One day you’re the cream of the crop, on top of the world, employee numero uno. The next, you feel like an incompetent minion undeserving of the job you possess. If you’re one of the dedicated and loyal employees in this country who never knows where they stand with their significant supervisor, don’t fret, as you’re surely not alone. In fact studies suggest that well over 50 percent of the nation’s workforce hate their boss, if not their job. In honor of Saint Valentine’s Day, here are 14 signs that you may be in a love/hate professional relationship with your boss, and some tips on how to improve it.
1. They don’t listen to your concerns (He Loves Me Not) – There’s nothing worse than walking out of a meeting with your boss and feeling like you didn’t get your point across. No matter how big or small your work-related concerns are, you should always confide in your boss without the fear of “not being heard”. If this is a regular occurrence at your workplace, try approaching matters a bit differently moving forward and if things are of a serious concern, pull your boss off to the side, look them in the eye, and tell them how important the matter is to you.
2. You work independently (He Loves Me) – There are a host of articles online that argue that employers who micromanage their employees are the worst of their kind. Whether you work in a corporate environment or at an offbeat start-up, so long as you’re empowered to “own” your own work, you should embrace it. Treat each work day as a gift, for all those micro managed employees out there can tell you how good you really have it.
3. You’re overworked and/or underpaid (He Loves Me Not) – So aren’t we all these days? All joking aside, there can be a logically good reason why you’re not being compensated for the work you’re putting in. After all, we’re still considered to be operating in turbulent economic times and let’s face it, you need your job. That is, unless you’re a highly qualified professional in the world of Accounting/Medicine/IT/(insert industry in demand here). The bottom line is that if you’re feeling overworked, underpaid, or both, discuss this with your boss. Perhaps you can delegate some of the work to your associates. If you feel you are worthy of a pay raise, be prepared to receive push back when going to your boss about this. Have a list of accomplishments that support your request and understand that you may not immediately receive what you ask for. The point is that you express how you’re feeling to prevent you from bottling up your emotional stress.
4. You’re promoted at review time (He Loves Me) – Although you may not get that pat on the back for a job well done every day, you get recognized when it counts most: during your annual review. If you’re continually getting a bump in salary whenever review time rolls around, consider yourself one of the lucky ones. Some companies require their employees to work in a position for years before having the opportunity to be promoted so with that, you can give yourself some extra kudos on the way to the bank.
5. They hurt your self-esteem (He Loves Me Not) – Does your boss harp on past mistakes of yours over and over again? Have you ever felt violated about their inappropriate comments about your physique? Do you wake up with cold sweats fearing what they may say in front of a crew of co-workers the next morning? If so, you’re suffering from an SOL, supervisor who’s out-of-line. The only treatment for this is to attack your attacker head-on. Keep in mind that you should kill them with kindness. If you explain what’s ailing you in a rational, professional manner, your boss will get the point and most likely think twice the next time they haphazardly open their mouth to speak.
6. They praise you in front of your peers (He Loves Me) – Regardless of the amount of money you’re being paid, sometimes you just need to hear that the work you do matters and that you’re appreciated. If you’re ever feeling down and out on the job think about the number of times you’ve had a shout out for a kick butt job. That project you worked every weekend an entire month for? Yeah, you racked up some brownie points for that AND became the envy of the office when it was brought up in your last team meeting. The countless times you jumped in to help another department meet THEIR goals? It will probably feel great when you’re given that promotion for being able to juggle multiple tasks. Although at times it may feel as if you’re doing a thankless job, just keep doing what you’re doing and it will pay off in the long run.
7. They immediately shoot down your ideas (He Loves Me Not) – It can be horribly frustrating for an employee who has a Debbie Downer for a boss. If you dread pitching an idea because of the constant push back you receive, it’s time you rethink your strategy. If you know you’re going to be shot down, prepare a rebuttal for every possible objection that could arise. Play out the conversation in your head before entering your manager’s office. Finally, pick your battles as some things aren’t worth fighting for. However, if you’re truly passionate about an issue, confidently express how you feel with facts that support your case.
8. They ask your opinion (He Loves Me) – Contrary to the example above, if your boss consistently calls on you for advice, it shows that he or she values your opinion. It’s important that you embrace these opportunities to provide them with information that is true to how you honestly feel. Don’t sugarcoat your response simply to spare them their feelings. For example, if you think his or her idea to consolidate two vital roles in the company in to one position is total crap, tell them…but nicely, of course. For more info, refer to the part about “killing with kindness” in number 5.
9. They give preferential treatment to others (He Loves Me Not) – Ever get the feeling that exceptions are being made for everyone in your office but you? Maybe you’re crazy…or maybe not. Upper management was created for a reason and part of that reason is to ensure that operations within their department or organization run as harmoniously as possible. If there is any inconsistency in policy, procedure, leadership, you name it, you can guarantee that employee morale will plummet. If you feel that you’re being straight up wronged in your workplace, speak up and then move on.
10. They honor and encourage time off (He Loves Me) – Even though you may be thinking that you’ve earned every hour of time off you log, the fact is that many American workers don’t take all of the time they’re entitled to. This is mainly in part due to the heavy workload that will be waiting for them upon returning to the office. However study after study has revealed that play improves an employee’s productivity on the job. The saying “work hard, play hard” may not be appealing to all but if your boss is telling you to take some time off, you better dang well do it. It’ll do your mind, body, and soul some good.
11. They don’t provide proper direction (He Loves Me Not) – Let’s first get one thing straight: telling you that you have 3 projects all due yesterday is NOT proper direction. Having an unclear picture of what you’re actually supposed to be doing at work is surprisingly a common complaint among workers who are unhappy with their supervisors. You can prevent a clouded perception of your responsibilities by frequently asking questions and providing updates on the progress of your work.
12. They task you with challenging yet rewarding projects (He Loves Me) – There aren’t many successful people who wake up saying “I want to be underwhelmed at work today”. Many of us get out of bed and head to work every day intending to conquer whatever tasks and challenges come our way. Be gracious for all the assignments you’ve received and excelled at because they helped mold you in to the exceptional professional you are today. Besides, being bored at work can give you a horrible case of the munchies. To prevent you from putting on the extra poundage in your cube, volunteer to pitch in on the next big project.
13. They pressure you to do more (He Loves Me Not) – The problem with being such a highly regarded employee is that you’re always being pushed. Pushed to work harder, longer, faster… Stand your ground. Abusive relationships are toxic. If you believe that you’re being taken advantage of, just say no. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself caught in a vicious cycle and you’ll always be expected to perform at unbearable rates.
14. They pressure you to do more (He Loves Me) – No, this is not a typo. The really great leaders of the world know how to drive their employees to be all that they can be without burning them out. They love what they do and they inspire others to love what they do. By now, most of us have heard about the motivational speeches by the late Steve Jobs. Among the most popular is the following: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
You’ll also know when you’ve achieved the perfect synergy that makes a great work relationship between an employee and employer. The majority of tips for achieving a healthy relationship between you and your boss involve open communication as it’s the key to any successful relationship. And it’s not until all the elements of that relationship are working simultaneously in sync with one another, that you can truly accomplish great things. Happy Valentine’s Day!