Gini Dietrich

What to Do When You Hate Your Boss and the Boss Is You

By: Gini Dietrich | September 10, 2019 | 
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What to Do When You Hate Your BossThe stats are in and, well, things aren’t looking good.

Most of us hate our jobs.

The Conference Board reports that 53 percent of Americans are currently unhappy at work. 

On top of that, 79 percent of people who do take the plunge and quit their jobs cite their reasoning as “lack of appreciation.”

According to a Harvard Business Review survey, 58 percent say they trust strangers more than their own boss. STRANGERS!

And it gets worse. Nearly two-thirds of all managers never receive management training. No wonder a good majority of workers hate their jobs.

But…what if you’re the boss?

I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago and a few of us joked in the comments that we hate our boss.

But there is some truth in it. 

People disliking their jobs is nothing new, but it’s discouraging when you’re doing all you can do to make your team happy. 

Creating a workplace and culture that’s supportive, pleasant, and even fun…

Doing your best to take care of everyone else…

Or, as a friend of mine would put it, putting oxygen masks on everyone else before yourself…

..but who is taking care of you

What happens when you hate your boss, and you ARE the boss?

Quite a conundrum, right?

What If the Boss Is Miserable…and the Boss Is You?

Everything we read or hear tells us that entrepreneurs should love every moment of their jobs.

Not just love it, but be passionate about it.

Not mind working 24/7 without any work/life balance.

After all, our businesses are our lives. Right? 

Maybe. And maybe not.

A good friend and colleague of mine was the owner of a successful agency. They had big name clients, a hip office, and, from the outside, they looked like a big success. 

But, my friend was miserable. 

He was bored doing the same thing for his clients, who he’d been working with for years. He was arguing with his partners who had different values and expectations about the business than he did. And he was itching to try something new.

So he did.

After lots of contemplation and a good amount of time spent thinking, he left the business he started.

It wasn’t easy and, let me tell you, a lot of lawyers were involved.

But he was able to refocus on the things he was passionate about and even work with some amazing friends—if I do say so myself!

Do You REALLY Have to Sacrifice Everything?

I mentioned in an article last week that our brains are not meant to be focused on work 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

People aren’t robots; and whether or not you might like to be one, business owners aren’t robots, either.

When you throw every waking hour of your day into your business, the inevitable result is burnout. 

An article from Entrepreneur in 2015 said that many entrepreneurs get stuck in the mindset they have to sacrifice everything to not only be successful but produce an environment that employees are successful and happy in, as well.

The amount of pressure we put on ourselves is insane.

Not only are we responsible for the livelihoods of others, but we are responsible for clients and vendors and banks and lawyers and the whole lot of them.

That can definitely lead to sleepless nights and countless anxieties.

At the same time, it’s a little addictive.

You bring in a new client or win a big piece of business. Suddenly your growth skyrockets and it becomes fun again. You remember why you do what you do. 

Others get addicted to the rush that comes along with the setup of a new business, that first span of time when your organization is growing wildly. 

Who wouldn’t? It’s a great feeling—and it truly is addictive. 

The problem is when the pace starts to slow. All of a sudden you feel like you aren’t doing as much as you should, you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough.

Even though the business is doing fantastic, you suddenly feel a little… lost. 

Looking at Your Working Life

It’s easy to get mired in the slump of the down cycles.

It’s easy to say you hate your boss, even when you are the boss.

When that happens, take a step back and look closely at how your working days unfold.

Try to hone in on all the things that contribute to your misery.

I had a business coach who always recommended journaling.

He wanted me to write down the ups and the downs—what made me happy and what made me miserable.

That was a little too “woo woo” for me, but there are some ways to make that philosophy work for you.

Brendon Burchard has a daily planner that allows you to not just focus on your top priorities, but write down one win and one loss for each day.

This allows you to figure out where you’re spending your time and will quickly lead to what is making you so miserable. 

Next, examine the relationship you have with your colleagues, clients, vendors, and partners.

With your colleagues:

  • Are you micromanaging them?
  • Picking up the slack for them?
  • Are there tasks they should be doing on their own but you’ve somehow pulled onto your own plate of responsibility?
  • Are you confident they can do their jobs?
  • Do you like how they see you?
  • Better yet, are you confident they see you the way you think?

If you are keen to journaling, take my business coach’s advice and write it all down.

If you’re more like me, find a system that works for you.

I recently started using Calendar with the intent that data will show me where I spend my time and, with that, what I should not be doing and can delegate.

When you take a proactive approach like this, it’ll be far easier to create a plan to fix things and get back to your rainbow and unicorn, happy self.

Evaluating the Evidence

Now it’s time to look at all the evidence and even the data, if you’re using a tool such as Calendar.

The point is, it becomes very clear what needs to change.

It might be someone on your team, where you’re spending your time, a terrible and abusive client, or a rejiggering of internal policies. 

Some of you may have already heard this story, so if you have, forgive me. It’s a great illustration of what I mean.

In the early life of my agency, we had a very large client that I fought tooth and nail to win.

We first got a couple of projects in the Midwest.

After we crushed those, we were asked to help coordinate, promote, and execute their annual event.

After we crushed that, including a front-page story in the L.A. Times, we won agency of record.

And we stole that title from my PR firm alma mater. I was very proud of us and the work we’d done. 

About a year into the bigger relationship, the CEO asked us to focus on earned media in some of the biggest business publications, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Working with some of my journalist friends, we crafted stories for each of their publications. Every time we swung, we won.

After a particularly good story on the front page, right below the fold, of the Wall Street Journal, we were on a high.

The chief of corporate communications thought we could do no wrong. I had a vision of him strutting around the office, high-five’ing the entire comms team. 

And then…I received an overnight package from the CEO. In it was a copy of the New York Times from the day before. A post-it note was on it and it read, “When are we getting here?”

I was deflated. My team was deflated. His internal communications team was deflated.

It was completely demoralizing and it made me reconsider our entire business strategy.

Thankfully, that was about the same time that social media and owned media were making a play in business and we capitalized on that.

But, because of that one overnight package, we completely changed our business strategy and, in 2010, announced we were no longer a PR firm, but one that does digital communications.

Accept You’re a Control Freak and Fix It

It doesn’t always require a big scare or a terrible client or even a down economy to make change.

Sometimes the reason we hate what we’re doing, while running the businesses we founded, is because we’re simply too busy and can’t keep our heads above water.

Laura Petrolino, our chief client officer, is a self-admitted control freak, though after working with her for six years, I would agree with that assessment.

She wrote an article about how those of us who fall in that category can better learn to delegate tasks.

The first step is accepting you’re a control freak.

It’s pretty safe to assume that the reason you’re an entrepreneur today is you have at least a few of the control freak tendencies.

Have you accepted it? Good.

Now, take a list of your daily, weekly, and monthly tasks and categorize them into three sections.

They are tasks:

  1. Only you should do; 
  2. You should do more of; and 
  3. You should do less of.

Gather as many of those tasks as you can and move them to the third category. Get these off your desk and give them to team members who can handle them. 

Next, I’m going to force you to be really honest with yourself. Look at the tasks you should do more of and see what else you can move to your colleagues, virtual assistants, or your cadre of consultants. 

You can do this. I have faith in you.

Sometimes It Means Giving Up What You Love

About a year ago, I had to come to terms with the fact that I didn’t need to write as much as I did on this very blog.

I love creating content. It’s been a dream since I was a kid to write a novel and I’ve written two business books (though the novel is still forthcoming).

So you can imagine it was painful to give this up.

But, when I took a closer look at our goals and our vision, it was pretty clear I should be spending my time focused on other aspects of the business. 

Finally, I bit the bullet and hired a marketing team to handle most of the content creation.

Of course, I haven’t given it up completely. I do still do the Spin Sucks podcast and write for the blog twice a week. I also have a Facebook Live idea percolating in my head.

But the point is, it’s freed up my time to have ideas percolating in my head. 

If you want your organization to be successful, you can’t hate your boss. More importantly, you can’t burn out. You not burning out is critical to the long-term success of your company.

When you’re running a company, your happiness might seem like it can take a step back. In reality, your professional happiness is key to running a successful organization. 

Your colleagues will sense when you’re unhappy and that sort of thing bleeds over into everything around you.

Being kind to yourself is important.

If it weren’t for you, there wouldn’t be an organization, so take care of yourself.

Take stock of what makes you happy and what needs to change…and change it. 

Do You Hate Your Boss? 

Do you hate your boss? Are you the boss…and you hate your boss? 

Either way, we can help!

Join the Spin Sucks community to commiserate, laugh, and share funny memes. We might even help you delegate your lists. 

And now the comments are yours. What advice do you have for someone who hates their boss…even if their boss is very closely related to themselves?

Photo by Pablo Varela on Unsplash

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She also has run, built, and grown an agency for the past 14 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.