Bosses are imperfect. There are screamers and belittlers. There are bosses who are happy hamsters one moment and angry possums the next. Still, nothing will derail your career like a boss whose main function seems to be undoing everything you accomplish. An underminer can cost you pay and promotions. So, here’s what to do when your boss undermines you.
Before addressing the issue, identify the problem. Some bosses are just ill-tempered. Remember a jerk can ruin your day but an underminer can ruin your life. If you’re included in a meeting hosted by your boss’s bosses, pay attention. Did your boss take sole credit for an idea you proposed? If something went wrong, did you become the focus for blame –– even when you aren’t responsible for the mistake? Stealing credit and shifting blame are common signs of undermining bosses.
However, there’s a good chance you’ve barely met your boss’s superiors. If you’ve been sidelined and kept out of important meetings, it’s another warning sign. Besides paying attention to how your boss describes you to superiors, notice how you are treated in front of colleagues. Are you singled out for criticism? Are you insulted? If your boss is the type to casually criticize everyone, you may not be dealing with an underminer. It’s when you’re the focus for bad behavior that you should be worried.
You may also have a hard time getting positive feedback from an undermining boss. Or you are constantly relegated to menial tasks. Remember, if your boss doesn’t regularly challenge you and increase your responsibility, it can affect your career. By now you’re wondering what to do when your boss undermines you.
Dealing With It
Bad bosses are the main reason people quit. Up to 75% of people who leave a job list a bad boss as the reason rather than the company, the work, or the lack of opportunity. It’s hard not to let bad behavior affect your work. Dealing with an underminer is exhausting. But calling in “sick” isn’t going to help anyone. Plus, you’ll be doing more than giving your boss ammunition. You’ll be proving them right!
Underminers are often insecure. If you’ve been singled out, take it as a compliment! Your talents and skills sets are a threat. Unfortunately, chances are your boss isn’t helping your ego. Remember it’s not you, it’s them. To shore up your self confidence, you’ll need an ally –– ideally someone who has witnessed your boss’s bad behavior. This trusted colleague can remind you that you are talented and your boss’s criticisms aren’t valid. From there, work on building a reputation separate from your boss. Be a team player –– the more people who know what you can do, the less chance your boss has to undermine your performance. Include your boss in decisions; ask your boss’s opinion.
In fact, it can help to consider your boss’s POV. What’s keeping your boss up at night, what are your boss’s pain points? The tendency is to make a bad boss look even worse. This won’t help anyone. Instead, play to your boss’s strengths. Take on tasks your boss hates. Do good work. Once your undermining boss realizes you are an indispensable team member, you will not only have a better chance of keeping your job but being promoted into the position you truly desire.