What to Do When You and Your Boss Aren’t Getting Along


In life, you can’t expect to get along with everyone all the time. But what happens when the person you’re having difficulty with shapes the terms of your employment? How do you navigate a troubled relationship with your boss?

Analyse the situation

If you want to get ahead in your career, there’s no point burying your head in the sand when there’s a problem. Before you get involved in the blame game, take a look at yourself, your role, the vision of the business and your boss, amongst other things. Is there any obvious misalignment that might be causing an issue? Are you always late? Do you always react badly to how your boss asks you to do tasks? Do you always forget to copy your boss into emails? It may well be a collection of little things. Once you are aware, you are better positioned to do something about it.

Communication is key

It’s vital that communication channels are established and used. At the very least, being able to talk to your boss gives you any opportunity to clear the air. If you don’t engage on a one-to-one basis, it’s far harder to address any issues the two of you may have and so much of your perception of the situation will be based on assumptions – sometimes correct ones, sometimes not. When you talk make sure you focus on the facts and not the emotions of the situation.

It may not be personal

Maybe your boss is going through personal issues of their own. The fact that you are in the line of fire on a daily basis doesn’t mean that it’s actually about you. The greater the empathy that you can bring to the situation, the easier it will be to walk in your boss’s shoes and to not take things personally. That’s another reason why communication is so important.

Align with your boss’s goals

By speaking to your boss you can also get a better sense of whether you are both pulling in the same direction. Part of the problem may well be that management has aspirations and expectations that you aren’t currently attuned to. Once you get clear on what goals your boss is trying to meet, focus your energies on helping them meet their targets. This can go a long way in ensuring your boss appreciates the value that you can add.

Speak to a coach

Your relationship with your boss could be collateral damage in your own internal struggles around your role or life in general. Your boss may well be able to assist, particularly if it relates to supporting you in additional training or career guidance. But it’s also worth stepping away from your environment to seek outside help. A career or life coach can assist in helping you get clear on your life goals and what you want to get out of your job.

Escalate it to a higher authority in the organisation or leave (but keep it respectful)

If you feel that there is something personal that is driving the difficulties with your boss, you could always take an official route to resolve it by approaching HR or senior management. But sometimes things simply can’t be resolved. That’s life. In those circumstances you’ve got to be prepared to take responsibility for the situation and decide as to whether it makes sense staying in your role. Your goal isn’t to burn bridges. But you’ve also got to accept that perhaps the only way forward is to remove yourself from the situation. Do so in a manner that causes the least amount of drama for all parties concerned.

Godfrey Oyeniran

Career coach, financial coach, passionate about personal transformation.

2 min read

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