How To Deal With A Jealous Boss
If you’ve worked in a professional setting for any amount of time, you may have experienced a jealous boss. And let’s face it: jealous bosses are horrible bosses. Learning how to deal with the betrayal, workplace drama and coworker sabotage that comes with a jealous boss can be infuriating.
You might be thinking, “It’s not that bad. I can deal with a terrible boss as long as I get paid.” But working for a jealous boss can actually be more damaging than you think. If your boss feels threatened or intimidated by you, they have the power to do some serious damage to your career.
Getting passed over for projects, not receiving raises, not getting well-deserved promotions and not receiving letters of recommendation are all ways a terrible boss can make your dream career a living nightmare. So, before they potentially ruin your career and your mental health, here’s how to deal with a jealous boss.
How to deal with a jealous boss: first, determine if they are trying to sabotage you
What are the signs of a jealous boss, you ask? While every manager is different, there are a few tell-tale indicators. Signs of a jealous boss include:
- Your boss insults your achievements and diminishes your efforts
- Your boss is dismissive and pretentious
- Your boss never gives you their undivided attention
- Your boss gatekeeps connections with higher-level management
- Your boss never asks for or takes your advice
- Your boss takes credit for your hard work
- Your boss often assigns you irrelevant tasks
- Your boss blows up on you regularly
- Your boss undermines your education and experience
- Your boss withholds career-advancing projects from you
- Your boss actively attempts to sabotage your assignments
- Your boss hides behind impersonal communication methods
- Your boss gives you deadlines that you can’t possibly meet
- Your boss expects perfection
- Your boss expects you to do their job for them
- Your boss makes you take the fall for their failures
This is by no means an exhaustive list of what constitutes a jealous boss. But if your manager exhibits even three or four of these traits, chances are good the two of you are in a toxic, jealous relationship. From here on out, you may need to focus on preserving your career.
How to deal with a jealous boss: come up with coping tactics
Workplace drama can end one of a few ways. Sometimes, people make amends and work things out. Other times, things simply get worse, and people leave the company altogether. And still other times, another person steps in and resolves the situation as a non-biased third party. All of these methods are an option. Let’s look at them, as well as a couple of other ideas.
1. Start by collecting evidence
Before you even approach your boss, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the evidence to back your claims up. Otherwise, it’s a game of he-said-she-said, and nobody wins that. As you continue to work for your jealous boss, start keeping records of emails, files and other evidence that might be relevant when telling others that your manager is sabotaging you. Doing so now will help you call your boss out if they choose to lie when you expose them.
2. Consider whether or not to confront your boss
Once you have evidence, you’ve got to make a decision: should you confront your jealous boss or not? This will come down to your own specific situation, so there’s no universal advice. If your boss is a generally reasonable person who just has some frustrating behavioral issues, then it actually might be worth voicing your concerns.
Sit down with them. Talk to them. Tell them you feel belittled and attacked. Show them specific instances where they’ve actively sabotaged you. There’s a chance your boss might not even notice what they’re doing, and if that’s the case, a conversation like this can really turn things around.
However, if your boss is the kind of person who’ll simply weaponize your words against you and make life even more difficult, then confrontation is a no-go. Instead, you’ll want to pursue other avenues to make your workplace drama go away.
3. Decide whether to be “right” or “happy”
If confrontation is a nonstarter, then choosing between “right” and “happy” is another option at your disposal. Some people won’t like this method, but for others, it might be just right.
Here’s how it works. At work (and in life), you can choose between one of two options: you can either be right about something, or you can be happy with things as they are. In this instance, being right about something means standing up for a specific strategy, campaign, tactic, business decision, etc. that you’ve proposed. If you fight for it, you might get what you want, but it may also make your boss angry.
On the other hand, being happy means letting go of the need to be right. It means choosing not to engage with every idea you disagree with. It even means letting your boss execute on bad ideas sometimes.
This is a tough pill for many people to swallow, but it does work. However, this won’t work if your boss’s problems go deeper than occupational incompetence. If your manager is vindictive, then you’ll need to try something else.
4. For extra-jealous bosses, change yourself, not them
We have a saying that goes, “don’t try to get water from a wall.” Much like you can’t make a wall rain, you shouldn’t expect certain behaviors from people who have never exhibited those behaviors before. That’s especially true of your sabotaging boss: no matter how much you sit down and talk to them about their backstabbing ways, you shouldn’t expect them to change.
Instead of fixing your current situation, you can always try to move to other departments, work with other teams or pursue projects that don’t involve your jealous boss. Doing so will do leagues for your mental health, and it’ll also help you gain valuable face time with people at your company who will actually appreciate you for the work you do.
5. Bring up your concerns with HR and high-ranking company officials
Sometimes, the only solution for a terrible boss is to show the rest of the company how terrible and jealous they really are. Lodging formal complaints with your HR department or company executives is a completely valid way to address a jealous boss who’s actively trying to sabotage your career.
6. Consider applying for other jobs
Sometimes, you just really don’t need a jealous boss in your life. Sometimes, fighting against bad behavior, jealousy and sabotage is more trouble than it’s worth. In these cases, it might be time to consider putting in applications elsewhere. Explore your options and try to turn this difficulty into an opportunity. Who knows? You may find a job you love even more.
The other silver lining is that, if you do quit, you can ask for an exit interview with your boss — and the people who manage your boss. You don’t want to burn any bridges, but it’s never a bad idea to let your boss and their supervisors know why you’re leaving. Give them the honest but professional truth and move on.
7. Protect your mental health
Going to war with a jealous boss is an exhausting experience. If you’re currently dealing with a horrible manager, be sure to protect your mental health along the way. Take vacations when you can, engage in self-care, take care of your body, pick up new hobbies, try therapy or coaching, and surround yourself with supportive loved ones, friends and family.
8. Remember that you’re not what your boss says you are
If your boss demeans you or your work, just remember: you are NOT the things they call you. Your boss can tell you any number of terrible things, but that doesn’t mean you’re not good at your job, that you’re not a good person, or that you’re not qualified to do the work you’re doing. The truth is, you ARE good enough to do what you’re doing — and it’s much more likely that your boss is simply scared of your potential than anything else.
9. If you leave, don’t blame your departure on your boss
You know how it’s a big no-no to talk about your ex on a first date? The same goes with interviewing at new companies. If you’ve chosen to move on from your jealous boss, make sure not to bring them up in detail at future job interviews.
Why? Because new employers don’t know your boss like you do. Instead of agreeing with you, they might get the impression that you’re simply “hard to work with” or “disagreeable.” So, instead of focusing on all the bad things from your last job, focus on all the good things you want out of a new job, and talk about those things instead.
How to deal with a jealous boss: take it step by step
Learning how to deal with a jealous boss can be a confusing experience. The thing is, you don’t have to do any of this alone. If you need help confronting a boss who’s making your career miserable, we’re here to help. Reach out to us and we’ll discuss ways to stop your jealous boss before they can cause any more serious damage to your career.