I Hate Being a Boss

When we first start out, many of us can’t wait to become the boss. Finally you can do things the right way. You no longer have to be at the mercy of others who are in charge. Or so you think.

But being a boss has its own problems. First of all, unless you own the business, you usually have other bosses. Even if you are the head cheese, there might still be a Board or an Executive Committee to answer to. Or, more often, just the next boss up the totem pole.

Some people never dreamed of being a boss at all. They just kind of got promoted up there. And, while they like the extra money, they might not really like all that comes with it.

Whiny employees. Unrelenting deadlines. Bosses that undermine what you’re trying to accomplish. Day in and day out the load is now on their shoulders and, if for any reason they don’t have a top-notch group of employees ready to pitch in and make the work happen, their days become nothing but problem-solving and putting out fires.

Before they know it, they feel miserable and they feel trapped because the money is so good and there doesn’t seem to be any practical way out of this role that they are not enjoying.

Now I’m sure some of you non-bosses are saying “oh boo hoo!” You’re probably just as miserable and making a lot less, so getting more money to be equally miserable doesn’t sound all that bad. But trust me, there’s no joy in bossville when things are not going well.

Clearly, there’s no way for me to write a single post that magically makes being a boss a lot better. But here are a few thoughts that might help a little:

  • You don’t have to do it all yourself. The sooner you learn to delegate, the better.
    • Even those of you who think you are delegating may not be delegating enough or effectively. Make an extra effort to learn to delegate well.
    • If you’ve delegated well and yet you have employees who are doing a rotten job, don’t close your eyes and hope it will get better. Start working with them right away. Meet regularly and set clear goals – and clear consequences should the goals not be met. And stick to them.
    • If the employee(s) still does a rotten job, you could try to get someone else to work with him/her or to be an extra managing layer. I’ve seen this work sometimes. Other times, not so much. But it’s worth a shot.
    • If you don’t want to fire the person or can’t, consider reorganizing and creating a different role for the person. Ask them what they are interested in and/or who they’d like to work with. While you need to make sure they understand there’s no guarantee, at least you can try for a better allocation of resources.
    • If the person still isn’t working out, I’m sorry but you have to find a way to let them go. Even if it means you need to patiently follow a process of writing them up (as in a government job). I know that sucks, but I’ve done it and it’s worth it. Of course, if you can get them to apply elsewhere or even help them get another job, all the better. I’ve done that too and the person actually did a better job in another area more suited to his skills.
  • Delegation is important…but you also have to roll up your sleeves sometimes and show you’re part of the everyday effort. That doesn’t mean micro-managing. It might mean taking a role on some projects. But more often it means finding out what your staff needs and helping lead them through choppy waters. Or just listening to them and offering support and encouragement where needed. And of course, letting them know when they do something good!
  • Remember to hone your own leadership skills. Take classes in management, leadership, coaching, or even in a specialized areas of your business. Form a peer group and work with fellow managers to help each other. Try new things, even if they don’t all work out.
  • Remember to solicit ideas from the staff. Don’t be a loner. Let them know your door is open and ideas welcome.
  • Communicate up and down. Better to make the effort to find out what’s going on and let your staff in on things as much as possible. It keeps them from feeling left out and helps show you see them as part of your team.
  • Also remember to keep your sense of humor. If the workplace doesn’t include laughter, it makes everyone miserable.
  • An occasional surprise might brighten everyone’s spirit including yours. Think about what would make you smile (other than winning the lottery) if you were one of your employees. Some people think you can’t work hard and still have some fun at the same time. You can.
  • This also applies to the atmosphere you create. In fact, firms who treat employees like adults with flexibility and respect get better productivity. And firms who limit freedom, such as not allowing any personal e-mail or monitoring every move, get limited returns. (But if someone regularly abuses the freedom and/or doesn’t get their work done, then of course they must be dealt with firmly. That’s only fair to everyone else.)
  • Ask your staff to work with you to make things better. It could be individual contributions or even an ongoing committee or task force. Yes..I know people dread these things, but if you keep the meetings short and set clear goals that actually result in positive change, people feel good about their contributions. You could even include one (probably not two) of those “special people” who make your day less than fun. You might be surprised what they add. (If not, come up with an assignment and put them into their own one-person task force!)
  • Come up with some projects or changes that make YOU happy. Be creative. You are the boss after all.

Of course, if you really are miserable and nothing you do helps, then maybe it’s time for you to think about changing jobs and/or even not being a boss any more. Not everyone is suited for the role. Why stay miserable when you could change your life for the better?

Is there something else you’d rather do? Another company? A slightly different role? Would going back to school help open things up for you? Or maybe even some volunteer work that could lead to eventual change – or just a chance to do something you feel good about.

Oh, I know we all have obligations and I also know change is hard…but it’s even harder 5 years from now when your health has deteriorated and your misery index is through the roof. Now is the best time to do something to help yourself. Even if it means a cut in pay, you’ll work your way up again, but this time doing something you actually enjoy. Won’t that be a nice change!

And whether you stay or not, don’t forget to feed your spirit with things you love. A class in sculpting. Piano lessons. Tai chi. Yoga. Singing. Snowboarding. Dirt biking. Anything fun to shake up the rut of day in and day out drudgery. You’d be amazed how some simple changes in how you treat yourself can reflect back on the job and on your employees. When you feel more balanced and joyful, it kind of rubs off on all those around you. (Even your family.) Or at the very least, you aren’t as focused on all those annoyances. You now have cooler stuff to think about.

Well, maybe you’ll never love being a boss. But with a few changes maybe…just maybe…you won’t hate it quite so much any more. (-;

Good luck!

Ronnie Ann***

Still hate being a boss? Check out my more recent post:

Memo from Boss to Staff: I Really REALLY Hate Managing You!

=> Browse the Career Dictionary <=More recent post”


About the author…

Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, and on Google+.


  1. I think it’s also in the perception. A ‘boss’ is usually perceived as an authoritative, mean kind of guy, constantly delegating work and not lifting a finger to help. A leader, on the other hand, is perceived as someone who cares for those that are following her, someone who patiently coaches and guides others to achieve excellence at what they do. Most people would prefer to be referred to as leaders rather than bosses. What do you think?

  2. Great comment. I agree with your basic premise, Herman. It’s just that some people I know can’t quite yet see themselves as leaders and for others the very thought puts them off. They aren’t too eager to take on the role in the first place, but there they are wearing the shoes anyway. And more frequently than you might think, my work brings me in contact with people who don’t delegate well. So I wrote this from that perspective, while of course suggesting things a good leader would do.

    But yes indeed…”Boss” does sound like someone chomping a cigar and blowing it in your face. Point well taken. In truth, a good boss is a a leader and a coach – as well as a manager. Some bosses are like you describe and it would be good if they could see themselves in a more supportive role – but there are also some bosses (often women) who just don’t feel comfortable with the title or with being in charge at all and so they act and carry themselves like staff. That usually doesn’t serve them or the business well. And, unfortunately, there are employees who sense weakness and take advantage. So I was also addressing that type of boss in my post. I probably could have been more clear. Your comment adds nicely to the discussion. Seeing themselves as leaders and learning to feel comfortable in that role would benefit everyone. Thanks.

  3. Hi again Herman!

    I went back and made a few small changes to the post based on your thoughts. Thanks for the coaching. We can all learn from each other.

  4. I think most people want to be the boss because most people are drawn to power, status, and money. Too bad being a boss rarely delivers. I think it’s tremendously important for companies to create an equivalent “professional” track for those who just cannot lead a team but can create & innovate with great success!

  5. I agree about there being a need for people who aren’t great at being the boss to still be able to get ahead. Sometimes that “boss” position becomes a roadblock to their advancement and therefore acts as a strong disincentive.

    On the other hand, I’ve worked with people in IT who didn’t think they had the leadership skills nor did they especially want the responsibility, but with some coaching and a chance to lead (and maybe a few courses), they not only did well, they began to like it. A lot depends on the workplace itself and the attitude/creativity of management.

    But yes…there are also people I know who clearly never ever want to lead and they deserve a path that offers room for growth. The problem would be mathematical – only so many high level employees can be left dangling on an org chart without some hierarchy that includes an extra manager! (-;

  6. Sarah McNulty says:

    I’m so glad someone posted this. I was so exasperated this morning I Googled “I hate being the boss.”

    Its true; Most people dream about the day they can finally be in charge. Unfortunately now that I’m “The Boss” my life is a living hell. For one, I am obligated to work 12-14 hour days. This was cool at first since I’m a workaholic, but the now I’ve become jaded and the nice salary does me no good. The owner of our company makes the Worst business decisions, which forces me to “voice my opinion.” He usually takes my feedback seriously, but it’s like I’m his mother. He always needs to be reminded of the simplest things…

    The good business instinct and common sense is there in me, but managing people (including my boss) just stresses me out.

    Finally! I’ve made it to being “The Boss!” And it sucks!

    • Wow. I thought the training (or re-training) one’s boss was a problem specific to my workplace. Good to know I’m not alone, but it’s sad. My boss says he’s going to reprimand people and then doesn’t. I guess he aims to avoid confrontation, but then I’ll prepare my employees for the upcoming potential fallout, and then there’s NOTHING. Makes me look like a liar and/or my employee is now involved in something she did not even need to be concerned with (IF nothing was going to happen, that is.). Sometimes he does the opposite, which also makes me look like I don’t know how to manage. It…Sucks.

  7. Hi Sarah!

    How I feel your pain. Glad it helped to learn you are not alone. I remember once being promoted above two people who were at a higher level than me to begin with – and they spent the next 3 years shooting daggers at me. One day one of them came running in with a big smile on her face showing me an article in the newspaper saying that people with my body type are more likely to die of a heart attack. Really! She was beaming as she told me. All I could do was find things for them to do that gave them autonomy and kept them out of my face. Meanwhile I focused on lots of other stuff that needed special attention. But that situation was never going to be ideal for me as long as they were there. And they were lifers. Eventually I moved on – not for them; I learned to deal with the daggers. I moved on when I found something that matched me better. (I prefer to move towards rather than run from.)

    Speaking of moving towards…sometimes the best thing about being promoted to boss level is that it lets you look for a cool job somewhere else! Don’t sell yourself short. There are good situations out there where being the boss can actually be fun (at least some of the time) and there are others where you can manage a project with NO employees (or maybe one good one). And sometimes, it just allows you to move into a senior level job elsewhere where you are supporting someone high enough up to be challenging, but you have no staff.

    So, first decide whether it’s really that you don’t want to be a boss or it’s the particular situation you are in and the difficulty setting healthy boundaries because of how you rose up – and because of the boss you have now. There is always an upside to discovering what type of job you really want. For me…I realized I hated being a boss but LOVED challenge, and so I found a niche for myself (kind of through accident with a little chutzpah thrown in) and became a consultant earning a lot more money for less hours spent working.

    Just wanted to throw out a few ideas in case any of them resonate. If not, please know I really understand all too well that it is not all wine and roses being a boss. But some wine and roses might help. πŸ˜‰

    Good luck! Thanks for sharing your story with us.

    Ronnie Ann

  8. Hello again Sarah. Hope it’s ok to add one more thought. This may or may not apply in your case.

    Sometimes a situation like this is really more about managing ourselves and our boundaries than about managing those around us. This is such a common problem – and it’s a great epiphany moment in our careers when we finally get this. Luckily, there are classes out there that can help a manager learn about boundaries, healthy communication, and how to set-up a job so that we don’t keep recreating these situations.

    Where you are now it may not be possible to undo the organizational and behavioral structure that exists (then again, since you’re already managing up, learning some of the tricks of managing up might help improve things). But if you are thinking about moving on, it might just pay to take one of these work-life-changing classes (or find a book on the subject) so you can set things up in away that will make it less stressful for you from this moment forward. I only dared mention this because I was one of those people and had to learn ways to change what I was doing that set things up in ways that drove me crazy.

    If none of this rings true for you, never mind. As I always remind my readers, there’s no way I can hit the target every time from such a distance. So sometimes I just share what comes up for me and see if any of it helps!

    Ronnie Ann

  9. Sarah, I just had the same experience of being so exasperated I just searched for “I hate managing people”. I do. I really do. I am talented with people development and just relish teaching people new things and helping coach them to acquire skills they never even knew they had! It’s a thrill. I’m just better suited as a consultant or coach, not a supervisor.

    I’ve learned this after 3 years of being a branch manager at a large bank. The endless customer complaints, the endless “sick” days from team members, the endless sales pressure and endless corporate BS…all of it finally got to me. I finally said “enough already” and let my manager know that he’s more than welcome to fill my spot after May 2. I’m currently looking for work that will capitalize on my strengths and passions…and leaving behind what’s not working.

    It is truly a shame companies don’t have more options for talented employees to move up rather than in management. I face the challenge of what career advice I can offer my talented employees who want to stay with the company, but don’t want to be managers. It’s pretty tough to find work that pays well, is challenging and doesn’t involve managing others. The assumption that just because you are a good, reliable, intelligent and talented team member…that you will be a great manager is the norm and just not accurate.

    I’m looking forward to my freedom…and don’t care if I have to take a pay cut. My happiness is worth it!!

    • I’m with you. I love to coach, teach, train people to help them reach goals they choose. I was a tutor in high school and worked as a personal trainer for years. I was even good counseling drug addicts forced into treatment by the courts – because I focused on their getting the peace and health they wanted for themselves. Getting people (my staff) to do things other people (my own bosses) want them to do is just against my nature. I’d venture a guess that the natural coach often gets promoted to being boss – due to “good people skills” – and usually hates it.

  10. Congratulations Val for knowing what you want and don’t want. Why make yourself miserable when you have so many marketable skills? Life’s too short.

    Hmmm…sounds like you’d be perfect as a trainer/organizational development consultant. Consulting companies get paid huge $$$ to do this – and then they get to walk away. Some colleges/universities offer degrees or sometimes even certificates in those fields should you need an extra credential. Might be fun to get a bank to pay you twice what you’re making now to train their employees – and not have to manage them!

    But I agree that less money is well worth it if you find something more in synch with who you are; I’ve gone that route myself and never regretted it. And I also agree with you totally about the limited nature of career paths. There need to be other organizational options for people with high level skills (but who don’t want to be managers) to move up the ladder.

    Enjoy your freedom. And please feel free to let us know what you wind up doing. I love stories like yours. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Good luck!

    Ronnie Ann

  11. I too typed “I hate being a manager” into Google and found this site. It’s nice to see that I’m not the only one. There are benefits, no doubt, but I don’t think they’re worth it.
    I work constantly. I mean every single day of the year I am on call. Even when I’m on vacation I need to keep my phone with me in case of emergency. I am consumed almost every waking moment with work related issues and it is driving me nuts. My personal life feels like it’s a shambles, and my health is deteriorating.
    Wow. In typing this I think I just came to the conclusion that I must quit and find a new job. It is obvious.

  12. Wow, jmatt! How cool. Thank you for sharing your process with us.

    I agree. If this job is making you miserable and affecting your health and there is nothing you can do to fix it, then you owe it to yourself to find something that meets your real needs. Even if the salary is less, the “health benefits” will be MUCH better.

    As I’ve said so many times, not all jobs are the same – but we are. So when you start a new job, it’s important to bring the lessons from the old job with you. And remember to set boundaries – so you don’t just replicate the old conditions! If you do start looking, be as careful interviewing the company as they are in interviewing you. Try to get a feel for the way they treat employees and what they expect.

    Good luck, jmatt! Would love to hear how it goes.

    Oh…and for anyone reading this…if you are miserable in your job, you might want to try writing a letter to yourself. Don’t stop to think or edit. By the time you’re done, you may see things more clearly too.

    Ronnie Ann

  13. It seems to me that while I am in agreement with most of the comments here (I too typed in “I hate managing people”), there is one thing you guys seem to be getting which I don’t – the decent salary! I am below 20k per year managing 17 people for one of the biggest banks in the world. I hate being the bad guy, I hate people forgetting I am a person too, I hate the unrealistic deadlines and I hate not getting paid for the overtime I do (around 3 hrs per day) managers in our company do not get paid a penny for overtime, or get given any time back. Most of my employees take home more than I do because they get paid for overtime. I am desperately seeking another role which does not involve people management, yet which is still challenging – unfortunately (as many agencies have advised would happen) I get pigeon holed and am only wanted for other managing roles! I have only GCSE qualifications, no degree (due to bad choices at the not-so-wise age of 16), I have a mortgage to pay so cannot go back to college or take an entry level job which necessitates a pay cut. Most months I go 1 – 2 weeks without any food in my cupboard because after bills etc, I am left with nothing, leaving me wondering why I put myself through this misery when I don’t even have anything to show for it…. Where the hell do I go now?

  14. Hi Hannah!

    Oh how I wish I could come there and give you a big hug! You seem like a bright person with much to offer, and yet the circumstances do not make it easy for you…to say the least.

    I live in the U.S. and unfortunately don’t know what it’s like there – especially when it comes to asking for raises. If you lived here, I’d suggest you read a few of my posts on that topic. (Look under the Salary and benefits category.) Certainly, at the very least, a case could be made for a raise.

    But I know that isn’t your real issue. You want a way out of that hole that keeps you from a job you could truly shine at. Or at least one that gets you out of the managing role! πŸ™‚

    I’ve worked in banking and was actually in a major bank’s training program. Any chance you could prepare a great presentation and take it to your boss, asking that you be put into one of their training programs? Would it work against you to ask? This could open up so many doors – and even get you to a job that might pay for further education.

    Other than that, the only thing I would suggest from my experience here, is to network as much as possible (see posts in that category on this blog), trying to find someone to take a chance on you. The main trick is to know in your heart how much you can offer them and let them see your enthusiasm and determination.

    After a while a job like the one you have and things like not having enough food!!! wear your spirit down. I’m so sorry. But the one thing I can tell you is that even from this short comment, I see someone with great potential.

    One other thought about that mortgage…and I know this is really reaching…is there any way to give yourself more flexibility so you can go back to school? Roommate? Selling the house and renting? Anything??? An investment in yourself now (or rearranging something), can help build a future that you will look forward to. Doing the same thing probably won’t get you to different results. πŸ˜‰

    I know this sounds like just words, but I know from my own life there is always something you can do…even if it means shaking things up. I can’t give you the exact answer, but I have a feeling with a little encouragement you’ll find a way. Sometimes feeling trapped can actually help us break out of a path that isn’t working. I wouldn’t say that if I hadn’t experienced my own “dead ends” along the way – and broken free even though it felt impossible. Please know you can do it. There is an answer.

    I wish you much luck, Hannah, finding someone or something that will help you get to a better job and life!

    Ronnie Ann

  15. Hi Ronnie Ann!

    I was pleased to find your website. I, too, hate being a boss–but it is because of the way I am treated by the people I am supposed to manage.

    I am the executive director for a small non-profit in the US – after having spent many, many years overseas. I took this job in July 2008.

    In my 4 months here I have faced tax problems and debt collections dating back years that have never been properly handled in the past. Added to the credit crunch and budget cut-backs, I have employees who are very scared. I understand that.

    However, these employees do not help–they constantly demand I fix the money problems- which I am trying to do– but they keep the problems hidden so I am constantly discovering some new dilemma. They refuse to share information with me- they refuse even to report to me on projects which they are working on or to fully explain issues to me. When I ask them direct questions they answer in monosyllables. They misrepresent and lie. I have never before worked with such rude, abrasive people ( it is actually only two people–but they infect everyone else with their attitude.)

    Part of the problem is that this non-profit went for almost 18 months without an Executive Director before they hired me. During that time there was an interim ED on a part-time basis for a few months and the prior ED was also part-time for several months before she left, but was a colleague on an equal basis before she went part-time so everything was treated a group of girlfriends.

    These experiences allowed the staff to make all the decisions for themselves and the projects they were doing with very little oversight. I understand the independence they had and I have tried to give them alot of leeway.
    I have told them collectively and individually that I support the work they have done and regard them as the ‘experts’ in their individual jobs.

    However, they still do not share and instead go out of their way to snub me in a very small office. In addition they use charge cards inappropriately and sign onto contracts/reports which should be going through me without my knowledge. With the financial problems we face, I do not feel comfortable taking on the responsibilities they sign this organization to meet.

    I have spoken about this with the President of the Board of Directors who has told me that one of the reasons they wanted to hire me was because I was ‘so nice and polite’ that they hoped some of it would rub off on the employees. The staff has since pressured the Pres on issues that I had decided on (mainly financial cutbacks which resulted in having to refuse conference attendance in distant cities-a big expense for a small non-profit). The complained to the Pres. It was very much like a child going between Mom and Dad trying to get their way. Now the Pres has told us she intends to resign from the Board by the end of the year. She was my best ally.

    In all, I know that I am miserable here-but having spent so long away from the US, I have no good references either career or personal (other than this job) that I can rely upon if I look for another job. Trying to use my foreign references to get this job proved quite difficult in itself. Also, because of the debt and tax issues I mentioned earlier, it does not seem that the non-profit will last another year (especially if everyone wants to keep going on trips).

    I am not sure how it will look to leave this job-without references – especially if the non-profit is out of business in the next few months–which seems likely.

    Any advice or insight you can give would be appreciated.

    Thanks for your help.


  16. Wow Karen! This is a tough one. Luckily I’ve had some experience in the non-profit world, so that should help me think this through. I have some ideas already, but want to take a little time before answering. Be back in a day or two. Meanwhile…you have my deepest sympathy and support!

    Ronnie Ann

  17. Hi Karen,

    Thanks for your patience. The more I thought about this, the more I saw the complexity of your situation and realized there is way too much I still don’t know. In fact, even if you were to bring me in as an organizational consultant and I could see things first-hand, from what you tell me we would need at least 3-6 months to get things back on track!

    But, with that caveat in mind, and since you need answers NOW, here are some thoughts. Not sure any will be of help, but at least I want to give you a little moral support – you sure need it!

    First, I’m confused about taxes being owed by a non-profit, which should be tax exempt. May I assume these are employment taxes and/or taxes on revenues unrelated to your non-profit mission? What an awful mess for you to be cleaning up! Where was the Board when all this was happening? (No need to answer that one.) They have an official obligation to help.

    If your only “ally” is leaving the sinking ship, you need to get the rest of the Board…well, on board – and fast! I’d suggest a heart-to-heart with them with pointed questions about how they will support you in the transition and where they might pitch in to help. For instance, they might declare a period of financial austerity and impose temporary spending rules during this period of transition and, hopefully, rebirth.

    I have to say I had a visceral reaction when I read you were hired because you are “so nice and polite”. Didn’t they hire you because you’re a problem solver and strong manager? That’s what’s needed now. And they need to know that otherwise they are tying your hands behind your back. You can be nice and strong at the same time. But the Board needs to know the truth and support you. (Tip for working with them: focus on concrete facts rather than details about individuals at this point.) And while your “ally” is there, she needs to help make this happen for you – otherwise she is no ally!

    As for the employees, sounds like you’ve done some good things, but at this critical junction, they need to take ownership of helping find solutions. And they need to trust and respect you. All that takes time to build and unfortunately time is short. Not an easy challenge!

    But…I believe you could enlist the help of the others – not THOSE two. In fact, don’t give those two so much power. You need to find ways to isolate them and minimize their impact while expanding the influence of the others as you work to win them over even more. You could even call a meeting and create a small task force from a few of the friendlier ones, and then meet with them to find ways to turn things around. They need to know the place can go under unless you all work together. And they need to know you and the Board are doing your best NOT to let that happen – but you need their help.

    Keep everyone informed using e-mail and or regular meetings (more important than ever during this time) and let them know you are all working together and suggestions from everyone are welcome – your door is always open.

    OK. Those are just two starting points. There is so much more to the story and solution, but without being able to dig into the facts, I will stop here.

    Why did I start with what you could do at this awful job rather than addressing the question of “How to get current references in the U.S.”? Because your best bet is to roll up your sleeves and try to make this work – at least for now. You’ll never win them all over and you may not save the place, but you can make progress by creating REAL allies in the workplace and on the Board. And, as an added benefit, you will become a better manager in the process.

    You might as well give it a shot for as long as possible. Not only will you possibly see some positive results you can quantify (no miracles – just progress…for example helped decrease the debt by x%), but you still have the chance to create relationships that can become references. Your current Board president as well as the others are all potential references if you show them you are a fighter who does all she can to make a bad situation better.

    And don’t be shy about letting them know you inherited an almost impossible situation (give them clear objective examples) and intend to do your best to make things better. Set goals with them and enlist their help and the help of your task force and cooperative employees to make this work. And if you can’t win over and have to fire the two trouble-makers, well that’s what a good leader sometimes has to do. (Who knows? If they know you’re serious and are not afraid of them, they may just start to work with you.) But you need the Board on your side to be able to carry any of this out effectively.

    All right. That’s a lot to take in. πŸ™‚ And I know some of it may not apply. But hopefully from all I wrote, you will see some solutions that ring true for you and allow you to hang in long enough to establish references in the United States – and maybe even help you turn around the company. But if the board is not willing, well…then we need to talk about your next move.

    Oh…and references also come from fellow leaders of non-profits, government officials, business people. Are you networking? This is your time to take the bull by the horns and show you are more than “nice and polite”. You are a leader! Even if you stay a few more months, you can use your position to help find the next one by meeting as many people as possible as part of your quest to turn things around. But I assure you…this is not a task you or anyone can do alone!

    Good luck, Karen. Please let us know how it goes.

    Ronnie Ann

  18. I also typed “I hate being a manager” into my google search. I recently graduated from college, and with the economy the way it is I feel extremly lucky to have found a job that pays so well. Only thing is….I never realized I HATE managing others. Don’t get me wrong, I love to be a leader, to teach, to coach, but my job at a major retail organization demands me to be a manager most of the time. We have cut hours by almost half and expect double the productivity. Oh how this would work in a perfect world. I just get talked down to by my boss for not “building an empire” in 60 days. They hired and never dealt with employees who are unproductive and not suited for their positions. So here I am, the rookie, coming in and being forced to “manage” everyone out of a job. I assumed as a “boss” that I would get a great schedule and work balance life style. All that is out the door. I am salary, based on 40hrs/week, when in all actuality I am working at least 70-80 hours a week! Most days I am too busy to even sit down to eat or find time to go to the restroom.

    • This is the typical retail situation. Wait until the recession to implement ways you can cut employees and ask more of the ones remaining. Retail managers are faced with how things are supposed to look on paper vs the real world.

  19. Hi Samantha!

    Unfortunately, you’re not alone in what you’re feeling. I’m so sorry you have to deal with all this. Some places make managing – which actually can be enjoyable at times – feel like a constant uphill climb…especially in these tough economic times.

    In general, certain industries may be better than others – or at least certain employers. I hope you get to experience that too. But maybe this is also a chance to explore what you really want to do. You say “I love to be a leader, to teach, to coach” – maybe there are fields you might enjoy more…like teaching or coaching – or even training, perhaps.

    Thanks for stopping by to share your experience. I wish you the best of luck!

  20. What a great page this is! I never aspired to be promoted but was encouraged by my manager to apply when a position became available. I was flattered enough and slightly bored with my job to throw caution to the wind and take the job… Unfortunately it was a time of great upheaveal in my workplace and it was enormously stressful. I suspected there was a reason I never aspired to management, and like Hannah there was no real extra money to make up for it either! I didn’t want to quit just because I was having trouble adjusting to the job, but by the same token didn’t want to feel so miserable all the time. The relentless hounding by 50 staff to fix endless problems and mistakes, dealing with staff shortages with ever increasing targets, performance managing lazy or incompetent people (hired inappropriately as a “quick-fix” to the staff shortages), training up staff for other sites or training those who just never stayed (there is a 40% drop-off rate in the first 12 months!) And don’t forget pride, none of us like to feel like we’ve failed… After all that, when the stress was more manageable, I discovered that I could do the job, but I just didn’t want to. Everyone was shocked when I asked to be demoted and said they thought I had been doing a great job – but at what price? I don’t want this experience to make me feel incapable of taking responsiblity again, I hope that it was just this particular job. But the day I resigned from that position was the happiest day I’ve had for a long time πŸ™‚

  21. And BTW Ronnie Ann, your wise and supportive words have obviously been a great help to all these people – well done.

  22. Hi Angela!

    What a great comment!!! Thank you. And thank you also for the kind words. I think your own words here will be very helpful to others; so if you don’t mind, I’ll probably turn it into a post.

    Congratulations on making a really smart move. We not only have to know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em…we have to know who we are and who we aren’t.

    You’re right in thinking it might just be this job and there are other management spots out there you could thrive in. Then again…you may also find ways to take on new challenges (I did it by consulting) without being a manager, should that wind up being better for you.

    Best of luck!

    Ronnie Ann

  23. Also came here through google… i think this comment thread should be used as a venting / I’m not alone apparatus until the dawn of the interwebs times.

  24. Hi jm!

    I’m thinking of starting a forum on this blog. May just have to add this as a topic. Thanks. And sorry you had to even google this. πŸ˜‰

    ~ Ronnie Ann

  25. Another point to bring up is that when you are the boss, you can’t be friends with or hang out with the people you spend your days with. I found that this was the single most difficult thing to deal with. I had nothing in common with other leaders in the building. It wasn’t me. I am a hard worker, but I am also a nonconformist. I could only sell out so much until the conflict with my personality causes me to have increased allergies and arthritis flare-ups. I gave up the extra money, went back to school, and have more friends than I ever have.

  26. Wow thanks for this. I too came here from typing “I hate being a boss” and found this article. So many resources out there for employees who have terrible bosses. But nothing for middle managers who are feeling caught between employees and upper management.

    Which is my dilemma. My boss gives me what seems like a clear goal and I move to act on it.

    Employees then complain I’m being too tough and next my boss admonishes me for it. Only later to praise me for increased productivity or goals being reached.

    The only thing I can say I like about my job is the pay. I’ve become really withdrawn at work recently, not speaking to my boss or the team I’m in charge of unless I have too.

    He also jokes with employees about how “mean” I am. I once caught him joking with an employee. Suggesting that I would kick a co-workers barking little dog! I was really hurt, I happen to be an animal lover and would never do anything like that.

    So here I am stuck in the middle and doing my best to avoid unpleasant conflict. Because I’m always the one who’s supposedly wrong (even though my boss praises my toughness in private).

    I feel like I’ve been forced into a game of good cop/bad cop with no way out.

    This is a good paying job, with bonuses and benefits. Not easy to find in the current economy (yes I’ve looked).

  27. Hi Gerri!

    I really feel your pain. I’ve been put in similar situations in my own work life. Only you know what works best for you, but it does sound like your being put in a very uncomfortable position that may in the long run not be the best for you. And I have a few choice words for our boss, even though I won’t share them here. πŸ˜‰

    I understand about pay and each person of course needs to decide the balance for themselves, but for a different perspective, see what Amy says in the comment above yours.

    I wish you all the luck. If it helps, feel free to stop by on occasion and let us know how you’re doing. I wish you all the best!

    ~ Ronnie Ann

  28. Thanks Ronnie! Yes Amy’s comment was helpful! I’m thinking about moving on..but now probably isn’t the right time.

    I’ve pulled back a lot. Being reduced to near tears, anger, and frustration at work isn’t good. I am proud of myself. I’ve been subtely putting my boss in the position to do his own dirty work. I get pulled in every now and then but I’m getting better at recognizing when I’m being manipulated into being the “bad guy”.

    I agree in the long-run this isn’t the best situation. I did take a management seminar recently and it helped a little. Thanks for listening..

  29. Sounds like you’re handling it as well as anyone could. Sometimes situations like this – especially as you work to make it a bit more tolerable – are a great place to begin thinking about steps that will get you to an even better place eventually.

    Best of luck, Gerri!

    ~ Ronnie Ann

  30. Well Ronnie…I’m back on your page again, but instead of angsting about not getting the offer letter it’s because I now have 5 people reporting to me and I hate it. I spent 8 years in my last job as a happy individual contributor. I knew I wouldn’t like being a manager but it really is worse than I thought. I’m taking steps to make it more pallatable, but I’m not sure if I will stay in this environment. I am in a public sector company with “lifers” who have never been accountable for their performance. I don’t want to spend the last 10 years of my career having the work I love being ruined by having to drag a staff behind me. Sorry to sound so negative, but I’m really down about this right now.

  31. Hi jcny!

    I’m so sorry to be reading this. We were all so excited when you got your new job. But these things happen. I’ve certainly started a few “uh oh” jobs of my own.

    As I said in the post, sometimes it’s about the specific job (and environment), but sometimes it’s just that we don’t like to manage. Your words “I spent 8 years in my last job as a happy individual contributor” may really be the answer, but of course only you can figure that out.

    Personally I find consulting a nice hybrid, where I get to work at a challenging level, offering ideas and suggestions, but not having to deal with as much of the managerial bs…especially the administrative processes and rules that come with a government workplace.

    I wish you MUCH luck deciding what you want to do and then making it happen. The good news…if I may offer some…is if you do decide to move on, your reason is a great one. Knowing who you are and aren’t can only benefit your next employer. Please let us know what happens!

    ~ Ronnie Ann

  32. This site is so therapeutic! God bless you Ronnie Ann! I didn’t realize that so many others felt the same way I did. For the last 7 months I’ve felt like such a failure and an ingrate for not liking my well paid job… now I know that I need to find what a job that makes me happy!

    I have been a department store manager for 7 years. I never really enjoyed it, but have stayed in the industry because I’m good at what I do. And just like everyone else on this blog, I was lured into management by the pay, but I’m more than willing to give up my six figure salary for a change in scenery and to regain my work-life balance.

    Again, thank you go giving me the piece of mind to sleep well tonight =)

    • I’m going to take baby steps… I’m going to start looking for a job in a smaller retailer, go back to earn my master’s degree what I’ve recently discovered is my true passion… HR/recruiting =)

  33. Hi Patty!

    So sorry to have taken this long to get back to you. Your comments are GREAT! They’re the reason I write this blog – and an inspiration to people in similar situations to yours.

    Love your decision. Makes total sense. Realization, determination and baby steps…exactly!!

    I wish you all the best, Patty. Please feel free to let us know how you’re doing. Thanks so much for sharing this.

    ~ Ronnie Ann

  34. Allison says:

    Ronnie Ann,
    Thank you for tthis Website. Like many of your followers, I’m am exasparated!! Anyone ever dealt with a subordinate bully? Any advice?? She bullies me into decisions I don’t want to make. I get zippo respect.

  35. Hi Allison!

    That must be so frustrating for you. I think being a boss is a lot like being a parent…especially when you get employees like the one you have.

    I don’t know enough to offer suggestions since it depends on the way the relationship is set up and so much more. Do you have the ability to hire and fire? Do you do annual or semi-annual reviews that can affect her standing and raises? Do you chicken out of being firm? What happens when you say no and stick to it?

    Like with any parent-child relationship, once they see they can bully you they know they can get away with more and more. And certain types are fed by this ability to get over on a parental figure. There must be a way for you to sit down with the person and set some limits and goals with them where you take over as boss again. Or at least i hope there is. πŸ˜‰

    And if this is a government job…I have been in a management role in government and feel your pain even more. But I dug in and kept writing up incidents with a certain bully of my own and finally got them out of my department…even though I was made to be the ogre…at least by him. I decided not to keep it secret (bullies thrive on secrecy) and enlisted allies in fellow management and support staff. It helped. Things like this can be tough to solve alone.

    I wish you much luck…or a new job. πŸ˜‰ Please let us know how things are going for you!

  36. Just want to say thanks to Barbara Saunders for adding so nicely to the conversation. Please feel free to stop by any time!

  37. The Work Coach Cafe Team

  38. I was promoted to sales supervisor and I hate with a passion. I got the job because no one else wanted to step up. I decided to go for it and I regret it now. I don’t know how to tell my boss that I am not cut out for it. I was happier when I was just a customer service rep and helping people.

    • Gil,

      So sorry to hear about your experience. You are not the first person to fall into this particular problem. Be honest, and if you can — wait until you have another potential opportunity in your back pocket — before you talk to your boss.

      Good luck and all the best,

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