Handling work and personal life can sometimes become a major challenge, even at best. And when you have to deal with a difficult boss who wants you gone, your work life could end up more stressful than ever.
Many employees worldwide face the challenges of working with a difficult boss.
While it is one thing if your boss is too disciplined and a perfectionist, it is quite another if he is just insecure and bent on making their employee’s life miserable.
Handling such managers and bosses daily could lead to stress and anxiety, and it can get challenging to work in such situations for extended periods.
Moreover, if a boss is rude or unsympathetic, they will behave the same way with all the employees.
However, the problem arises when they act professionally and cordially with everyone else, but singled out one or two employees and make their work life difficult.
The employees feel so disgruntled that they want to leave, which is precisely what the boss wants.
Why Do Employers and Bosses Feel Threatened?
A truly confident person will never feel threatened or insecure about their position.
However, not all bosses think that way. They might have climbed up the corporate ladder and attained a managerial position. Yet, deep down, they have insecurities that they cannot overcome.
These insecurities are brought to the forefront when encountering a junior employee who is highly passionate, hard-working, and talented.
They can see that the junior has all the makings of a greater leader and would rise one day to a position to claim the manager’s job or even go past them during promotions. It makes them feel inadequate.
They think about the embarrassment they would have to suffer if a junior is raised to an equal position and, in a few years, even goes past them.
To prevent that from happening, they sometimes deliberately try to make the employee’s life difficult so that they leave.
Some Signs to Help You Discern That You are a Threat to Your Boss
It is perfectly alright if your boss reprimands you from time to time for something related entirely to your work.
Strict bosses are particular about the quality of work they get from their employees and hence, can talk to you and suggest ways of improvement.
However, the signs will be very different if your boss wants to make your work life difficult, forcing you to consider quitting for good. Here are some of them.
1. Public Humiliation
One of the telltale signs that your boss feels threatened is when they start humiliating you in public too often. It is okay if they have an occasional outburst.
After all, bosses too have to handle a lot of work pressure, which can get the better of them sometimes.
However, if this keeps happening frequently, then it means that your boss feels threatened and is constantly looking for ways of exerting their power over you.
One way of doing that is by making you feel small and inadequate in front of your colleagues and other staff. Bosses know that no one wants to put up with this kind of behavior for long and hope it will be enough to make you leave.
2. Disapproves of Your Ideas
Your boss will not approve of your ideas if they feel they are too good because they feel threatened by you.
You might have delivered exactly what was required for the project and might have an excellent idea for an upcoming project. Still, the boss will keep shutting you down.
It is natural for an employee to feel demotivated if their ideas are turned down repeatedly.
Sometimes, the boss will not even give you a proper reason why your idea was turned down. They keep doing this till you feel frustrated enough to leave.
3. Not Giving Due Credit
Sometimes, your boss will approve your ideas but will take the entire credit for the concept and work when the time comes to present it before the higher management.
They will keep taking credit for your work and use it to their advantage, proclaiming that their team performed the best.
However, they will conveniently forget which team member made the highest contribution and take the entire credit.
Most junior employees do not have access to higher management and often keep quiet for fear of burning bridges with their employers.
Many employees feel disillusioned, and the boss will count on this to make them leave. However, if your contribution goes unrecognized over long periods, in that case, it will cause a dent in your career and hinder growth.
4. Overlooking Your Presence
Not being seen and heard can be mentally disturbing. Your boss may indulge in passive-aggressive behavior and overlook your presence, making you feel insecure and unimportant.
They will not greet you when you greet them as you walk past, delay replying to your emails or do not respond at all, and keep canceling your leaves when your coworkers get theirs approved pretty quickly.
All these are signs that your boss feels threatened and wants to make your life difficult.
The most concerning part about this kind of behavior is that you cannot even make a direct allegation of bad behavior in your boss’s position.
They keep doing this to you subtly while keeping themselves safe from all kinds of legal trouble with HR. The employee, however, suffers silently.
5. Not Recommending Names for Promotions
All employees work extremely hard, hoping for a promotion or an increment at the end of the work year. It is the boss’s job to recommend the names of their juniors from their team to the higher management.
However, if your boss feels threatened by you, they will never do that. They will probably even recommend the names of lesser candidates because they know they can only go so far and will not be able to challenge them in their position.
Because they feel threatened by your abilities, they keep bypassing your name so that you cannot climb up to their level.
6. Reassigning your Projects
Another thing you would notice your boss doing if they feel insecure is they would reassign all your important projects. They will probably not let you work on projects and accounts in which you would excel.
Instead, they will try to keep you busy with menial tasks and low-value projects. You won’t get a chance to show your creativity and versatility.
Moreover, by losing out on meaningful projects, you would also lose out on the opportunity to work on complex tasks that would give you more experience and hone your skills.
It would be detrimental to your career in every possible way.
7. Withholds Information
Your boss might try to withhold information from you if he feels threatened. There could be several reasons.
Your boss may feel you will lose access to critical information that can help you do better in your work. Or you could end up making errors that reflect your work performance.
You might get behind on your projects because of delays in securing information, which could jeopardize your account. Any combination of all these reasons is enough to put you in a tight spot, and you will eventually feel the need to leave.
8. Interference With Personal Life
To make work difficult for you, your boss might indirectly start interfering in your personal life, so it becomes difficult for you to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Your boss might end up piling more work on you that forces you to spend long hours, preventing you from spending quality time with your family.
You might be refused to take leaves whenever you have something important to tend to at home.
When you face issues at home because you are spending too much time at work, it can add to your stress and anxiety, making it difficult for you to concentrate.
9. Your Concerns are Ignored
When your boss feels threatened, they will try to ignore your concerns, making it difficult for you to work to your full potential.
Maybe, you expressed a request to upgrade the software for better performance or enquired about a new training program that the company was launching for the benefit of the employees.
Your employer might refuse to cooperate or keep ignoring your queries and concerns. This will eventually make you feel uncomfortable and left out.
By doing so, they would prevent you from growing in your career. You become more engrossed in finding solutions to your problems rather than concentrating on your work.
How to Deal With a Difficult and Insecure Boss?
When you feel your boss is threatened by you and displaying disturbing behaviors, it is time to assess the situation and step up your game. Here are some tips for dealing with an insecure boss.
1. Don’t Try to Undermine
If your boss feels threatened by you, then any action on your part to undermine them will only fuel their insecurities even further.
They might become so desperate that they even try to malign you and destroy your professional reputation.
Hence, do not repay them with their coin. Just focus on doing your job well rather than going after them.
If they see you are a diligent worker and are just doing your job, and you are not really after their chair, their insecurities might subside.
2. Always Be a Team Player
While your boss might be your immediate supervisor, other senior members in the vicinity often watch their team’s performance.
Hence, always try to be a team player so that everyone notices you are putting in the required effort. It will be much more difficult for your boss to overlook you when other people notice your contribution.
Not promoting you will make him look like a bad boss to others, and they might stop behaving distant from you.
3. Be Respectful and Professional
Refrain from getting into arguments. Although you might see right through your boss for what they are, always remain courteous and professional with them, no matter how they treat you.
If you get into a direct altercation with them, you will only handle the tools they need to fire you.
Always make your requests in writing rather than verbally.
Suppose a time comes when you have to report the matter to HR. In that case, you will have documented evidence that you wanted to reach out and that your emails were either ignored or were half-heartedly answered.
Be courteous with them in front of your colleagues, even if they do not acknowledge you. In other words, please do not give them reasons to complain to make it easier for them to make you quit.
Difficult bosses can lead to toxic workplaces, and it is unfortunate that your boss dislikes you because of their insecurities.
If this goes on for too long, you can learn about the company rules from your HR and speak to someone to address your concerns.
You might even try to reconcile by holding a meeting. However, if your boss continues to make things difficult for you, you must stand up for yourself and confront them privately.
Try to keep doing your best. Seeing your determination, your boss might finally relent, and you can return to doing your best.