The One Sign Your Boss Wants You Gone by Brian de Haaff

Every boss is different. And you are different from your colleagues, too. So, it’s natural that we have different types of relationships. Some good, some meh, and some bad. But when your boss really is not on your side, it impacts all of you. That hurts. Having an unpleasant boss is adverse to your career growth and makes you feel physically, pit-in-the-stomach ill.

There just isn’t anything more miserable than working for someone who is rotten — or worse, who makes you feel rotten. I am a realistic optimist, but sometimes your boss just wants to see through you. Hate is a strong word, and I do not use it lightly. But sometimes that’s what it feels like. You feel hated.

So, how do you recognize pending misery before it’s upon you? Do you know the one true sign that your boss wants you gone?

This post is the counter-balance to my wildly-popular post last week, The One Sign Your Boss Loves You. In that post, I pointed out that a boss saying “You did a good job” benefits employees by making them feel special, giving them a sense of team, and providing protection. These are important feelings for supportive bosses to inspire in employees and loved employees work harder than ever.

As the CEO of Aha! (product strategy and visual roadmap software), I take employee happiness seriously as a leader of a rapidly growing, high-performance team. And I do my best to make sure that everyone is challenged and growing.

But what happens, though, when your boss is far from supportive?

You are not happy when your boss is nasty and you want to leave your workplace. Studies have shown that less than half of the workforce feels appreciated by their bosses and that two-thirds of them say they’ll seek new work within a year. It’s hard to bring your best to a boss who brings his or her worst. So how do you know if your boss is just incompetent or if he really wants to show you the door?

The one key sign that your boss wants you gone is that your boss ignores you.

Being ignored is worse than being ridiculed. At least when you are ridiculed, you are acknowledged. A boss who is showing hatefulness by ignoring you does three things:

Avoids you
When your boss is avoiding you, he is indicating that your presence in the workplace doesn’t matter to him. He is sending clear signals that you are not someone with whom he needs to be engaging. Avoidance is worse than dismissiveness and is akin to rendering you invisible.

Gives your work to others
By giving your work to others, your boss is saying that your work doesn’t matter and/or that he doesn’t believe that you can do it. This indicates lack of trust as well as a lack of investment in you. If your work is being given away, you’ve already been written off by your boss.

Grabs credit
A hateful boss takes credit for your accomplishments and grabs your ideas. Rather than defining his own success in part by whom he lifts with him, he is stealing your success to make himself look more grand. You can’t get ahead in that environment.

Having a spiteful boss is painful. It’s just not worth it to put up with someone who isn’t going to change, so you may need to change direction yourself to free yourself from a tyrant.

You should not reach for job change readily, but when your boss does what is described above, it may be your only path to sanity and growth.

What signs do you look for to tell if your boss is holding you up or holding the door?


Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He has been the founder or early employee of six cloud-based software companies and is the CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product roadmap software. His last two companies were acquired by Aruba Networks [ARUN] and Citrix [CTXS].




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