What to do if you love your job but hate your boss

It’s pretty well known that one of the most common reasons people leave jobs is because they don’t like their managers. We often say “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers,” and according to a survey conducted in 2018, 60% of respondents said they had either left a job or were considering leaving one because of their boss.

This is fine if you could take or leave the actual job. But what if you love your job and your workplace – the benefits are great, the people are fun and friendly, the work is interesting, and the commute is short – and they only thing ruining your days is your boss? So you would like to keep your job. What then? Should you stay or should you go?

If you’re being harassed, go to HR

The answer depends on what the actual problem is, of course. And only you can know your individual circumstances. But there are some obvious options. First of all, if you’re being harassed or subjected to discrimination or other illegal conduct, you should go to Human Resources and file a complaint. Then things might change.

If the reason you don’t like your boss is less cut and dry, you should probably consider something else. These reasons might include a boss who is impatient or rude, who steals credit, plays favourites, is ridiculously demanding or never happy, or who is passive aggressive.

Here are a few things you can try if you hate your boss but love your job and don’t want to leave it.

1. Try to fix the relationship.

Is your boss just a beast? Is some of the problem possibly your fault? Even if the answer to the latter question is no, you still might be able to improve your relationship. I have found that the best way to handle difficult people is often to turn them into a friend by being more solicitous.

Ask the boss if they want anything next time you’re going for a coffee, compliment the boss on their shoes or jacket, ask about their life and family. Increase the warm and friendly factor and see if you can’t get them to reciprocate. This works for a few reasons. One is that you may learn more about them and discover they’re actually not so bad — maybe they’re under major pressure from above or stressed out about a personal situation. Another reason is that, it’s easier to get someone to change their professional conduct and behaviour from a place of alliance than a place of animosity.

2. Keep your distance

On the other hand, you can’t be friends with everyone. If you’ve already tried being friendly and it hasn’t worked, you can try to minimize contact with your boss and communicate only when absolutely necessary. Avoid extraneous interaction and just focus on the job.

3. Get transferred to another department

Is it possible to stay at the company and work for someone else? Larger companies may have similar roles available under different managers. Keep an eye out for opportunities to move over or up. You might go to Human Resources and ask them if there are other opportunities, but note that the HR person might also be friends with your boss and might just turn around and tell them what you’ve done. They’re probably not supposed to do that but really, who are we kidding? People often can’t be trusted.

4. Wait it out

If your boss really is that bad, there’s a good chance you’re not the only one who has noticed and it might be only a matter of time before they’re told that “the company is moving in another direction” (which is code for “you’re fired”). I’ve been in roles that are freelance, but still dealing with managers, where less than ideal managers have come and gone while I just waited it out. I can’t guarantee this will happen, but justice sometimes takes care of itself if you’re patient.

Whatever you do, don’t start badmouthing the boss to your colleagues. Gossip and grousing is never the way to go. You never know who is going to turn around and stab you in the back, even if they act like they’re on your side. Always err on the side of caution and decorum.

5. Find another job

Yes, even if you love the job you’re in, if the boss is that bad and you can’t change it, you might have to start looking for a position somewhere else. Note that you don’t have to tell anyone – particularly not your manager – that you’re doing this. Just do it. You might find that there are a lot of great positions out there for you, some of which are even better than the one you have.

It’s a big world out there. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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