6 Signs Your Boss Hates You: How to Tell If You’ve Fallen Out of Favor
My Boss Hates Me!
Have you read the book “He’s Just Not That Into You?” While the now famous book-turned-movie deals with showing women all the signs of indifference from the men they’re trying to date, the same principles can be applied to platonic boss-employee relationships as well. Has your boss stopped calling? Stopped introducing you to new clients? Has it been years since the last pay raise or promotion? Falling out of favor with your boss — especially when you think everything is fine regarding your working relationship — is a tough blow to the ego. In fact, sometimes it stings so much that employees take shelter in denial and pretend everything is hunky-dory. But unless you feel like wasting years working for someone who doesn’t like you and won’t advance your career, you need to take some action. Here are six signs your boss hates you, and what you can do about it.
You used to get your assignments and handle them on your own without a problem. But now, nothing you do is right and your boss feels the need to tell you that as often as possible.
While every boss is different and circumstances inevitably vary, if your manager is micromanaging you to the point of absurdity it’s because he/she doesn’t trust you. And before you start getting defensive, it doesn’t matter why. For whatever reason — misguided or deserved — your boss feels you can’t be trusted to perform even the simplest of tasks on your own. Now you’re mired in a dysfunctional situation in which your boss feels like he has an inept employee, as you grow more and more resentful and start dreading work every day.
SOLUTION: The easy answer is quit and find another job. But if that’s not possible, try talking with your boss openly and honestly. Suggest one weekly meeting to avoid the constant visits to your desk multiple times a day. Without being confrontational, tell your boss you want to do a good job and excel, but need a little more independence to do so.
5. Inaccessibility & Indifference
While it’s the opposite of the micromanaging problem, being on the receiving end of the cold shoulder is no fun either.
Your boss seems to have no problem making some time for his favorites in the office, but when you try to book some time with him/her it never seems to happen. All of your one-on-ones seem to get canceled or rescheduled at the last minute, or worse — your boss forgets you had a meeting altogether. The harsh reality is managers will make time for someone whenever they feel it is important enough to do so. So if you can’t get an audience with your boss while others can, he/she obviously has a specific problem with you.
SOLUTION: If this has been a recurring problem you can forget email — you need to manufacture some face-time with your boss. Scope out a time the boss is alone, walk in confidently and immediately stress to him/her you need to discuss something important. Say something along the lines of “I know how busy you are, but we seem to have had some trouble with scheduling recently and I really need to talk to you because I value your input and guidance. So do you have a few minutes?”
You’re sitting in your cubicle at 2:59 p.m., when suddenly everyone on your team rises and heads to the conference room. You’ve got nothing scheduled and received no urgent emails, so you ask where everyone is going only to find out your boss called a meeting for a project on which you’re working. That leaves two options, neither of them very good. Either 1) your boss genuinely and mistakenly forgot to invite you, or 2) you were excluded on purpose. While the latter is obviously worse, if you’re so forgettable to your boss that you slip his/her mind for a simple meeting invite, that’s not a good sign either.
SOLUTION: At the earliest possibility, approach your boss directly and ask him what happened. It might just have been an honest mistake, so avoid being confrontational or emotional about what happened. But if it was intentional, be firm about your need to hear from your boss what problems exist in his/her eyes. Stress the fact that you can’t do your job effectively if you’re not privy to meetings and the most current information.
3. Ignored/Insulted During Meetings
Team meetings — especially gatherings such as brainstorming sessions — are supposed to be a non-judgmental place to freely express ideas and get the ball rolling. But if all of your contributions are met with derision, scorn and dismissals from your boss then you know something is amiss. If you’re being ignored or — even worse — “shushed” during the creative process, then that’s a problem that needs to be addressed immediately.
SOLUTION: We sound like a broken record at this point, but you need to talk to your boss about this. Some bosses just aren’t great with people or social skills, and he/she honestly might not even realize it’s happening. This is a tough tightrope for an employee to walk because if you come across as a complainer, then you’re just going to be viewed as a whiner. So eat some humble pie and try something along the lines of “I feel like I might not be expressing myself in meetings in the most effective way and I definitely have a lot of good ideas I’d like to communicate. Do you have any tips that might help me and, in turn, benefit the team?”
There’s room to be smart and savvy without turning into a total pushover. Find that middle ground.
2. Lack of Feedback
The only thing worse than constant negative feedback from your boss, is no feedback at all.
At least when your boss is dumping on you, you know he/she still cares enough to say something. But if you’re handing in work on a consistent basis and getting zero positive or negative feedback, it could mean your boss doesn’t view you as a valued team member and therefore doesn’t care what you do. It’s possible your time could be limited and you’re not being coached up because your boss knows you won’t be around much longer.
SOLUTION: If you can find something else that’s a better fit, you might want to pull the trigger. But if you need the job and want to stay, you have to take matters into your own hands. Pull out your dusty copy of your employee handbook and find the section on employee reviews. Is yours way past due? If so, cite that in an email to your boss in which you specifically ask for feedback in the hopes of improving your performance. Couch it in a way that shows you’re ever-eager to evolve and improve. As an added bonus, it serves as written proof that you’re doing your part if it gets to the point of termination or HR getting involved.
1. You’re Assigned Menial Tasks
You worked hard for that bachelor’s degree. Even harder for the master’s. You have a sharp mind, a few years of experience under your belt, and you’re itching to get ahead. But it’s hard to do that when your boss views you as the office intern. Despite your qualifications, your boss has chosen you as his errand-runner, coffee-bringer and bagel-fetcher. Although you’re one of the hardest workers on the team, your efforts are being wasted on menial tasks because your boss has — for reasons known only to him/her — picked you as a whipping boy and personal slave.
SOLUTION: It all depends on your boss and your specific situation. If this is a highly competitive job that will be a steppingstone to a high salary position in a year or two, maybe you stick it out. But if you don’t want to quit yet can’t bear the thought of being a glorified intern, take some action. Make yourself a “brag book” and fill it with specific examples of your noteworthy successes while on the job. Then go to your boss and present him/her with it, asking for added responsibilities. Pitch a new project or idea you’ve been cooking up, and tell your boss you’d like the opportunity to pursue it.
Maybe you’ll still have to put up with fetching daily coffees, but if you make a big enough impression you can get promoted and escape to greener pastures sooner.
Know Where You Stand & Go From There
Everyone is different, our bosses are different, and no two situations are the same. The advice in this article will not be applicable to every single person who reads it. But at the very least, you need to know if any of these things apply to you because workers are often blind to the fact that they’ve fallen out of favor with their boss. No one wants to admit they’re not liked, and sometimes we bury our heads in the sand and pretend everything is fine. But the sooner you realize you’re in a bad situation with your boss, the faster you can formulate a plan to either quit or confront your boss in the hopes of improving your lot.
If you have other examples of signs your boss hates you we didn’t list, please leave them in the comments section below.
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