Your job might suck for a lot of reasons, and most of those reasons are likely valid. Your company culture might be terrible—like so many work environments—or, you may be working on projects you don’t like. You might not make what you deserve, you might work longer hours than you want, and you might even be forced to live somewhere you don’t care for.
But one main reason for job hatred seems to trump all others—you just don’t like your bosses. People tell me this constantly. Studies show it, too. Bosses are at least a perceived very big problem at a lot of companies, for a lot of staff.
When I hear stories from the hundreds of startups and companies I’ve helped grow, though, this sentiment is usually followed by some version of:
“I just really want to find my next thing. My boss will never change.” Or, “I just wish my boss would leave. Once that happens, things will be so much better.” Or, “Things are okay right now, but once I move projects and to a new team, things will get a lot better.”
Another way of saying it? I hear people giving up.
Don’t get me wrong. There are times when it’s very important to give up and move on. If we truly can’t be effective in our current situation, it’s time to go. But, I see far too many people throwing in the towel before really doing their part to try and make things better, and this attitude often has a lot to do with your perspective, and your personal sense of accountability.
As for me, I personally believe that whoever you are and no matter what role you’re in, you can change at least one thing to make your job better. You have much more control over your environment than you realize. Said another way, you can control the relationship you have with your boss. So, here are the myths that people most often mention as the biggest areas they struggle with their bosses. Once you work through these, it often helps to make your job suck a lot less.
Common Boss Myths
Myth 1: My boss should change so that I can enjoy my job.
This is number one on my list for a reason—I hear it more often than anything else. I hear people say, repeatedly, that their boss is either an idiot, ineffective, or both. And, that their boss needs to do or change “X” in order for something to shift.
What’s behind this myth is a belief that our bosses are the root cause of our unhappiness. That, if only our boss would change their behavior, everything would be okay. The problem is, it’s almost never true.
I think about this a lot in terms of my relationship with my wife. I’ll—often—go home and say to myself, “If only Ashley did this certain thing differently, I would be happier.” Unfortunately, Ashley changing her behavior isn’t going to drastically change my happiness. Yes, my life may be easier or a little bit better, but my core happiness cannot (and should not) be dependent on her.
It’s the same with your boss. If you put all of your hope in your boss to make you happy, you’ll inevitably be let down. They are imperfect people who are working through their own stuff. So, you have to start with the belief that it’s ultimately up to you to pave the path to happiness at your job. If you start here—if you believe that it’s up to you to pave the way for your happiness—you can actually start dealing with everything else I mention below.
Myth 2: My boss should know when I’m frustrated.
Your boss can’t read your mind as much as you think they can. Your boss can’t know when a client is a jerk to you. They can’t know that a colleague isn’t pulling their weight. They sometimes can’t even know that they personally said something to you that was hurtful earlier that day.
So it’s vital that you share this information with your boss and that you do it in a productive way. The way I’ve done this well before is to set up a weekly meeting with them where we have the same agenda every week, and on that agenda is a place for us to bring up frustrations. It ensures that we can actually get those thoughts out on a weekly basis, and tends to create an environment of openness and honesty, which are essential to feeling like you can share hard things.
Myth 3: My boss should know what I’m good at.
All of our skillsets are constantly changing and so are the needs of our companies. Yet, we place so much emphasis on our bosses knowing what job is going to be the best job for us and ensuring that we get in that role. Instead, I think it’s vital to share what you actually believe you’re good at with your boss and to do so over, and over, and over again. Why? Because, like I just said, the needs of the company are always changing and it’s super important for you to make sure that your boss knows how you can help (or not) in any given situation. Because if you don’t speak up, you’ll either get placed in a role that’s not right for you or (even worse) you’ll have someone else take the role you would have been a fit for just because you didn’t feel comfortable sharing.
Myth 4: My boss should know the problems we’re facing.
And finally, there is this belief that your boss should know all of the problems that you’re dealing with. But again, your boss can’t read minds. It’s not only vital for you to share what’s going on with you but equally as important to share potential problems you spot in the business. You, your boss, and your company must know all the possible problems you’re aware of. That way, your boss—and others!—can help figure out ways to support and help you in your job. Just make sure to offer a suggestion or two if you can. That way, it will kickstart the brainstorming process between you, your boss, and anyone else that needs to be included in the conversation, and it not only helps you be a colleague that’s taking personal responsibility for finding solutions, but it also means you’re not perceived as someone who’s always complaining but never actually helping.