive and competent attitude
  • Check your the ‘tude at the door. You earn respect in each new situation; it’s not due you.
  • Be the person who says “I can” and not “Can’t be done”
  • If you see a problem, come with solutions (It’s ok to bring up things that bug you – but come with possible remedies, not just gripes.)

These are only a few suggestions you might try to help improve things. I’m sure there are many other things that also might help. You have little chance of ever changing your boss (unless she or he leaves), but you can indeed put effort into things that are in your own control – namely yourself and your attitude.

By the way…if you put all that effort into hating your boss, imagine how that affects how he feels about you. People can feel the hate. Conversely they can also feel sincere effort and respect. Which do you think is the smartest choice of action?

Boss hating is a waste of time and effort – seriously!

Sure it feels good in the moment.  Sharing strong feelings like hating your boss or co-workers can give you a false sense of power – in the moment; but they actually leave you weakened in the workplace. And all that anger only comes back to kick you in the butt. I’ve seen it all too often!

The less time you spend thinking about how awful things are and the more time you spend kicking up your own contribution to the workplace (both in attitude and effort), the better things can become for you and everyone. Your attitude and work style affects not only yourself, but those around you. And it’s amazing how different things can feel when you’re actually doing well and getting good feedback.

Being positive does not automatically make you into a brown-nosed, goody-two-shoes…in case you were thinking that. It’s just a lot more fun to go to work with people who pitch in, support each other, and find a way to smile – even in the toughest situations. These are also the people who most often eventually move up and out, beyond the reach of even the most aggravating boss. Or they get promoted and become the boss!

Of course, there are some situations that are so awful there really isn’t much you can do but move on. But in most situations, there is at least one thing you can do to improve the way you feel about your boss or your job. I challenge you to find something and tell me about it.

And if the first try doesn’t work, please keep trying. You don’t change around your own reputation in one day, nor do you easily break old habits of fixating on a boss’s shortcomings. It all takes time. Be patient. Set some realistic goals. And good luck!


About the author…

Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, and on Google+.


  1. issues@workplace says:

    Hi Ronnie Ann,

    I’m back just as I had promised. I finally managed to find a solution to my problem. I’ve switched teams. Sincerely hope that things work out for me in my new team. But first of all, let me tell you that I like your new website.

    Try what may, my boss wouldn’t arrive at a consensus to resolve the miscommunication issues. Worser than that, she misquoted me to her manager. This came up when I was having a discussion with her manager about switching teams. When I spoke to her about this, she denied it all and went to the extent of saying that her manager might have been busy and misunderstood her. Then I told her that the three of us might have to sit down and talk to clarify things. She brushed it off.

    After that, in two other incidents she put me in a fix by first giving me the wrong information and then by denying that. She even went to the extent of asking the HR Mgr to sack me. But the HR Mgr said that that was not possible as she had not been privy to our conversation. The HR Mgr kept advising me about communicating properly. But I could see that she had a difficult time as to whom to believe out of the two of us.

    I decided enough was enough and told the HR Mgr and my boss’s manager that since I was only encountering problems with this one person, they should switch me over to another team. And I also told them that it would help me vindicate myself. But it looks like the lady has always been carrying tales to them about all the petty incidents that had happened in the team.

    My boss’s manager did not totally accept that my boss was in the wrong. And she told me that I cannot be moved into another team that easily and may have to take a test [which is unheard of in team transfers for other employees like me in the organisation :-( ]

    All the same, I took the test last week and the mgr of the other team liked my work. And I’ve been moved to my new team this week.

    I need your suggestions as to how I should conduct myself in my new team and with my previous boss from now on.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. Hi issues@workplace!

    I applaud how well you stood up for yourself. I think you did the right thing by giving your boss another chance, and admire that after you saw there was no way to make it work there, you took action and got yourself to a new team. Congratulations!

    Basically, although there seem to be some things going on behind the scenes and one never knows what mischief the old boss can make, at this point your best course of action is to simply be the best member of the new team you can be. Focus on your job and don’t worry about the other stuff, since it’s out of your control anyway. Your new manager showed a willingness to give you a chance and, probably, a willingness to stand up despite all the background noise. That’s hopeful. If you’re good, s/he may be your best ally.

    It might be a smart idea to sit down with your new boss and let him/her know how happy you are to be part of the new team and that you want to do the best job possible. Then you might ask for his/her help by letting you know how you are doing and, if anything comes up, please let you know right away. And then again, thank your new manager, and just get back to doing your best. This helps make sure you create an open communications channel with your new boss and also helps increase the chances that s/he will come to your defense if your old boss says anything.

    As for your old boss, no matter what’s gone on between you, your best course of action at this point would be to simply smile and let it all go the best you can. Not for her sake, but for YOUR sake. No sense harboring ill will for someone else’s problems. And anyway…she did you a BIG favor. She got you to a better boss! :)

    Good luck in the new team. I wish you all the best. Congratulations again for having the strength to stick up for yourself and get to a better place.

    Ronnie Ann

  3. This is such a helpful article, however I have a few curve balls to dodge.

    I graduated college 2.5 years ago with a BS in Design. I a job as a product designer the november after I graduated, so pretty much right out of college. I did have experience in retail, management, teaching design as well as producing it; so i wasn’t COMPLETELY new.

    However, my boss apparently saw me as just an assistant designer, even though I am the company’s ONLY designer. It has been almost 2 years since I have been at this job, and he still treats me like an amateur. He trusts that I can do all my work, and get it done well… but he doesn’t not respect or appreciate me. He rarely listens to my opinions or comments, and constantly complains about stupid, non-important things to my co-workers. I approached him about this issue and he denied everything, basically pinning everything on my co-worker. However, he doesnt really understand that she and I are much closer and work/communicate the best of anybody else in this company. We trust and respect one another completely, so we know he’s lieing. Plus this isnt the first time this has happened.

    Like I said before, I have confronted him and told him that I did not appreciate him talking behind my back, to let me know if there is a problem. But it continues to happen. I have even gone to the GM and stated I was confused as to where my future was with the company as I was feeling unappreciated, disrespected and not sure of possible future positions which I could work towards. The GM was very understanding and assured me he wanted me to stay. However, the next day I got chewed out by my boss… catch 22…

    I guess my main problem is that I am treated like an amateur, get paid like an amateur and do the job of a 7 year experienced senior product designer. When you are the ONLY desinger… you do it ALL. And I’m trusted and told well at every review that I do my job well, and then some. So NOW what do I say? No conversation has brought me any closer to gaining the respect, appreciation or promotion I deserve.

  4. Hi Jess!

    I totally feel for you. There’s almost nothing worse than doing a good job, trying everything you can to make things work, and still not getting the respect you deserve.

    It’s a little like having a parent who, no matter what you do or how much you accomplish, still treats you like The Baby.

    I respect how much you’ve done to try to make this work. The tips in this post are only helpful to the point that the boss is willing to bend a little or at least give value to the points you’re making. In this case, your boss may be closed to any change on his part; and, wish until the cows turn blue, he will never be the way you want him to be.

    Since you’ve already tried pretty much everything a person can do, you have two basic choices: to stay or to leave.

    If you choose to stay, and assuming there’s no way to get to another boss, you’ll just have to accept that this is who he is and stop waiting for him to be different. If there is enough satisfaction from your job itself and the respect of your co-workers, then really think about how you are letting your boss’s reactions color your experience there.

    Oh…not that I don’t understand why you feel this way. Just think about whether you could find a way to lessen the impact of his behavior. In other words…this is who he is and he has to live with himself forever; but is there any way you can learn to just say “Oh well, that’s him!” and let the lack of appreciation slide by you, focusing instead on all the accolades you get from others? (If we can’t change others – and we rarely can – how much can we change what we focus on? You might want to read my August 18th post on zen and the workplace.)

    Now if you really can’t take it any more, you might just have to look elsewhere. The old saying about not being a prophet in your own land may apply. Sometimes in our careers, as much as we might not want to do it, we need to look elsewhere for the raise or promotion or, as in your case, the respect that you should be getting. At the very least, you could start to look and see what else is out there.

    I’m not sure any of this was helpful, but I hope at least it gives you some new ways of looking at the situation. Please let us know what you decide to do and how it turns out!

    Good luck!

    Ronnie Ann

  5. heating my boss every day… thanks for these advise they do make sense

  6. This happened last year around this time, but it’s still funny as hell.

    This morning my boss presented the company 2011 pro forma in powerpoint. The first slide should have had the title “Charting Our Financial Future Through 2011″. Since my stupid boss knows everything and NEVER listens to anyone’s advice, I guess I should expect him to ignore the advice of spell check too. Ever notice how close the C and S keys are on a keyboard? His plan is for us to be “Sharting” our way to financial success next year.

  7. Ha! Thanks for sharing that. Then again…maybe that’s the best plan he could come up with. ;-)

  8. I don’t hate my boss, actually I only hate the man who abused my son (ex-wife’s boyfriend) but my boss is horrible in the fact that she thinks of me as nothing other than a robot.

    I am human.
    I have needs.
    I fulfill my duties 100%, albeit sometimes late.
    I’m prompt 99% of the time.

    Because of how cheap my boss is, I’ve lost my teeth (no health benefits), I’ve lost my home (living in friends basement) and soon I will lose my sanity.

    My past bosses would slip me $50 here and there for job well done, but my boss will clock me out 3 minutes early to save a penny – that’s how cheap she is.

    I feel as though I’m not making my point, so I will elaborate slightly:
    -She dumps all of her work on me
    -She’s rarely at the office
    -I’ve received only ONE raise since starting work here, nearly 4 years ago
    -I’m pleasant and handle more than my share of the work on a daily basis
    -I PROVIDE A SERVICE THAT VERY FEW ARE CAPABLE OF AT MY WAGE LEVEL: Architectural Design! (I make less than $30K per year!)

    • Markis,

      I am sorry that you feel so upset with your boss. That said, I also should tell you that it’s also okay — and it sounds like you should certainly — look for a new job.

      Before you do, make sure you do something you truly enjoy in your spare time — and that makes you smile. If you go into the search with a downtrodden attitude, you may find it much harder to get hired. People generally prefer to hire and work with positive people. It’s hard when you feel like you aren’t being treated as though you would like to be, but I encourage you to feel better nonetheless…

      Good luck,

  9. I work in a two person business which is composed of my boss and me. We both are paid well and have amazing benefits. My boss has chosen to start his own business and uses the office of the business and all the business supplies, including software programs, to run his personal business. He has his wife as an employee, although she works from home, and pays her and her social security payments out of this personal business. This personal business consumes close to 90% of his time, so I am left to operate the business which is paying all the expenses which my boss uses for his personal advantage. My boss is a Trustee in this two person trust (of which I am an employee).. The decisions about the Trust’s operation are determined by another Trustee, the Trust’s attorney and the Trust’s accountant. I have told my boss that I do not think it is right that he runs his personal business out of the office, etc. His reply is that he is only trying to earn an income for his family. I have talked to my boss and the accountant and the accountant suggests that my boss pay the Trust for the office space, the supplies and the use of other expenses. There are many days that I can work around thinking about this, but my bosses office is right next to mine and I can hear him use the phone for his personal business and spend the time on his personal business. I really do not want to communicate with my boss, which most of the time I do not need to. But I do want to be able to be happy in my work. I love my job and as next year I will be 65, it is smart for me to keep it. Please help me figure out what to do about working with someone with whom my idea of right and ethical is different from my own. Our company is audited once a year..should I think about talking to the auditors about the Trustee ( my boss) running his personal business using the Trust’s resources. Thank you so much!

  10. I work in an MNC as an Asst.Manager-Operations.Since the last three years,i am managing my two team members in pacing up with the work flow even after office hours.Till the time,three of my subordinates had left the organisation due to staggered timing of work flow.I had repeatedly asked my Boss to have the schedules done as per the normal office timings of 8 & 1/2 hrs.BUT All goes in vain.
    Even in Off days,i used to get calls from my BOSS and without listening my opinions/suggestions/possibilities/situations, he will rather go as per his head and makes me feel like instrumental.I am now so much devastated and frustrated with my work that i feel no more gain in my social life. Literally,me & my team used to start at 09:00 hrs and ends every evening at 21:00 hrs.
    In mostly every meetings,my Boss will never be mutual and will drag to every corner (It feels like getting ragged)..Most of the surprise thing is while other Dept colleagues used to stand up in support of me for the appraise.In most of the other branches,my dept colleagues had left the organisation for the only and one filthy situation.(They had opted for quiting rather than getting the same with HR)

    Please suggest me..What Shall i do..?

  11. Hello there.

    I am indeed in the I Hate My Boss Club. I feel for people out there who are at the edge of sanity over having to deal with a boss they hate. I would pep-talk and say that bosses are only human whatever they may think of themselves, but because I’m struggling with my own boss too, I know that’s one platitude no one likes to hear at this point.

    My problem is with my team leader who, for as long as I’ve been with the company, has never taken ownership of his own team. He himself came from another department and our team of 12 was his first admin job, but clearly he’s more eager to help out his previous department than he is with managing us. He’d go through the motions, sure, managing our workload, hiring and firing people, performing QA roles … just to keep productivity barely beyond the minimum. I mean it’s fine with him if we’re more productive, but if we scrounge around and slack off, it’s fine as long as we meet our targets. Isn’t that nice. Huh. It would be, but if it was his previous department in need, he was more driven, eager, focused … sometimes at our expense.

    He never really let go of his previous job and was just messing around with us because at least he gets to be referred to as our manager – a manager. This works to his advantage because he gets to boss us around over what trifle of a team vision he has, but if our team fails and we get dissolved, most of us will get retrenched and he gets his old job back.

    He never volunteers any new prospects for our team. He has no plans to make the team more profitable or competitive. He doesn’t interact with us in a way that makes us feel that our work is welcome or appreciated. When upper management makes decisions detrimental to our team, like taking the best colleagues in our team and putting them on other teams, he never argues for our benefit. I know all this because he and I are the most senior members of the team. We speak frequently, even have a few beers every now and then. I think he’s a nice guy but a total wuss. And because of his attitude, our team already feels like a dead end.

    It’s not like I didn’t try to do anything for the team. He didn’t have any plans for the team so I pitched my own. I’m a management graduate, he’s a nurse; so I think I know what I was pitching. I was the one who mingled with everyone and tried to rub on some sort of team spirit or ethos. But as upper management kept on making decisions for our team while my manager just looked on, I myself have given up myself. I did what I could; I didn’t get any help or support from my manager. So just to stop the madness, I handed in my resignation letter early this morning.

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