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How to work under a boss you hate

By Lakshmi Murthy
July 07, 2017 09:10 IST
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Life is unpredictable and you may end up working under a boss you hate. But there are ways to make the maximum of this tricky situation says Lakshmi Murthy.

Bad boss

Let me start with a caveat: no one should be at a place where s/he is working with a boss whom they hate, but still have to put up with.

It's a really stressful and unpleasant situation.

But yes, life is unpredictable and you may end up working under a boss you hate.

So let us see how you can make the maximum of this tricky situation.

Focus on work

Whatever be the relationship with your boss, at the end of the day, if you focus on work and deliver results, there is no boss in the world who will not at least acknowledge it.

Be practical

Since you do not like the boss, s/he may not like you as well. After all the boss is also a human being.

Everyone has a tendency to reciprocate.

Also understand that you cannot be a saint and may not like working with a person for whatever reason.

Hence, be practical in your approach and expect basic minimum in assignments, rewards and recognition.

You may or may not get the recognition or assignments you deserve. But do not get overworked or depressed when this happens.

Do not overstep your authority and never show your boss down.

Do not get into arguments for the sake of it -- the thumb rule is that you can never win a argument with your boss.

Showcase your work

Look for opportunities where you can showcase your work in a team situation, to your customers or top boss.

You could come across as an over smart person or someone jumping the protocol, so do it in a very genuine way where you are merely showcasing good performance.

It will help you to be known to more people in the organisation, who can motivate, mentor or even help you with the situation.


You may have a genuine reason for not liking your boss, but never make the mistake of talking about your dislikes with colleagues.

This does impact you negatively, both in terms of reputation as well as mental peace.


If the situation continues for a long time, you should have a direct conversation with your boss and share feedback with factual data.

Do this only if you are confident of dealing with the outcome, which can go either way.

Another way to deal with the situation is by asking the HR to set up a skip-level meeting with his boss.

Even there, you should be factual.

Remember, your boss is your boss for some reason. Organisations retain people only if they are contributing.

So if you cannot stand your ground and come across as a mere cribber, you may lose out.

If nothing works and the situation is affecting your health and happiness, change your job.

Working with a colleague you dislike? Try this

If you end up working with colleagues with whom you do not get along, then the above rules apply.

Moreover, if you have only one colleague with whom you have a problem, you can always avoid such a person and continue to keep good relationships with colleagues.

In this situation, another factor in your favour is that you have a boss to whom you can escalate the problem.

When you escalate, weigh your odds and only then go to the boss.

If the colleague with whom you do not get along is a critical contributor, you better have a strong case.

As mentioned earlier, factual presentation of the case always help.

Most of the organisations do have a HR department, who can be approached for guidance and help.

Organisations also have a defined system of grievance redressal or complaint addressing mechanisms, which can be used.

Having said that, if you are an average performer and you have a complaint, it will most probably get discounted -- a stage will come when you will be heard but not listened to.

Never should a disagreement get out of hand or infringe on another colleague's personal space.

Be very careful about the language you use and the forum.

Generally, when you approach someone with a complaint, go with an open mind to get critical feedback as well.

The author Lakshmi Murthy is chief people officer, ITM Group Of Institutions, a vocational training and recruitment institution.

Lead image: A still from 3 Idiots. Used for representational purpose only. 

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Lakshmi Murthy