Bosses don't normally greet you every morning with hugs and kisses and free croissants and coffee, but some great bosses do exist. Awful nasty characters who hate you also exist, unfortunately, and if they are in positions of power they can make your working life a misery. Before getting on your high horse, though, it might be smart to check if your boss hates you because you are terrible at your job, or if he hates you because he has unresolved emotional issues and is a horrific specimen of humanity!
They publicly belittle you
No-one is perfect, and if you have a nice boss, those little (or big) mistakes will be glossed over as time goes by. If your boss hates you, though, he/she may save up all the tiny little mistakes and use them as ammunition to berate you in front of other people, especially other managers.
They laugh at your ideas
People who know their job well get a sense of satisfaction from improving their workplace and the way things are done. If a boss reacts to a reasonable suggestion that you have put a lot of effort into with a derisive laugh, it may be the case that the boss saw a golden opportunity to put you down, without ever seriously entertaining the idea at all.
They get angry at you for bringing bad news
If a boss is a basket-case, he/she may project all the issues he/she has in her working life onto a scapegoat. If you happen to be that unfortunate scapegoat, a sure sign is that when you inform him/her of setbacks or other bad news, he/she will blame you even when the issue has nothing to do with you.
They withhold essential information to get the job done
Sometimes a boss hates you so much that he/she actively tries to make you leave your job. A handy and subtle way of edging you out is to ask you to do a project, but leave some essential information out. This way you look incompetent and he/she can play the part of the long-suffering patient boss.
They nitpick on excellent work
Putting in hard work and creating a fantastic project is a reward in itself during everyday working life, and pride at a job well done helps to improve the day. When a nitpicking boss zooms in on tiny issues such as mispelling on a report, and ignores the report's quality as a whole, this sense of satisfaction can be swept away, to be replaced with a overwhelming cloud of resentment that follows you around all day.
They give last-minute work
If a boss regularly saunters up to your desk late on a Friday afternoon and casually drops a pile of work that apparently has to be done before you go home, then he/she may hate you, specifically. If you know the work can actually wait till the next week, then he/she might really, really hate you.
They go out of their way to check your clock-in times
Many jobs involve having to clock-in, and only a few employees out of many are pathologically late. If you are a normal person with only the odd late clock-in, due to reasons like a projectile vomiting child in the morning, or a nasty car crash with an ambulance or two, then your boss regularly inspecting your clock-in times with a fine tooth comb is an indication that he/she hates you, and he's/she's looking for any excuse to hate you more.
They give you too much work
Some bosses hate you because you're much more competent than they are, and one way of making you appear less competent is to load on the work, to the point where you start to crack under the strain. This is especially obvious if your colleagues have a much smaller pile of work than you do.
They give you a self-help book for Kris Kringle
An especially underhanded way of putting you down is to subtly indicate to others and yourself what your boss really thinks of you, which is that you have personal issues. A cruel way to do this is to give you a self-help book as a Kris Kringle present, which is a stab in the back disguised as a thoughtful gift.
They give you all the lowly jobs
Normally, a relaxed and happy group of colleagues tend to share the jobs like going to the shop to pick up lunch, or spring-cleaning the office. If your boss hates you the most of all the people in the department, then you may find yourself being ordered around to do all the lowly jobs, at the expense of your status and your self-esteem.
They badmouth you to others
If your boss hates you, he/she may spend time badmouthing you to others, so he/she can release some of her frustration about you. This may be warranted, if you truly are a bad employee, or it may be an inaccurate representation of you to others. You might be able to spot signs of this undermining of your reputation by other colleagues being cooler towards you or more suspicious of your work.
They repeatedly pass you over for promotion
One sure sign that you are either not very good at your job, or that your boss hates you, is that you are not offered any promotions you have gone up for, and other people, who are less deserving, have got the job instead.
Related: The world's most stressful jobs
- CNN Money; By the Way...Your Staff Hates You...; Tim Carvell; 28 September 1998
- Bloomberg Businessweek; When Your Boss Undermines You; 13 February 2002
- Management Issues; Perhaps your boss really does hate you; 02 Oct 2008
- Business Knowhow; Help!! I Hate my Boss!; Nancy Halpern
- Human Law Mediation; Memo to Senior Employee -How To Tell If You Are About To Be Sacked; 17 Jan 2010
- Training Journal: The eight traits of horrible bosses and how to handle them
- Female First; The 5 Types of Horrible Boss Revealed; 21 November 2011