So if you’re having a rough go at work, you may have asked the question: Is my boss threatened by me?
2 out of 5 employees have quit a job in the past because of a bad manager.
Including me. Yup, I’ve quit bad bosses in the past.
And while there are a lot of different ways to be a bad boss, having a boss that’s threatened by you can definitely be a part of it.
In this post, I’ll talk about 6 signs your boss is threatened by you. And what to do about it.
1. You get left off of stuff
So everything seems to be going well at work. And all of a sudden, you notice that you are left off of stuff. Important files that you be perfect for. Opportunities that are exciting.
If you find yourself on the outside looking in, it could be because your boss is threatened by you.
2. They belittle you to higher-ups
Once upon a time, I was in a job and I was killing it. So it was surprising when I accidentally overheard a manager belittling me to his manager.
Sometimes, a boss’s defense mechanism will be to criticize and belittle you. Even behind your back.
If you know you’re rocking it but hear stories of your boss bad-mouthing you, it could be a sign your boss is threatened by you.
3. Criticism gets personal
Getting constructive criticism in your work doesn’t mean your boss is threatened by you. Criticism is important.
And even though nobody likes it, we all need to hear negative feedback from time to time.
But if that feedback is getting too personal. If you find your boss has a tendency to complete and criticize parts of you that have nothing to do with your work performance, it could be a sign that your boss is threatened by you.
4. You are undermined
There’s a scene in the TV show Friends where Rachel is giving a presentation. Her boss had told her she was going to do a great job, but during the presentation, implied that she was stupid, and sleeping her way to the top.
Her boss actively undermined her, even after encouraging her to get the presentation.
Undermining is when your boss tries to hurt your reputation, and actively tries to tear down your work.
It can come in the form of micromanaging or publicly trying to damage the work you’re doing or your reputation.
If you find yourself undermined, it could be one of the signs your boss is threatened by you.
5. You are gaslit
“Gaslighting” was the word of the year a few years back.
Gaslighting somebody means that you make them question reality. It’s a common tactic of abusers, you perceived that someone has done something mean to you and they try to convince you that you are mistaken.
If your boss regularly treats you like crap and then tries to make you question your own sanity when you confront them about it, you are being gaslit.
And it could be a sign your boss is threatened by you.
6. They give you less-important work
We mentioned getting left off of stuff above, but how about getting piled high with work that doesn’t matter?
When you find all your time is given to useless, menial tasks, and the stuff you do best is given to someone else. Especially if you were hired to do that work.
Don’t get me wrong, every office has its share of crappy things that need to be done. And everybody needs to pitch in.
But if you find that you are only working on busy work, it could be a sign your boss is threatened by you.
What to do if your boss is threatened by you
It rarely makes sense to come out and say, “I think you’re threatened by me.” That’s a recipe for a defensive boss. And even if it’s true, it probably won’t get you anywhere.
Here are some things you can do if your boss is threatened by you:
- Have real conversations about your work. Saying things like, “I feel like I haven’t been doing as much of X. How could I make more of that type of work part of my workload?”
- Have your conversations about your feeling. You might decide to say things like, “I felt like you weren’t happy with my presentation. Do you have some feedback on how I can do better next time?”
- If it is a case of your boss being threatened by you, voicing respect for them can help establish trust. If you can find a (true) compliment to get them, something like: “I really admire the way you manage projects. I’d love to learn more about this.”
- Talk to HR. If things are progressing and getting worse, especially if some of these behaviors continue, it might be worth having a conversation with HR and getting it on the record – if your company has that sort of thing.
- Start looking for other jobs. I know from experience, working for a boss who is threatened by you will damage your career in the long term. And if you work for them for 5 or 10 years and then find yourself ready to move on, you might find yourself sabotaged. You can’t trust them. And in my mind, that might make it worth starting your job search.
Is your feeling like your boss is threatened by you, I’m sorry. That really sucks. Hopefully these tips help you to deal with it. Find a trusted friend outside of work to talk to you about it, and find the support you need to go through this difficult time.