help! my new boss hates me

A reader writes:

I’ve always had managers who liked my work, but my old boss left a few months ago and her replacement just doesn’t seem to like me. She gets along well with my coworkers, but nothing I do seems right with her. She seems annoyed when I try to talk to her, shoots down my ideas, and has started leaving me out of important meetings I used to be included in. I know this will affect my career if I don’t resolve it, but I’m not sure what I can do.

When the person who’s currently in charge of your career actively dislikes you and freezes you out, that’s a dangerous place to be. Managers have an enormous amount of control over your career, from what projects you get to what professional opportunities and recognition you receive to how secure your job is. A manager who dislikes you can hold you back in ways that can have a long-term impact on your career (as well as simply making your daily life at work unpleasant).

You can’t change the situation overnight, but here are five ways you can regain some control over the situation and hopefully turn it around.

1. Ask your manager for feedback on how you could perform better. Giving a person who dislikes you this sort of open invitation to criticize you may feel counterintuitive, but if your manager can articulate specific concerns, it’s in your best interest to hear them. Plus, it’s possible that your manager might have some legitimate complaints. So listen with an open mind and see if any of her feedback is actionable for you.

2. Address it head-on. While asking for feedback tackles one piece of the issue, you also have the option of addressing the bigger picture directly, by professionally and calmly asking about how she’s treating you. When you’re doing this, your tone will be important; you don’t want to be aggrieved, accusatory or victimized, but rather concerned and collaborative — the same tone you might use in addressing a less personal business problem.

Try saying something like, “[Name], I have the sense you’re not happy with my work. You’ve sounded irritated with me several times recently, and I haven’t been included in meetings with the rest of the team. I really want us to have a strong working relationship. If there are things you’d like me to be doing differently, I’d be grateful to know.”

3. Cultivate a strong network of other colleagues. Your relationships with other people in your office will matter now more than ever. You might be able to forge connections with them that will minimize the impact your boss’s dislike has on you — and people who like you and know you to be impeccably professional and competent will be less likely to be swayed by any negativity from your manager. Plus, they can be strong references when you’re looking for your next job.

4. Say nice things about your boss in a way that’s likely to get back to her. Yes, this is a little Machiavellian, but the situation may call for it — and it’s hardly a crime to say kind things about someone. The reality is that people tend to like people who like them; discovering that someone you dislike has been saying flattering things about you can cause a change in perspective. Why not use that to your advantage?

5. Start polishing up your resume. Ultimately, if your boss dislikes you and nothing you do changes that, your best bet may be to get yourself out of the situation by moving to a different job. You’re far better off working for someone who will champion you, rather than thwart you.

This post originally appeared at DailyWorth.

{ 88 comments… read them below }

  1. Lamington*

    This happened recently at work. my boss hated the temp with a passion. No matter what the temp tried feedback, having coworkers or other managers reviewed her work, it was always rebuffed with a no. the temp got praise from other groups but never from my boss. she decided to leave after 6 months and it was a big loss for the team. My boss didn’t wish her or even send an email communication acknowledging her leave.

    1. EE*

      That reminds me of a higher-up who hated me and was the only person in the office to not congratulate me on my marriage.

      I don’t promote insincerity as a rule but it takes very little effort to say “Heard the news – congratulations.”

  2. Celeste*

    I don’t know what possesses so-called leaders to carry on like this. I’m sorry that you’re dealing with this, and I hope it gets better one way or another.

    1. some1*

      This happened to me at two jobs (boss left and I got a new boss who didn’t like me). In my case, both bosses were supervising for the first time. I think they felt like they had to mictomanage and resented not having a team they got to hire. Also, they didn’t realize how damaging playing favorites would be.

      1. Celeste*

        This is what I mean–why take a management job if you’re going to be bent out of shape that you didn’t get to hire your team? If you ascend in management, you won’t have hired all of those new people under you, either. Isn’t this just…the job you were hired to DO?

        /end rant/

        1. J-nonymous*

          What I’ve noticed is that bad managers (or simply inexperienced ones, myself included in my early days), don’t know how to work with people they didn’t select for the job. I know a program manager who said to me once, “All my projects would go great if I could just clone myself” – hallmark of a poor manager.

          But the truth was, I had those same biases about people on my teams that I didn’t hire. From my perspective, it was much easier for me to relate to and motivate people who responded to challenges and opportunities the same way I did, and in turn I selected for those qualities when I hired people into my team (or selected them for projects). I never intended to make other people feel crappy about being on the team if they didn’t think / work the same way I did, but I *know* that was the effect I had.

          I was really fortunate to have a boss who gave me constructive and meaningful feedback along the way. I’m sure my biases still exist in there (I mean, I do still look for a lot of the same qualities in applicants that I always have), but I’ve learned how to recognize when those are coming to the forefront and (hopefully) how to work with people whose working styles are different from my own, especially when they’ve been on the team longer than I have.

          1. Vicki*

            I had one of “those” managers. When I was trying to figure out what was going one, I met with another manager who had worked with mine for years. Her comment: “He’s never been good with people”.


            1. Fish Microwaver*

              That sort of comment really grinds my gears. “Excellent interpersonal communication” is the topmost essential selection criterion in my field and so many managers have the interpersonal skills of a boot.

          2. Sam*

            You should not be a boss . People have enough going on in their lives to deal with unprofessional conduct from a higher up.

  3. Adam*

    I went through this once in a part-time job. I wasn’t doing well and my boss was a micro-managing watch-you-like-a-hawk type, which made me nervous as hell which led to me screwing up even more. It became a chicken and egg deal at some point. My only recourse was to grin and take it for as long as I needed to, then politely resign and run for the hills.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

      The one who was like this to me had a habit of running down my predecessor, which made it even worse. I shudder to think what she said about me after I quit. Lucky I wasn’t there long enough to bother putting it on my resume.

  4. Katie the Fed*

    Earlier today a colleague from a different office showed up at my desk in tears asking if she could talk to me.

    Her boss is singling her out and really engaging in bullying behavior. She’s very competent and a hard worker but she has a very strong personality that definitely rubs some people the wrong way, so I think that’s playing into it.

    So I talked to her and tried to get her to focus on the issues at hand and what she wants to happen. She’s talked to his boss about it, so I told her to give his boss some time to address it and that she won’t know if it’s being handled right away. I told her she also needs to make sure her own behavior is absolutely above reproach and be polite and pleasant at all times so that if she has to go back up the chain of command later he can’t point to anything she did to make the situation worse.

    It’s a rough situation to be in :(

    1. MaryMary*

      Beyond using your network to back you up (or serve as references if need be), they might also be able to help you find another position in the company where you’re no longer reporting to the same boss. Depending on your role and company, it might be easier than you think to make a lateral move and get yourself out of the situation.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Yeah. Unfortunately she loves what she does and wants to stay there. :(

    2. LJL*

      I’ve been there, and it’s a terrible place to be. I handled the situation just like you suggested. In the end, the boss’s boss did nothing, but others noticed. I’m in a far better place now. It took a long time, but eventually it DID get better. :-)

    3. Jeanne*

      A bullying boss is beyond horrible. I hope the company actually decides to address the situation. So many companies side with the bully and lose good talent.

      1. anon-2*

        Remember, companies have to “back the manager” — and unless the company is facing loss of a major customer or business (seen that happen) – or – realizes that the manager’s action has prompted civil or criminal complaints (seen that happen) – or – the manager has created a situation where there’s a major public relations/image stink (yes, that too!) —

        The company will do nothing. They have to back the manager and also allow him/her to save face.

        1. Esra*

          That’s not always true. A change in leadership can prompt change, or in the case of somewhere I used to work: a management duo lost too many good people on their team, and were both let go. It depends on the value the organization puts on morale and retention.

        2. Katie the Fed*

          That’s not necessarily true, and I know her boss’s boss well. I am pretty sure he’s addressing it, but it probably won’t be fixed overnight and she will probably never know what disciplinary action was or wasn’t taken.

        3. Cautionary tail*

          Yes. I’ve seen where a first level supervisor mistakenly assumed a worker under her did something wrong and fired the person on the spot. When the worker went to the 2nd level manager, all he heard was “I wasn’t there and I hired the supervisor to run things. If she said you did something and fired you then I have to support her.”

    4. Danielle*

      I’m in the same situation as your friend right now. Only I got called in for a “meeting” trying to force me to quit yesterday – with the manager who’s just straight up mean, and seems to single me out through micro-managing and sometimes contrived mistakes. She flat up told me I’m not good at x job that they hired me for, although they actually hired me for a completely different job and I wouldn’t have accepted the position if I’d known they were hiring me for something that requires a skillset I can tell you right now I don’t have and would set me up for failure. Before basically asking me to quit she tried to be nice and ask if there’s anything they can do to support me, etc., the usual bullshit – I knew what was coming but didn’t want to argue and I think I messed up even more. I’m not sure what to do….but it seemed like I was pitted to not win, so I did what your coworker did somewhat. I mentioned how I’m aware I’m not good at x job, and would prefer to work at y job in the skillset I have experience in and am consistently good at, and if they don’t think they need me there I’d like to try to transfer to the store walking distance from where I live (who mentioned they needed more people doing y job the last time I was in). She was all for getting rid of me that way, so hopefully it works out, but they scheduled me for zero hours next week so I’m at wit’s end. If all goes well I’ll be reporting to a different manager, who I know and who I know likes me, if not I think I’m fired? Or I might have to put in an I quit email? I’m not sure either if I take off to study full time for the next year or so, how I would bring up this resume gap in interviews. Background checks would obviously bring them to calling that manger and asking about me – which isn’t good if she hates me so much.

      I’m just beyond done with a boss who’s bullying me at every turn, setting me up for failure, and just overall being horrible. I know I work for them and not the other way around, but it’s so distressing that the opinion of one boss who hates me negates the numerical data of good work I’ve been doing and how coworkers openly say they love working with me. :/

  5. BadPlanning*

    Would it be appropriate to literally use the phrase, “I feel like we got off on the wrong foot” — it’s a bit cliche, but I think it happens. Maybe the OP said or did something that rubbed the new manager the wrong way — or heard something through the grapevine — and it completely colored the new manager’s perspective.

    1. Del*

      I would avoid a phrase like that unless you have a specific incident you’re referring to. Otherwise, it might come off like you don’t think the boss has any really valid ongoing concerns related to the work at hand.

  6. Ash (the other one!)*

    This, exactly, is why I had to leave my last job. My boss felt threatened by me (no, seriously, the fact I had my PhD and was up for a very prominent award was seriously threatening to him) and did everything he could to push me down. I miss that job terribly, but he and I would never be able to work well together.

    1. WorkingAsDesigned*

      This is an example of the old adage that people are hired by companies, and leave because of managers.

      Sorry that it didn’t work out, since you miss your old job so much. I hope that your new job is great!

      1. Ash (the other one!)*

        New job is not great… been trying to leave for a good 6 months now. My manager here is better than the boss I left, but doesn’t manage me at all (super frustrating, I can tell you he has no idea what I do on a daily basis even when I try to tell him). I’m not leaving in tears and feeling like I need a cigarette (and I’ve never been a smoker) like I was with the previous boss though. Current job is just not a great fit and has little room for advancement despite promises made when I was hired.

    2. Juni*

      Ugh, been there. Got my CFRE, which is a huge deal to a fundraiser, and his response was, “Oh, so you think you’re better than me now? Well, don’t forget who your boss is.”

      1. Esra*

        Oh my god, I think we worked for the same awful manager. So insecure, no idea how to motivate and retain people.

  7. Lora*

    Ugh. Last job. New boss and I hated each other on first sight. Like love on first sight, except with a nauseating, angry, despairing feeling instead. Mostly, just run.

    And yeah, it was a new manager who had never managed anybody older or more experienced than him. Everyone who quit or got fired (which was 2/3 the team in the first year of his employment) was replaced with someone (male) fresh out of college. HR wasn’t too impressed with him either…

    1. Tiffany In Houston*

      It’s like one of those nature shows where the male animal will eat the offspring of another male..I truly believe that a manager who inherits a staff of people will truly find a way sooner or later to hire their own folks.

      1. Cautionary tail*

        Been there. My department and another department were merged into one. The other manager got the top spot and laid me off within a week. He made life difficult for everyone who had worked for me and they are now all gone too.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        That’s kind of what happened at Exjob. New Veep came in and part of his job was to restructure things–which meant cuts, cuts, cuts. After my coworker and I were cut, we heard later that a whole bunch of the old team had been let go. One was a bully manager, but they also cut one of the best managers they had–someone who busted his butt to run his department right, and his entire team loved him. :(

        All of us who left are much better off than we were. :)

    2. Artemesia*

      I worked in a place where we had championed a new program against the opposition of higher ups and finally won a beachhead when the CEO was replaced — the new guy basically trashed anything, any initiative that he himself had not initiated — and his minions were mindless twits who implemented without question so it didn’t matter that our wonderful project that would have been good for the organization hadn’t even been the brainchild of the last CEO who had pretty much opposed it also but had finally let it be.

      Nothing more enervating than having a top boss who sends out flying monkeys to stomp on anyone who has an idea not his own. Very dispiriting place to work. This was a non-profit and the ideas he trashed were making the organization more effective — but they weren’t his.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        This is the exact opposite of how you should be as a boss. I don’t care where a good idea comes from or who has it–if it’s good, it makes sense to do it.

    3. AnotherAlison*


      It was the worst. I had taken an internal position that was newly created & two months in, they hired THAT GUY and inserted him above me. In my case he was older, so that wasn’t an issue, but there were so many other issues.

      My situation resolved (sort of) when I got promoted to a parallel position instead of reporting to him, but it really has never fully resolved because we no longer communicate but work on the same stuff.
      (You say dys, I say function, dys-function, dys-function!)

      In hindsight, I would have resolved this asap, whatever it took. I would have went back to my former internal position immediately. I’ve put in 6 yrs, because this is the dept. and stuff I really wanted to work on and just when I would get fed up, a change would come (like the parallel reporting) and I’d be tricked into putting in more time. . . but as we speak, I am abt to transfer, finally.

    1. Chriama*

      Wow, that one was intense. MF generally has a whole lot of extremists and a few good moderates, so I hope the OPs know how to differentiate the good from the bad. I really want to refer them to this blog!

  8. Tiffany In Houston*

    This also happened to me as well. My boss inherited my team. I got written up 3 months after I started working for him and henceforth immediately started looking for a new job. There were several other meetings with HR and I got fired. When I got fired I got severance and was marked eligible for re-hire by the company which let me know it was a “fit” issue, more or less. I’d been rated superior the year before on my review by my previous manager. Of the 4 people that were on my team, 2 people have left the company and my position is has been filled twice, by contractors. The first contractor quit too.

    I’d wish I’d had these tips because I think I handled the situation poorly. I tried talking to my boss but he was not receptive to providing constructive feedback. I think I just shut down after that. I kept performing at a decent level and got positive feedback from other team members and our vendors but I was so stressed out, that it was a relief to be fired.

  9. Ann Furthermore*

    My advice is this: lengthen your fuse. I was in this situation. Got a new boss, and he and I disliked each other right from the start. In a couple of meetings and/or one-on-ones, we disagreed on some things and then I ended up shooting my mouth off. He was a colossal jerk, but I behaved badly too, and I’ve often wondered if we could have figured out a way to get along if I had not let my temper get the best of me and said things that could not be un-said. And on top of all that, I was pregnant at the time, and therefore much more emotional than normal. That certainly did not help things at all.

    MaryMary’s suggestion of looking for other positions in your company is really good. This is how I resolved my bad boss situation. I was getting ready to go on maternity leave, and my plan was to take my 8 weeks of disability, and then use up all my vacation time looking for another job. I knew my days in that position were numbered. But then, a position opened up in another group, doing the kind of work I’d been wanting to get back into anyway. I was friendly with the manager of that team, and she was pleased that I was interested. So it all worked out for the best. I was able to stay with my company, which was great because I really do like it, and I’ve now been in this position for longer than I was in my old one.

    And I do think Alison’s advice here is spot-on, as always, especially about directly asking your boss for feedback. Yes, it will probably be an unpleasant and uncomfortable conversation, but like she said, your boss may have some legitimate concerns about your work, and it’s to your advantage to hear about them. Plus, being proactive and making an effort, rather than skulking around avoiding her, and/or being defensive, may buy you some credibility with her and you might be able to turn things around.

    1. anon-2*

      “MaryMary’s suggestion of looking for other positions in your company is really good.”

      Yeah but sometimes it backfires. I spoke of a fellow worker who did that — and the manager wanted to stop it — the manager had contempt for this person, yet, when the employee was tapped for, and interviewed for, and accepted another (lateral) position – the manager jumped in and attempted to stop it.

      Even going so far as to threaten to put the employee on “retroactive probation” in a futile, stupid attempt to stop the transfer. I think the manager viewed her worker’s opportunity as an undermining move.

      Now – “retroactive probation”… I am not a lawyer, so I wouldn’t know if such a move is actually legal — the employee became pro-active and issued an ultimatum – “I either go to the new position or out the door”… she got the new position.

      1. Malissa*

        I used that ultimatum once. It was back in my retail days and I got a store manager that was quite a tool. Didn’t like me because I had a sexual harassment complaint in my file against a coworker. Said coworker was fired for other reasons before this manager showed up. Anyway after he read my file, out loud, to everybody in the store. I started looking for an escape.
        The manager got wind that I was looking at possibly trading with a person at another store. He threw a fit. A grown man temper tantrum. I called his boss, who loved my work, and told him I was either going to work in another store tomorrow or I was not going to be working for the company.
        The next two years of my career at that company I got to be the person who went into the stores and made them showroom awesome again. I loved it!

  10. Dennis*

    I worked for a boss that hated me from day one. She was an insecure, neurotic, venomous witch.

    I stayed working for her for 10 years. She retired several years ago and I’m still here. I decided to stick it out and wait.

    1. UrbanGardener*

      That’s my boss. She’s a bad manager who thinks she’s a great manager, and an awful micromanager. She’s 15 years older than me, and I love my job and want to retire from it, so I’m trying to predict when she will retire. She always thinks people are talking about her, too, and has no friends so she tries to force us to do after work things with her.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        “has no friends so she tries to force us to do after work things with her”

        UGH! Now that has to be the pits!

    2. Cautionary tail*

      I was formally asked to be the jerk boss once. A company, after the 2nd interview, offered me the position and said my first task was to get rid of the entire department and staff it with my own people. I declined the position and the huge salary bump it would have entailed. My integrity and ethics weren’t for sale.

  11. Lia*

    I have seen this several times, and to be truthful, the best thing to do is to get out on your own terms. At one job, the new director systematically purged and replaced every single direct report over the course of about two years. The end result was a team she did hire entirely herself, but it was a net loss for the company to lose so much institutional knowledge — and other departments lost respect for her area, too.

    1. UrbanGardener*

      That happened to me once. Luckily, it was a part time job while I finished grad school, and was living with my parents so I had no real expenses. The department manager had been fired the day I started for gross incompetence, and it took about 6 months to find a replacement. He immediately focused on me as someone he could get rid of, and brought in a surprise new hire. Seriously, we walk in on Monday and there was a new person sitting there we didn’t know anything about.

      He tells me she will assist me, and I should teach her everything I do. I tell him I don’t need an assistant, and he insists. Luckily I recognized what he was doing and was already looking for a full time job since my Master’s Degree was almost done. After I trained her, he claimed he had no more money in the budget for part time work, after he had just hired yet another full time person.

  12. Lily in NYC*

    Looks like we’ve all been there at least once. And it sucks! I got mean-girled out of a great job at Sports Illustrated by a manager who had just been promoted into the job and she didn’t like that I had more experience than she did and that I was being groomed for another management position in the dept that was higher level than hers. It was the only time in my work-life where I actually had someone tell lies about me to the big boss (like that I rolled my eyes at the boss or made a negative comment about her, ridiculous stuff that never happened). I got fired for the fake stuff she said I did and surprise surprise, she hired her best friend from Sports Illustrated Women, which we had just shut down because it was losing so much money. I still have regenge fantasies about that stupid hoser.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      Wow, I just checked the SI masthead out of curiosity, and she is still there in the same exact role she had 10 years ago! No promotion at all! Karma’s a b!tch.

  13. Rebecca*

    About a year and a half ago, my manager hired someone for our office, a very qualified person, pleasant, hard working, picked up quickly on everything – we were so happy! I worked with her one on one for about two months training her. She was great. But, because she wasn’t my manager’s first choice (another manager trumped her choice), she rode her to the point she was frequently reduced to tears. New hire asked me what she was doing wrong, and I had no idea. I asked my manager what was going on, since I couldn’t see the same things, and manager said that she was just joking around, and new hire was taking things too personally. I pleaded with her to please take a hard look at how she was treating her, but to no avail.

    One day, she walked out in the middle of the work day and didn’t come back for her things. She called me from the parking lot, sobbing, and said she just couldn’t face our manager for another day.

    So – manager is still here, and then she hired a dolt, who is still here, but manager fawns all over her. And the rest of us missed out on having a highly productive colleague.

    I hate how managers act sometimes.

      1. Jeanne*

        In my experience, same difference. Bullies rise to become managers. Managers learn to be bullies. The last time I knew a “good” manager I was in college working at Kentucky Fried Chicken. He was a rare bird. I wish I wasn’t this cynical but I just have never found a place where they don’t turn a blind eye to bullying.

    1. UrbanGardener*

      When I got my job, the choice was between me and another person, and my boss wanted that other person, while the rest of the staff wanted me, because boss thought the other person was “more interesting” because he was a performer in his spare time and had so much going on in his life. My colleagues pointed out they needed to hire someone to do a job, not be interesting, and they all thought I was better qualified. Luckily they talked her into it. I have issues with her, but I’m looking to stick it out to her retirement.

  14. Not So NewReader*

    OP, figure out if you can see like-able things in your boss.

    I had a coworker and a boss that were probably my closest people at work but they could not stand each other.
    And it all started with each one of them saying they thought the other one did not like them.

    For example: The employee kept saying “I don’t think the boss likes me.” Rather than figuring out if she liked the boss her focus was totally about whether the boss liked her today or not.

    Sadly, the boss had the same running dialog.

    It was an unending circle. Nobody won.

    They both ended up hating each other simply because they were totally convinced the other one hated first. I could not convince them to stop the circular thinking. “Why don’t you find out if she hates you rather than just assuming??” No, neither one of them could do that.

    If you chose to go in for the conversation to address this find positive things to say. “I really liked how you revamped X procedure, it goes so much better now.” OR “I overheard you talking with that client the other day and I wanted you to know I was impressed with how you handled that tough situation.”

    She needs to see you with your guard down, OP. It could be as simple as she sees you talking and joking with others but you never talk and joke with her. This reminds her that she is the newbie which raises her discomfort higher than it usually is. You may have to point blank say “I am here to help you.”

    I do agree that there is a chance that you might have to move on to another job. Sometimes this the ONE good thing a boss can give us: our new and better job.

  15. Joey*

    This might be splitting hairs, but polishing up your résumé only because you THINK you boss doesn’t like you is premature. I know many many times bosses are just tough on everyone, have a particularly high work product standard, or are just not as warm as one is used to. Frequently, this thinking is just a misunderstanding. I wouldn’t assume I need to polish up my résumé until I’m fairly certain I don’t have the wrong impression.

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      It never hurts to keep your resume updated. You never know. I think the point here is to be ready in case things don’t get better.

      1. De Minimis*

        A lot of the things the OP mentions could be chalked up to misunderstanding, but being left out of meetings is not a good sign.

      2. Joey*

        Absolutely, but keeping it polished and actively polishing it specifically because of your current situations are different things.

    2. kac*

      As I posted down-thread, I am on my way out of exactly this situation. If you generally have a good read on people, I think it’s worth trusting your instincts. I spent 8 months trying to convince myself that I must be wrong, this must just be his way, etc. And it culminated in my soon-to-be-former boss calling me up and yelling at me (for asking questions) and his boss (with whom I have always been close) confiding in me that my current boss, in fact, has never liked me.

      I may not have left any sooner, but I would have alleviated some pressure off myself if I recognized the truth of my current working situation sooner and used the knowledge to just let go of some of the toxicity of the whole thing.

      1. Camellia*

        So your boss’s boss told you that your boss doesn’t like you? And he is not managing that situation? He just let you be driven off?

        I hope I am misunderstanding what you are saying because, if that is the case, that is truly appalling.

  16. Snarkus Ariellius*

    Curious what alison thinks of this tactic.

    I’ve been in the op’s shoes more than once. Fed up with all the meaningless, contradictory, vague feedback, I asked a coworker, who was in good with the boss, to switch our names on written work. She agreed just to see what would happen.

    Surprise, surprise. The boss still gushed over my coworker’s memos, written by me, and hated my stuff, written by coworker. Kit was hilarious listening to the boss give feedback because everyone else in the office knew.

    That’s when I realized it was all personal and not about my work. No matter what, the boss was going to hate. No other option than to quit.

    My hunch is the op will too.

  17. ThursdaysGeek*

    In my case, we suspected the problem with the new boss was that I was female. My two male co-workers would meet with him when he came into town, but he only seemed to show up when I wasn’t around. He told them about proposed raises of 7-10%. He was upset when my team lead mentioned that to me, and finally found a time to speak to me, mentioned a raise of 3-5% (it came through at 2%). The peer had been earning just a bit more than me when I started (same work, I had more experience, he had been at that company longer), and was suddenly $6K higher (that 7-10% raise after a position adjustment). They urged me to find a different job, and then we all three left.

    It wouldn’t have hurt to have Alison’s advice, but in that case, I’m not sure how much help it would have been.

  18. kac*

    May 14th is my last day in exactly this situation. I’m sorry; it can be very painful and is all too common.

    All the executives at my company, including my former boss, were very open about how well they thought I was doing, my future at the company, my leadership potential, etc. But my new boss came along, and he immediately had a *very* different read on me. I tried all sorts of ways to win his favor, including asking for and incorporating his feedback, really thinking about what I could be doing better/what I might be doing to reinforce his negative perception of me, taking the initiative to address unresolved work projects, working to boost moral/redirect conversation into positive territory when other colleagues were complaining about this new boss, and spend more time practicing “letting things go.”

    These are all very good things to do, but honestly, if your boss openly dislikes you despite doing your best work, GET OUT. A manager who dislikes you will get into your head in a serious way, and if you are like most people you will struggle to do your best work–which will of course both reinforce your boss’s negative opinion and will bring down your own self-esteem. Sometimes for whatever reason two people just don’t click, and all the requests for feedback and good-faith efforts at doing your best can’t always fix that.

    Good luck; don’t let it get in your head and move on to your next great career adventure.

    1. Lynn Whitehat*

      Yeah, it can be a real vicious circle. Your boss doesn’t trust you to do good work, doesn’t back you up with other people, doesn’t give you interesting work, micromanages the work you do have, and then you actually can’t do your best work. And then that reinforces their opinion of you, and round and round you go in a death spiral. It can damage your ability to get an internal transfer because you haven’t been doing anything all that great and your current boss won’t vouch for you.

      You can try #1-4, and you should, but at some point you’re better off to cut your losses because you’ll just get deeper into a hole.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        It’s a horrible cycle, and one I never understand. As a manager, you will sometimes have to manage people you may not like. Period. As a good manager, you need to separate the PERSON from the WORK and be able to objectively focus on their work no matter what your personal feelings may be.

        Of course I’ve often found that when managers single out someone, they often only want to bring in a relative or buddy for that slot.

  19. Diane*

    I’m gobsmacked by how many people have been in this same situation.

    I’m in the same boat, but my last day is coming up soon, and I feel far less stress now than I have since my boss started, over a year ago. Like other posters, I tried a dozen different approaches to find out what she expected. She fundamentally misunderstood my role and refused to listen to me. If I mentioned a problem to her, she blamed me. If I made recommendations, she shot me down. She put me on a workplan. HR was no help. Upper management was no help. My colleagues universally praised my work and professionalism. Now my coworkers are afraid to speak up because they’re afraid for their own jobs.

    I’m leaving soon, and nobody is cross-trained in my very specialized functions. It will cost the organization millions of dollars. I’m leaving a desk manual, and I’m doing my best to help my colleagues until I leave with grace and professionalism.

  20. Been there*

    Leave, don’t hesitate. This happened to me. There was “too much of the old boss” on me. I ended up being let go. Leave before she fires you.

  21. Limon*

    Count me in, has happened to me. Same story, same ending.

    In my current position I have been practicing working on how to win over a supervisor who is not very helpful and will openly say undermining and even critical or insulting things. Sadly, he has smiled broadly at my mistakes and frowned at my successes. Nice!

    But the overall supervisor of us all is fantastic and so I defer to her. I decided to practice different approaches for how to handle someone who actively doesn’t like you. What I have found sadly, is that he wants to be loved and to feel important. So, that’s what I do. I smile, listen and tell him nice things about himself. You can always find something nice about someone, especially when it is a research project like this is.

    I don’t think I will ever trust him, but I have learned alot and he seems to like me now quite alot. This has been a very important experience for me, and I have been successful in my job as well.

    Great topic!

    1. KissAs*

      Yep. I’ve learned to ask questions, nod encouragingly…agree, agree, agree. I sound like a freaking PC greeting card. Pathetic- sad how much a bad manager can sacrifice a company at the alter of their ego. But when upper management doesn’t care- why the hell should I? I look out for me. Lesson learned, taught to me by my manager.

      1. Ruffingit*

        You cannot care more than the company owner does. That is sort of my motto for things like this. If the owner/upper management/whomever is in charge doesn’t care, then why should I? If I don’t have a direct stake in the company financially then it’s not my problem if it is run poorly, inefficiently, etc.

  22. Henry Gondorf*

    I think there’s a big difference between a boss who you just don’t gel with and one who actively dislikes you and treats you with malice or spite. I have definitely worked for the latter kind and it was beyond miserable. He made up performance improvement goals for me that were mathematically impossible, didn’t tell me about projects I needed to be participating in and then panicked when I tried to get looped in on the advice of more senior people, demanded I cc him on every email I sent, etc. Oh, and he was spectacularly lazy to the point where he’d leave the office for three hours every afternoon to watch movies in the lounge.

    I lasted 6 months before I was able to laterally transfer into another role at a different site. At month 5, I talked to another manager at my boss’s level and asked for advice. He said very one knew my boss was an asshole and he was impressed I’d made it 5 months already. It was awful. Oh! And he never told his superiors I was leaving and they showed up looking for me after I’d left. “Where’s Henry?” “Transferred to X job.” “What do you mean transferred!?” (As it was relayed to me by a colleague who stayed)

    All of which is to say: it stinks and keeping your head down and getting out is often your best bet.

  23. AnonyNYC*

    I had this happen. My old boss retired and the person named to replace her was working in his first office job — in his 50s. He couldn’t decide between taking credit for our work or trying to keep us looped out & get us fired.

    We lost a good team member four months into his tenure. BUt luckily he only lasted a year and I’m still there four years later.
    I hope it works out in the end for you, OP

  24. Rosemarie*

    I know what you are going through. I love my job; but from I completed my first degree it started and got worst while I was doing my masters. It was so bad that I waited 3 years after getting my masters for her to see it. There have been lies, sabotage and no commendation for achievements (i can live without them). I am beginning to think that she is just plain evil.

  25. Mpho*

    My boss hate me to an extent that she cant even control him self in front of my colleagues. He turn to make noise to me in front of them, He got a good relationship with them and when they having good times he turn to tell them that he going to fire me am one step away. And now am a joke in the office. everyone is whispering about me.He is the ower of the company what must i actually do.

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