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My Awful Boss Is Always Undermining Me

Estimated reading time: 7 mins

It is one thing to have a bad boss and a totally another to have a boss that hates you. While a bad boss can mean that there is more responsibility on you to manage everything, a boss that hates you is determined to find any reason to cause trouble for you to the point that you feel like quitting. It is this intention to harm your career that can be very dangerous for you. However, it can also be possible that your boss is just a person who gets a kick out of undermining his/her staff. In this blog post, I will talk about all the signs of an awful boss who is always undermining you and what are the things that you can do to counter this behavior.

So what makes a boss awful? Here are some of the most common signs that you are stuck with a manager who is detrimental to your career:

  • Habit of Throwing You under the Bus. Something at your workplace went wrong and the senior management is looking for an explanation. If your boss squarely blames you for everything without taking any of the accountability on himself/herself then chances are that s/he is a horrible boss. Such inability to accept any responsibility and simply blaming things on the subordinates is what should really get you worried.
  • Stealing Your Ideas. We all try to do things that will make our bosses look good, because they are the ones who will eventually have a strong say in our promotions and appraisals. However, it is very unacceptable for any boss to simply pass off your ideas as his or her own. S/he should give all due credit to you for the idea and the effort. While this behavior can persist with all employees, it can be stronger in case your boss also loathes you and wants you to get no recognition at all.
  • Belittling You All The Time. You know you have a boss who undermines you if s/he leave no opportunity to have a demeaning behavior with you. A boss who hates you will leave no chance of treating to terribly, simply wanting you to quit your job.
  • Denying You Participation. If you see your boss constantly forgetting to invite you to participate in special projects or important meetings, then chances are that s/he is doing it deliberately out of hate. While a couple of oversights can be ignored as forgetfulness, failing to remember you in all or most of the important email exchanges shows that your boss is undermining your abilities and is trying to isolate you. Being shut out or excluded from any projects should be a major red flag for you.
  • Not Giving You Any Feedback. Always remember that a boss who really wants you to grow will provide you with good, constructive feedback. An absence of any feedback coming from your boss means that s/he is just completely indifferent to you and your actions. Such a behavior can very well mean that your boss does not have much interest in your career development or efforts at your workplace.
  • Criticizing You in Public. Talking about feedback, if the only form of feedback you get from your boss is complete criticism of your work in front of other colleagues then I am sure you have a problem. Openly criticizing your ideas or any efforts that you make in a meeting or at your workstation is a major sign of showing disrespect to anyone. An undermining boss will go out of his or her way to make you feel embarrassed.
  • Micromanaging You Exclusively. There are many reasons for bosses to micromanage things at work, including the need to have constant control, feeling insecure at some level or not trusting the subordinates. While some micromanagement is fine if you are new to a job, if this pattern persists and is there just for you then can be a problem. In fact, micromanagement can also lead to some form of mild bullying and intimidation.
  • Keeping You Busy In Mundane Tasks. It is fine if you are doing smaller, less glamorous tasks at a workplace at the start. However, if your boss is exclusively asking you to do petty things like fetching coffee or getting documents printed when your job role requires you to do much bigger things then you have a problem. This demonstrates their inability to trust or respect you and can mean that they want you to change your job. Sometimes, this also signals that you intimidate your boss and s/he feels the need to undermine you.

All the above signs should lead you to realizing that your boss is not particularly fond of you. Finding yourself in such a situation can put you off and worry you. However, not all hope is lost. Below are some of the things that you can do to counter such negativity from your boss:

  1. Have Control Of Yourself. The best way to minimize the effects of a bad boss undermining you is by working on yourself. Look at your own personal strengths and weaknesses and see all the areas that you have to improve. Make sure that you are not actually giving your boss any reasons to undermine you. It is possible that there are some issues with you that you need to work on. If that is not the case, then try to find healthy ways to get all this worry off your shoulders. Do relaxing activities and exercises. Take timeouts and talk to other people at work about good, productive things. Be a positive influence on others around you to minimize others having a similar opinion about you. Give all the respect to your boss and try to do teach task to the best of your capabilities. How will this help? Doing your job above reproach will lessen the impact of a bad boss on your performance at work, making you feel good and noticed positively by others.
  2. Have Clear Priorities. Instead of locking yourself up, you should try to have a meeting with your boss on clarifying his/her expectations. Take notes of the expectations and send out an email so that you both are on the same page and there is no defense on your boss’s side if you achieve and overachieve the tasks. Create a clear plan along with goals and action steps that you will need to take. This will minimize any misunderstandings about you. Almost all bosses appreciate such an initiative as it shows that you value them and are willing to learn.
  3. Communicate With Your Boss Regularly. All bosses hate surprises. It is important to let your boss know all the tasks that you are working on and all deliverables that you have aligned. Send out emails, casual updates as well as small meetings. Doing so will actually help you take your boss off your back as you will keep him/her occupied with updates from your end to minimize his/her from taking out more time to criticize you. Just make sure that you do not overdo this, selecting the right time and right space in between so that your boss is not annoyed by these updates. Avoiding your boss or retreating from them will only add to your troubles.
  4. Do Strategic Confrontation. It is not wise to fight your bad boss over everything as you will usually lose and your arguments will become ineffective. Pick your fights when you have a strong reason and confront them positively, possibly with supporting data to help you prove your point of view. Document your argument whenever discussing your concerns. This will help you maintain your integrity and keep a record of the incident.
  5. Consult With Others. This is a bit tricky; while I do not encourage you in getting in any kind of politics at work, it is important to have discreet discussions with your fellow colleagues, especially the ones close to you. Just casually ask them what experience they have working with your boss. Try to talk to them about the last thing that your boss complained about you and ask them for their advice and tips on how you can improve. If your boss appreciates some colleagues, talk to them and see what you can improve in yourself. It might be good to have a serious consultation with your boss’s boss, provided they are approachable. Just keep in mind that going over your manager’s head can sometimes backfire. Do this carefully and thoughtfully.
  6. Get In Touch With Your HR. If nothing else works, you will have to contact your Human Resource team. It also depends on whether your HR team is compliance driven or employee advocates. Being compliance driven will mean that they will probably take your boss’s side and that can end up making your boss hate you even more. However, more and more HR departments these days are genuinely keeping a neutral standpoint, truly helping their employees. It might be possible for you to discuss your options with them and see if you can change your department within the organization to avoid the onslaught of your undermining boss.

I hope these tips will help you find some peace with your boss. Do you have any other tips? Let us know in the comments section. Also, do check our posts on How to Deal With an Indiscreet Boss and 5 things your boss doesn’t want to hear you say.

 
This post is part 16 of 16 in the series You and Your Boss

About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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