First thing’s first – let’s figure out WHY your boss might not “like” you or what your boss is doing to make you feel that way.
- Your boss doesn’t trust you: Your boss shouldn’t trust you unless you’ve proven that you can be trusted. If you haven’t done that, work to build trust with your boss by doing your job (well), finish things on time, and have a positive attitude.
- Your boss disagrees with you – Your boss is the boss and they don’t have to agree with you. It’s possible that they know more than you and that your idea is a bad one. It’s also possible that it is a good idea that has been tried before and didn’t work.
- Your boss denies a request for a raise – Do you deserve a raise? Giving a raise is not always at the discretion of your manager so simply asking for more money and being turned down is not by itself a signal that your boss doesn’t like you.
- Your boss doesn’t acknowledge your wins – What does he or she do for other employees when they have “wins.” Are you being left out or is nobody receiving praise? Is what you’re classifying as a win truly a win to your boss? If not, then it stands to reason that they are not thinking about giving out praise.
- Your boss ignores your ideas – Everyone wants to be heard. But there’s a difference between listening to your ideas and not acting on them and simply ignoring them. Is your idea good? Even if it is good, your boss may know that there’s no budget for it or that this idea or one like it has been tried before and failed.
Ok, we got real about the issues now let’s get real about the solutions. Here are THREE options:
Option 1: Address the situation head-on, with authenticity and objectivity.
If you believe your boss doesn’t like you, it’s a real bummer. It doesn’t feel good and your own performance could suffer, perpetuating the problem. You will tend to behave in ways that align with your belief system. So if you believe that you have little or no support, that your boss has it out for you, and your ideas are not valued, you’ll eventually act out in ways that are self-sabotaging and counterproductive to the situation. You might withhold your ideas, shut down, participate less in meetings, attend fewer social events, and in general, disengage or worse, begin acting defensive and hostile. Having a boss that doesn’t like you will drain your energy, choke off creativity, and kill confidence.
Don’t simply trust your gut on this. If you are off base in your assessment, you can do more damage than good by bringing up all of these feelings. Before doing tackling things head on, become strategically vulnerable and get some feedback from someone on your team or within your company that you can trust. It’s helpful if that person knows both you and your boss to make an impartial assessment.
Schedule time to talk with your boss at a time where distractions will be at a minimum. Don’t run through a list of your complaints and place blame on other team members or your boss. That won’t go well. Show gratitude for their time and support and let them know that you’re committed to the team and to the business. Be honest about your feelings and give credit to the fact that you may not have a complete picture about the business or about your performance. Express that you want to understand their expectations, clear the air, and move forward positively and on common ground.
Option two: Start looking for a job.
This option is for those who are confident they have their finger on the pulse and their boss is not on their side and it’s more likely to get worse. Whether your boss doesn’t like your performance, your chemistry with the team, or your personality, the relationship will likely remain a source of friction for you day in and day out. Unless you can find a new team or transfer to a different department, you’re not likely going to last long.
An internal transfer might work if the company is big enough. This depends on whether or not there’s an appropriate position available/open, and your reputation is solid (this assumes you also like the company and the work you do). Unless your boss moves up or out, their dislike and distrust of you will plague you and may damage your reputation and stunt your career growth. It’s time to start looking for something new. Just remember, don’t settle for the next thing because you’re desperate to get out of your current position.
Option three: Take a hard look in the mirror and be honest with yourself.
Have you done anything to lose your bosses trust? Is your performance below average? Are your wins treated differently than others wins? Are your expectations for recognition or praise reasonable? Does your manager give praise to others and not you or are they someone that is not good at giving compliments or doling out praise? This last one is tough medicine to swallow, but some people accept responsibility and take ownership of their actions and inactions better than others.
Remember, you behave as you believe so when you go through the day feeling and thinking that your boss is out to get you, you’re not going to bring your A game and your unhappiness or lack of engagement and investment in the job and in the company will decline and self-perpetuate.
Eli Howayeck (MBA, Kellogg School of Management), Founder and CEO of Crafted Career Concepts, is passionate about helping motivated people achieve their career, educational, or personal goals and helping businesses, large and small, overcome a variety of challenges facing their business.