Bob Dylan has a song, “Gotta Serve Somebody” where the chorus includes the words, “But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” And it’s true. If you have a job, you have a boss you must serve. The person’s title might be manager, supervisor, group leader, director, vice president or superintendent. But it all boils down to the same thing. You have a boss and there are things that he or she isn’t telling you.
1. We’re reading your emails and instant messages
While this isn’t true of all companies, many of the large ones and especially those that are involved in sensitive work actively monitor their employees’ emails, instant messages and text messages. And some of them are not only monitoring their employees but are doing something about it. One recent survey revealed that 20% of large corporations have disciplined employees for violating social-media policies. And 8% have actually fired an employee because of this.
2. You’re too old and too expensive
Do you report to a boss who’s younger than you are? More and more aging boomers whose hair is growing grayer are finding themselves reporting to bosses who are younger than they are. This can lead to tensions and problems that can include, in the worst-case scenario, losing your job. The fastest-growing category of job-discrimination lawsuits is related to age. Last year, nearly 23,000 people filed age discrimination claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Another survey showed that roughly 25% of employers reported that their companies were reluctant to hire older employees. You could find yourself in an even worse position if you’re growing older and earning more than younger people in your same job category. Times are still tough and many companies are not at all reluctant to get rid of older and more expensive employees in favor of younger ones whom they can pay 30% or even 40% less.
3. Your kid is your problem
We are pretty sure you know that women earn less than men. But if you’re a woman and have a child, this can damage your earning potential even more. You could get passed over for a promotion or get overlooked for high-profile projects. Your paycheck itself could suffer. The Bureau of Labor Statistics did a study in 2012 that found that women who had children under the age of 18 had median weekly earnings of $680. This compared with $697 for women who didn’t have children.
Having a really good relationship with your boss can definitely help your career. However, a bad relationship can actually hurt it. Does your boss not keep his or her word, give you the silent treatment, invade your privacy or deflect blame to you? In this case, you could experience job tension, nervousness, more exhaustion and depression. In fact, it could even cost you your life. A study done by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine discovered that people, who had worked under a boss for four years that was incommunicative, opaque or inconsiderate were actually 60% more likely to have heart attacks.
4. I don’t have time for you
Two thirds of employees recently surveyed said they had too little time with their bosses. Given the fact that unemployment is so high, some bosses just don’t feel that they are required to spend as much time with their employees as in the past. Their philosophy is sort of, “hey, you’re getting a paycheck and that should be enough of a thank you.”
5. I could be your best friend
If you can become the boss’s pet, you could enjoy some nice perks. There are managers who play favorites and in some pretty obvious ways such as giving one of their subordinates plum assignments or pushing upper management to give him or her a raise. Other bosses might give their protégés a subtler boost by offering them extra guidance or making sure they meet the “right” people. Of course, things are never exactly equal when one “friend” could fire the other. It’s also important to be sensitive about discussing personal issues. You might feel very close to your boss but there is always the chance that he will end up using that information in a way that serves his purpose and not yours.
6. I won’t promote you based on your performance
There are a number of reasons why people get promoted or don’t. And many of these are things that workers cannot control. This can include the boss’s preferences, company culture and organizational rules. In the larger and more traditional companies, seniority can be the main reason why people receive promotions. Of course, there are also cases where promotions come down to the boss’s favoritism. A study done by the research firm, Penn, Shoen, Berland found that more than 90% of senior executives reported that they had seen favoritism play into employee promotions.
It’s a sad but true fact that being thin and attractive can help a worker get ahead. A study done by the University of Texas and Jeff Biddle of Michigan State University found that good-looking people earned 3% to 8% more than people who are just average looking and 5% to 10% more than those people who were rated as “plain.”
8. I know you’re faking it
If you’re a typical employee you’re probably fairly honest. About 66% of people recently surveyed said they don’t call in sick when they’re feeling perfectly well. Of course, there are slackers who feign illness, look for other jobs while at work, duck out early or pad their expense accounts. If a boss does get suspicious about an employee, things can get out of control quickly. In fact, about 30% of bosses said that they had checked on an employee who had called in sick to make sure that their “flu” was legitimate. About 64% of those bosses said they required a doctor’s note while 48% called their employees to make sure that they at least sounded sick. Even more important, 19% checked their employee’s social media account and an amazing 15% actually drove past the employee’s house. What happened if the boss found the illness wasn’t legitimate? Some 16% actually fired the employee.
9. It’s all about me
About 50% of workers recently surveyed said that their bosses had taken credit for their work. One third said that their boss had “thrown them under the bus” to save himself or herself. Of course, not all of this is malicious. Sometimes a boss might believe that the employer-employee relationship doesn’t require that he or she give you credit. In other cases, if it’s a big team, it could just be human error. Your boss just might not be able to remember who did what part of the project.
What you could do
What can you do if you feel your boss is your worst enemy or that it’s all about him or her? There are some things you should do if you have a bad manager. First, document everything. Keep a record of your wins and your losses. Why is this a good idea? It’s because if your boss comes to you with either a perceived or real complaint or is looking for reasons to fire you, you would have documentation to support what you did or didn’t do. When there’s a problem, you should always document it as well as your activities and your solution if there was one. You should also note how it affected the company. In addition, make sure that you document all concrete examples of your successes such as sales leads, numbers, or other measurable accomplishments.
Your documentation and other important information shouldn’t be accessible just on your company’s network or your work computer. Back up all your documentation at home or to the cloud so that if were suddenly let go, you would have something you could use if you decided to file a complaint or that could help you get a new job.
There’s always the temptation when dealing with a bad manager to respond in kind. Don’t be sarcastic, snarky or facetious when talking with him or her. A bad boss will only use this behavior to justify their actions. Yes, taking the high road can suck. But if you have to prove some point, don’t get nasty. Just use your documentation to prove your point.
Use websites such as LinkedIn and other social media platforms to create a network and keep it active. You could use it to quietly put out the word that you’re looking for another job but only with people you trust. That way it won’t get back to your manager.
It just might be better to quit than to keep dealing with a bad manager. If you have tried everything and none of it has worked and your manager is just impossible to deal with, it could be time to look for another job. This is not an ideal solution but sometimes it’s the only resort.
If your manager is a bully
If you’re stuck with a manager who bullies you, it can make your job totally miserable. Fortunately, there are some good ways to deal with a manager who’s a bully as explained in this video.