Don't Quit! How to Overcome a Bad Working Relationship with Your Boss

By Gail Whitaker, DM, University Dean of Business and Management

CTU Business Degree - Manage the relationship with your bossWhat’s the No. 1 reason why people leave their jobs? It’s not money. Read on.
Having a bad boss is the top reason why most people quit their jobs. There are so many missed opportunities when employees prematurely leave their jobs because of bad relationships with their bosses. Here are four strategies to manage up that may ultimately benefit your career.


Try to see through your boss’ eyes. It is very important to understand your boss’ perception of you and your behavior. Step back and reflect on your behavior, feedback from previous bosses and comments from your coworkers. In your reflection, ask yourself the following:

  • Are you passionate about and supportive of your boss’ vision, goals and objectives?
  • Have you publically expressed disappointments over your boss’ decisions or work?
  • Have you displayed any passive-aggressive behaviors that have isolated you from a relationship with your boss? 

Once you can reflect and see yourself through your boss’ eyes, you can then set a path to repair your relationship.


Take the time to repair any damage to the relationship between you and your boss. Start by emphasizing your commitment to the company and your boss. You should initiate the process to show your intent to build a mutual and collaborative relationship. (You may want to review a few approaches for having a tough conversation with your boss.) You cannot get to the next step of building trust if there are significant gaps in the relationship. Once you repair the relationship, you can start rebuilding. 


You will not be successful in managing up if your boss does not trust you. Take the time and make the effort to rebuild your relationship with him/her. Make sure you are transparent and honest and not manipulative or sarcastic in your approach. Once you are back on track, you want to stay there. Do your research, and get to know your boss so your relationship can continue to grow and flourish.


You have to know what your boss wants and act on that knowledge. Do your research and get to know your boss’ idiosyncrasies, pet peeves and preferences. It is very important to learn your boss’ work style, work language and work cycle, including the best time to engage with him/her. It is always useful to have your boss clarify expectations and his/her definition of good versus excellent work. Take the information you have learned and excel at your job, because no one can refute excellence.

You may be thinking, “You do not know my boss,” to which I will answer, “It is not about your boss but about your success.” If you allow conflict with your boss to create barriers to your success, then you are giving your boss too much power and control over your destiny. If you take control and implement steps to create a mutually respectful and supportive relationship, your boss will partner with you and support your professional trajectory within the organization. 

What strategies have you used that were successful? I would love to add your wisdom to my list!

CTU Faculty - Gail WhitakerGail Whitaker, DM, is the university dean of Business and Management at Colorado Technical University. She has more than 25 years of management training and is committed to helping students achieve their goals through education. Watch Dr. Whitaker’s CTU Story to learn more or follow her on Twitter.

Image credit: flickr/Victor1558

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