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How to Confront Your Boss

Ask Savvy: I'm Frustrated With My Boss

This question was submitted by reader DCBaxter. If you have a issue you need support with, send me a Private Message, or blog it in the Ask Savvy group.

Dear Savvy,

I am growing more and more frustrated with my boss — she makes severe mistakes and does not pay attention to anything I say. When I send a document for her to look at, she sends back edits, but her edits have tons of errors. This creates more work for me. I have also noticed that she has quite a few typos in email correspondence to clients. This is embarrassing. Finally, almost every day, I will offer her a piece of information on something I'm working on, (email or in person), and she will respond later asking me about the very piece of information I offered, as if it had never come up before. (For example, I will say "I followed up with XYZ client." Her response will be "But what about XYZ client? Did you follow up?") Every day I grow more and more frustrated and I respect her less and less. I spoke with a coworker, asking if there is anything I can do, and she said that I just had to grin and bear it, that she is my boss and I can't say anything. Do you agree with this? Or is there some tactful way to address these issues?

To see what Savvy advises, read more.

I totally get that it's so frustrating to feel that your boss is not listening. It sounds like your boss might be overwhelmed and is letting details fall through the cracks. Your approach to the situation really depends on your company culture and your relationship with your boss. Communication with your superior does not always have to be aggressive, and there is a tactful way of going about things. If you feel that your candor will be appreciated, perhaps you can consider scheduling a meeting with your boss. First things first: get your frustrations out with a friend and not with your boss. Next, I would give it a week to think about what you want to say and write down how you want to phrase things.

If you're meeting with your boss, say things like "It sounds like you're really overwhelmed, is there anything I can do to help?" or "I want to be frank and say that I've been frustrated because it seems that we're not communicating very well. Is there a better way that I can communicate to make it more efficient for you and me?" Remember to not finger point and blame because she is still your boss. Instead, keep coming back to the fact that you are committed to making things better. Try to be really understanding with your boss because it sounds like she has a lot on her plate and let it show during your talk with her.

As I mentioned before, it really depends on how your company culture is and I think you know your situation best. If you don't feel comfortable talking directly to your boss, perhaps you can consider talking to HR about this. Good luck!

Ask anything career or budget-related — well almost anything — by posting your questions in the Ask Savvy group, and readers and I will weigh in to support you.


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Rjs-baby-girl Rjs-baby-girl 5 years
Same thing as weffie said in my office too. But my boss will do that days or weeks after I write or tell him an information. I will write an email saying I followed up with XYZ client. Then 1 week later he will ask me if I did. But the worst thing about him is that he writes his request as if I was already in his head understanding everything. No information given, only the request written and I'm supposed to be already knowing what it is about. I'm not a mind reader!
DCBaxter DCBaxter 5 years
Thanks for the advice, Savvy - this definitely helps!
weffie weffie 5 years
"I followed up with XYZ client.""But what about XYZ client? Did you follow up?"This is how every morning starts in my office :) I feel your pain!
weffie weffie 5 years
"I followed up with XYZ client." "But what about XYZ client? Did you follow up?" This is how every morning starts in my office :) I feel your pain!
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