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3 Reasons You Probably Hate Your Boss

Employee dissatisfaction is a cultural institution: TV characters gripe about their TV bosses, it's often the subject of single-panel editorial cartoons, and it's one of the easiest bonding agents for employees around the water cooler. But why? Are bosses all really that bad? Based on a recent survey, the answer may be deeper than just a general disregard for leadership.

Employee dissatisfaction is a cultural institution: TV characters gripe about their TV bosses, it’s often the subject of single-panel editorial cartoons, and it’s one of the easiest bonding agents for employees around the water cooler. But why? Are bosses all really that bad? Based on a recent survey, the answer may be deeper than just a general disregard for leadership.

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(Photo Credit: JD Hancock/Flickr)

While it may be easy to vilify a cigar-smoking, three-piece-suit wearing caricature who’s responsible for your paycheck, most Americans don’t actually have that kind of boss anymore. We have supervisors, and managers, and HR staffs rife with people who are supposed to hear, see, and relate to us on a daily basis. If you’re not happy with your boss, it’s not just because they’re out of touch; there’s something that’s relationally amiss.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

With that in mind, Harvard Business Review has just published the results of an Interact/Harris poll where they gathered the top complaints employees tend to have about leadership. You’re more than welcome to read the full list, but this article will mainly address the top three.

You may be more likely to generally hate your boss if you’re a chemist, dental hygienist, or a baker, but the following three ideas resonate throughout every field. See if they hit home for you.

Not Recognizing Employee Achievements

This is probably the first sign that your leader is out of touch. You’re putting in as much time and effort as any other employee at the firm – if not more – and yet your work goes virtually unnoticed. The reality is, you might just have a bad boss on your hands, but the other possibility is that you just need a perspective check.

As this Forbes article points out, there’s a great way that you can keep your boss in the loop on what you’re doing, and feel less overwhelmed by how underappreciated you are: focus on the results, not just the work. You may be thinking that you’ve done hours and hours of work for the company, while your boss is really only concerned with what comes of it as a result.

The best way to satiate your dissatisfaction is to paint him the whole picture.

Not Giving Clear Directions

Sometimes conversations with your boss can feel like a scene out of an Aaron Sorkin show: two people walking down the hall exchanging unbelievable fast, witty dialogue, and then walking away with a perfect understanding of what’s next – except if you’re like this writer, you have to pause and re-watch the scene five times to remember the specifics of any given instruction.

This is going to involved a tactful conversation. Try to work out a system with your supervisor where you can double down on directions. Start with a follow-up email after a meeting: “Just to confirm, you’ve asked me to go ahead and do X, and communicate with Y person on this.”

Keep it short and sweet, but a little extra confirmation never hurts.

Not Having Time To Meet With Employees

That last one is going to be hard if they’re never accessible. Sure, some bosses are that fast-talking White House press secretary, but how many are the president, whom you feel like you haven’t seen in three episodes? West Wing references aside, an inaccessible boss is a hard challenge to overcome.

You need someone to whom you can answer. If your boss “doesn’t have time for you,” then they’re only lying to themselves. Whether it means switching to a different supervisor, or simply having that delicate conversation, don’t let a problem like this sit for long. It will only affect the quality of your work more with each passing day.

Tell Us What You Think

What are your solutions to dealing with these common complaints? We want to hear from you! Comment below or join the conversation on Twitter.

Peter Swanson
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