3 Things Nobody Tells Their Boss, But Should…

My company Sevenly has over 40 employees. We have executives, managers, assistants, and everyone in between. I've hired, fired, and managed hundreds of people and would call myself “experienced” in the employee boss relationship.

I believe work is special. It's a place we should feel safe, happy, and encouraged. Sadly, I often see the opposite. As fear creeps into the employee mentality, many choose passive over voice, settle over growth, and silence over affirmation. It's time to speak up. Your managers are big boys and girls. They can handle the truth – just be sure to deliver it with love.

3 Things Nobody Tells Their Boss, But Should…


This can be tricky and should be done in private. But opening with a statement like, “can I be honest with you?” will really help.  When a boss is working people too hard, saying inappropriate comments, and taking matters too far, someone must say “stop”. While we live in an imperfect world with broken people and failing systems we cannot always rely on our bosses boss to speak first. We must remember, courage can come from anywhere. From the CEO, a manager, and from you. You are not a piece of a machine. You're a human. Your input is valuable and you should stand for what is right – regardless of where you sit on the corporate ladder.

I Believe in You

On the flip-side, there is a common belief that affirming your superiors is a blunder of professional boundaries. On the contrary, it's quite encouraging. Every leader desires confirmation of their leadership. This notion of goodwill often times grows the relationship between the staff member and the manager even further. It's a win-win 🙂

I'm not Happy Here

We spend 1/3 of our lives working. If you're unhappy here, you're just plain miserable. But don't quit just yet. Ask to speak to your boss in private. Be prepared to share with sincerity why you're unhappy. Is it the commute? Is it the pay? Is it a fellow colleague? Maybe it's your boss himself. Whatever it is, be brave enough to speak up. It's your happiness we're talking about. Sure, this conversation may end up with you on the job market, but more often then not, you will end up with a fixed situation. A refreshed workplace and the ability to wake up at 7:00am with excitement, rather than dread.

Have you told your boss something risky?


This blog post was written by an independent guest contributor.
Author Name: D Patridge.

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59 Responses

  1. I’ve told my boss, “one thing appreciate about you is…” I feel everyone wants to feel appreciated. So I will tell her this every now and then.

  2. I’m doing the math here and it just doesn’t add up. Your company has 40 employees I checked and it’s about 2+ years old. You are late 20s. You’ve “hired and fired and managed hundreds of employees”. Either you are the worst boss in the world, or you manage the worse environment, or you think exaggerating isn’t as lie. Nobody goes through that many employees in the time span you’re talking about.

  3. We live in a dishonest world where the rules are made by ones who have other interest at heart than mine, or yours for that matter. Some have posted positive results. Unfortunately a drama unfolded when I stood up for what I believed was right. I defended a co-worker and the result was dramatic. 6 employees, including myself were ‘dismissed’ without a real reason other than that they wanted to change strategy. The boys all moved on, but I was hurt, badly. I did not manage to reap the benefits of doing what was right. I don’t regret it, and yes, the company was not worth our time and energy. However I’d like to point out that thinking positive thought is not neccesarily going to make it all ok…. So far I have not been able to find employment and convince others that integrity is a asset.

  4. I had the courage to tell my boss that I am attracted to her, and that when I go home, I can’t help but miss her. Also I told her about how on some nights when I am lying in bed, I shift to the left, and Imagine that she is right there with me, and that we are gazing at each others eyes. It’s a fast food environment, but it’s actually an amazing experience in terms of human behavior, and be a quite hospitable work place. This would be my 35 day at work. What do you think?

    1. I think that she’s probably slightly creeped out. Personally, I would have left out “Also I told her about how on some nights when I am lying in bed, I shift to the left, and Imagine that she is right there with me, and that we are gazing at each others eyes” . Inappropriate.

    2. I would be really careful admitting this. Could be grounds for an accusation of sexual harassment.

    3. Yes you need to be careful. If you have feelings for a co-worker as strongly as you do, my best advice is to find another job. Dating within the work environment is never encouraged and sometimes it is prohibited completely. Just be very careful because you are crossing some serious lines that could really hurt you in the end.

  5. I like this article, but disagree with the comment (paraphrasing) that you may be out of a job for being honest about why you are unhappy. No, no, no…this is never OK and is why people are afraid to be honest about it in the first place. You should be able to express this, with no concern as how it’s interpreted. Isn’t that your boss’ problem if he/she isn’t thrilled with your unhappiness? Too bad, suck it up boss. Just because someone isn’t happy at the workplace doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t stuck there, at the moment. People need to work! What REALLY needs to happen is managers should get a thicker skin and ACCEPT if they are failing as a leader. I know of a company that actually has an inverted corporate pyramid where the underlings rate the boss’ performance.

    Now…that’s not to say that the unhappy employee should not be responsible for coming up with reasonable solutions, for consideration. And some things can’t be fixed and the employees need to suck it up sometimes too. This is a two-way street. We all need to participate in making things better.

  6. I’m a teacher at a private I am in love with my students and my job. I stay late, cooperate, and never complain. My new boss called me into his office along with the school director and told me they sensed unhappiness in me. I told them I didn’t understand why they would think that and I received an explanation including: a lateness, a student misbehaving, a student undergoing reevaluation from my recommendation etc. I left that conversation making it very clear I loved my job and making them aware of how much I love my second grade class. I didn’t feel they answered my question and now I’m paranoid and discouraged. How do I address this? Email asking for another meeting? What do I say? I don’t want to sound stupid. I want them to knoiw I feel discouraged now

    1. I think you should make a list trying to remember what they said in the meeting with rebuttal statements, but while writing it out think about how they said things. Maybe they didn’t explain what they were saying in the right words.

  7. I’ve told my boss “stop” before when I was worked too hard. I did present it as “this is a big strain on the team” and because of my known results, things did change. It was great. When I don’t mention things or speak up, this weird resentment comes in…when in reality i am resenting myself for not speaking up.

    On the contrary one time I told my boss I was unhappy. Two days later I left the company. It was a really hard time in my life, but looking back, it was the change I much needed and brought me to a much better place…the place I am now.

  8. I have only been at my job a couple of months and I really dread going in each morning. This is the first job I have had after years on disability so at first I thought it was just me not wanting to work. Being lazy I suppose. That is not true though. It is a cooking job and I just don’t have the energy for it and the ability to deal with the stress.

    The problem is being in such close quarters with my boss (aka Chef)I feel I am slapping him in the face. He kind of went out on a limb for me but when he hired me I honestly thought I could handle the constant physicality of the job. The hours are too much for me to handle and I didn’t think that they would be. How do I tell my boss and someone who took a risk on me that I bit off more than I could chew? Especially when they are sorry employees to begin with.

    1. Exactly what you just said. I really thought I was ready and able to do this job, but it turns out that my body just isn’t able to physically keep up.

  9. My Boss is one of the most erratic people I’ve ever met. One minute she’s fine and smiling, and the next she’s going off on someone. If she feels disrespected by a person (God forbid you roll your eyes at her!) she bites their head off. While lecturing an outside employee that he cannot contact a client’s family member directly (we’re a personal services company), and must come through the office for everything, she spoke in a strong, overly harsh voice, getting more and more angry and confrontational as she repeated herself several times. Basically it was “I’m your Boss, I write your paycheck, you talk to me”. Jeez, alright already. When she left the employee was in tears. Afterward, my Boss asked me if I thought the employee had understood. I told her he had, but that he had been uncomfortable with the way things were presented, that it wasn’t what she said, but how she said it when dealing with people that made it unnecessarily hard.

    Kudos for me! I can’t believe I had the guts to say that, but someone had to. There is no reason to lunge at employees like a spitting tiger, with no warning, and then get upset because the boss perceives their “deer in the headlights” look while being attacked as disrespectful.

    I’m about to go through this again because my Boss apparently got upset with my showing emotional distress in front of some employees recently. Gee, uh, I found out my Dad could be dying in hospital – so sorry to be so unreasonably upset! A boss gets to tell you what to do, but they don’t get to tell you how to FEEL. I’m so done with her!

    1. All of this is reasonable, but you shouldn’t roll your eyes at anyone in work (or generally) it’s rude.

  10. By the way, my post below is only a fraction of what I’ve experienced with this boss so far and I just passed my 90 day mark yesterday. Two employees have quit since I began work.

  11. I started a new career about 5 months ago. Took the first job that was offered to me because someone I know from school was working there at the time. I felt really excited about the opportunity to begin in this field. I’d been in school for a long time to transition into this line of work. Things appeared to be going fairly well for the first couple of months. Of course there were struggles with the learning curve, and I felt a large amount of stress trying to keep up with this fast-paced environment where things like schedules would change on a dime. But I felt I was learning and growing and making some effective improvements in my clients’ lives. During this training period, unbeknownst (naive?) to me, people were observing my every move. There were ‘mis-steps’ that were being documented, but I was not made aware of them for months. Ultimately, when I was approached about these deeds, I was advised that I was teetering on the brink of “inappropriate behavior”. I was blindsided. First problem with this, as I saw it, was “How can anything inappropriate in nature *not* be addressed immediately so the behavior stops?” Second, why wouldn’t my immediate supervisor confront me and discuss these issues, if indeed they might pose a risk to a client or cause potential litigation if misconstrued? Instead, I was called in to the Director’s office and advised of these ‘transgressions’. I spoke about how all of the issues being discussed appeared ambiguous at best; both the director and my supervisor agreed with me, but nonetheless, there were still concerns. I felt a state of shock set in: Could it possibly be that I was so blind to my own behavior or had no insight into what was deemed ‘appropriate client contact’ that my actions ever could have risked even a small potential of harm to a client? I didn’t think so–but then again, we’re human and during the course of interacting with people, we make mistakes. OK. So I was willing to critically examine my actions and take accountability for everything. But then, three weeks later, I was called in for a second time with new allegations against me–the problem is, nearly all the ‘new’ allegations pre-existed the first conversation–my supervisor was commingling old issues with new ones to the point that I looked pretty bad. When I parsed out what actually were the new allegations, I realized that there was a significant amount of micromanaging and uptightness going on that I could not solve; this was part and parcel of the climate at this agency. I could either live with it and work within such constricted confines, or I could let them know I felt our employment arrangement was not a good fit; I chose the latter. While I was courteous and professional, I told them that I didn’t think things were going to work out between us, but also that I could not afford to resign because I’d need UI. As an alternative, I advised both director and supervisor to consider options to retaining my services so there wouldn’t be a gap in services provided to our clients. It’s been over two weeks and I haven’t heard back from them–at all. Not to discuss the nature of our meeting, nor to provide any space to process how I might be feeling with respect to the nature of the conversation. Since this time, my supervisor has cut back on our weekly supervision and only speaks to me when absolutely necessary.

    To compound the issue, there is a component of my job description that I A) Am not good at; B) Did not anticipate being a significant portion of my daily duties; and C) Is not something I enjoy at all. I have been in near-daily training to learn this skill and I still have not gotten any better. I have advised them of this every step of the way, and they were aware of this weakness, as I was monitored by them at all times. During our last meeting, I was presented with a letter, which I did not sign, stating that passing a quiz for this training was part of the conditions of my employment. I took the quiz and did not pass it. I was subsequently scheduled to meet with someone from another department to discuss the results.

    As you can imagine, these ‘reprimands’, lack of skill in this particular area, and the stressors of the daily job grind were really eating at me. Not only that, but having the realization that every move I made was documented and discussed with others in the department made me begin to feel very demoralized. In retrospect, I realize now why so many colleagues were distant and aloof; it made for quite an unpleasant working environment (not to mention that I am significantly older than everyone there).

    With all this going on, I work in a building that is ‘toxic’ by any standard–truthfully, it should be reported to OSHA for several health violations. It’s a residential facility where seriously mentally ill people with substance abuse issues live. The toxicity stems from many points, most of which are due to not having adequate janitorial staff to maintain cleanliness; vapors from illicit drugs, cigarette smoke, malodorousness from lack of hygiene, house and fruit flies breeding in the air duct system, and no way to open a window in the hallways. My respiratory system is already vulnerable and compromised due to having breathed in so many fumes from 9/11. Inhaling these odors on a daily basis got me very, very sick. In fact, I had been sick for approximately 4 months out of the 5 I worked there.

    The last Saturday felt like the final straw. This was the day after I had taken the quiz and knew I didn’t do well. This particular component of my job is the Number 1 priority to accomplish on Saturdays; no way to even get out of it. That day happened to be a particularly harsh struggle, challenging my level of patience to continue doing this work. Additionally, I had aches, pains, sinus pressure, and an upper respiratory infection. Basically, I felt like total crap–still. At one point, I was so taken aback by the malodorousness of my environment that I physically wretched twice. With all this, a co-worker expressed a lot of impatience with my lack of skill performing this duty. I finally felt like I was being broken. I truly had nothing left of feeling except the feeling that I was sick and this was not working out.

    After I got off from work that night, I went to bed until Monday afternoon, at which point I realized I had to call the doctor and get seen to treat these symptoms. I couldn’t get in until Tuesday. During this time, a nagging voice in my head kept asking me why I was struggling so much to keep a job that was such a bad fit. What did anyone have to gain, either my employer, myself, or my clients, if I was no good to myself physically or emotionally? I composed a list of the pros and cons of my predicament. It became very evident that I needed to leave this job. Unfortunately, the timing couldn’t have been more inopportune, given that I couldn’t go to work, given how ill and fatigued I felt. I made up my mind to take care of myself and decided to resign no matter the consequences. My spouse said I had all the support I needed to do this, so I wrote my letter. While I was at it, I wrote an exit interview letter detailing all of the above and emailed it to my director. I did not hear from her or my supervisor, in fact, I still have not heard from them. On my way back from a second medical appointment, I dropped off copies of my resignation letter, exit interview, and medical summary to HR, made copies for my director and handed back my keys and ID card in the same envelope. I still have not heard from anyone from this agency, not even HR.

    I sit here wondering if I’m in some sort of Hell. I guess in a way I am if I believe the adage that “The road Hell is paved with good intentions”. All I ever wanted was to do a job that would help other, less fortunate people improve their quality of life. All I ever intended to demonstrate at my job was that I could be an excellent and tireless advocate for my clients. What wound up happening is that I doubt that any of the good I did will ever be seen amidst the rubble of what remains of the memories I have of this job, not to mention my now-sullied reputation at my former place of employment. If they talked about all my misdeeds without ever consulting me until it was too late, I don’t even want to imagine what they’re saying about me now. I know their perspective is going to be harsh; after all, they’re now stuck dividing up my work amongst themselves. Although I had mentioned in my note to my director that I would remain available to discuss and update them on anything client-related, my email was shut down yesterday. I am presuming that they want to cut ties with me to preserve agency confidentiality and because they’re angry. And, it may seem to them that my resignation is just further evidence of my lack of professionalism, rather than coming from a place of knowing when enough is enough and I couldn’t take any further mistreatment, misunderstanding, or miscommunication. I felt isolated and invalidated. Not a single opportunity to discuss what I was experiencing so I could alleviate some of my stress in order to work more effectively.

    I hope there are no reprisals for any of the self-protective actions I have taken. I’m still sick but feeling somewhat better–not better enough to expose myself to that toxic environment again.

    1. Reading your comment has really put an impression on me. Just remember, if things don’t fit.. don’t dwell on them. If the agency did not follow up with you or is talking about you harshly, don’t let it consume you. To me, you did the most professional thing anyone can do in such a situation. Everything you detailed showed complete professionalism and this experience, although may feel incomplete without closure from their end, has taught you that no matter how much you put in, if it’s not reciprocated there is not much more you can do.

      You said yourself that you “wanted.. to do a job that would help other, less fortunate people improve their quality of life.” One agency’s actions shouldn’t stop you from continuing this, but should only DRIVE you all the more to search for that really really good avenue that will allow you to wholeheartedly help others! I hope you find that avenue!

      All the best 🙂

    2. I am so sorry that you had to go through that at that job.
      Have you ever heard back from them or know what they could be saying to potential employers?
      I do hope that you are feeling better not only physically but mentally as well.
      We’re you able to get unemployment since you quit?
      Take care! Sara

  12. I started working at my new job six my months ago and realize that I do not enjoy it. I also think that I am the wrong person for the position. I want to tell my boss that they need to hire someone who is more qualified and I’m willing to quit, but how do I approach this without sounding like a quitter? I don’t want to burn any bridges and don’t want to leave them high and dry either. What should I say to my boss?

  13. Just started a new position, I have a good amount of management experience running restaurants but when I walked in for training, there were a good amount of things dirty and the management didnt seem to care.

    They rushed through service to customers and did attempt to make people happy but it all seemed really fake. I haven’t discussed it with my manager as I have only been working two days. But the minor things that were dirty were the reasons why they were having issues keeping up with customer flow later on. By pushing off the work they prevented a better experience for the customer, and unfortunately, a bad experience for me as I walked around doing a little cleaning as they stood around like I was a distraction. Im not really certain how to handle it. Im going over the details to speak with the store manager. Being a new employee with experience is difficult when the hierarchy sets specific standards, you understand them, and you see your bosses purposely failing to meet them.

  14. I have been working at my new job for 4 months now owned by 2 brothers that just bought the company from their mom(they don’t seem to know much about business) and it is in the line of what i studied, at first i was so exited to start as they made so many promises but now i have been here for 4 months and since the first day i was promised that i will be able to sign my contract soon, but still no sign of my contract and the bosses tell me that my work comes before my studies, well in a way i do understand that but the work i’m supposed to do is what I studied(finished this month) so i don’t understand how they can approach it in that way if i have to finish this studies before i can do that work like they want me to, i have been doing my studies at home but still they said that to me. so how do i approach this whole situation i cant seem to like it here even if i force myself its just not happening, i love working with clients and other designers but I don’t think this is the right place for me? please any advice will be greatly appreciated!!

  15. I have been an employee in a municipality for over 40 years. Only been written up one time because I had an accident and damaged a piece of equipment. almost a month ago my union president, neither of us like each other, struck me across my chest because i reached in front of him at the time clock to punch out. Along with the physical aggression there was a verbal assault. I shut up and left work without speaking. The next day we were called into the office of the director. I previously turned in a parer stating what happened. He went in and lied and has intimidated the witnesses into basically not seeing anything or turning it around that ii pushed him. The director is fed up with everyone on the crew and said she has not gotten the same story from anyone. So she has concluded that we just stay away from each other. There is a zero tolerance policy but this is being swept under the carpet. If I push it she can turn around and suspend me because she has done that before. What alternatives do I have?

  16. I never fit in I always get these vibes that everyone is talking behind my back and now where I work this is literal. I try to open up, but it just goes south real quick! like today I ask the supervisor if he felt the tension in the break room he turn it completely around and stated yeah everybody is tense ! he even feels it having to deal with unreasonable people. That is not what I meant then when I walk away and return to my desk he was in the cube next to mine and immediately him and another supervisor who had snatched a piece of paper out of my hand the other day and stated “Oh I didn’t mean to do that ” I felt she did this same supervisor sort out a note to confront me on when all I did was leave out dates that could easily be seen on the schedule. Wow am I that hard to get along with I say nothing I make little conversation cause it hurts to try to start or join in a conversation when all you get is silence. I don’t feed into gossip. I feel that a person who talks about others will talk about you. I need this job and am tired of trying when no one else does not even those in charge. I really thought that when you speak to someone in private especially a person in charge it should stay private am I wrong?

  17. I really like your blog. I have a question that I would like an honest opinion. After a staff meeting with our boss, one of my colleagues was so upset and started saying negative comments about the work place and some personal comments about our boss. I was just the person that ended up having to listen to this person while my boss walked by and heard some of what my coworker was complaining about. I felt so bad because I really like our boss and think they are doing a fantastic job. I just didn’t want our boss to think I was involved with these negative comments. I don’t want it to be a poor reflection on me, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I ended up talking to my boss to just be honest and let my boss know that despite what he/she may have heard, I want to be honest and reassure my boss that I was not the person complaining, I enjoy working for you and I didn’t want it to be a bad reflection on me. My boss did tell me that they appreciated my honesty. I’m not sure if that was the right thing to do?

    1. Hi Judy,

      I think if the boss overheard and you wanted to clear your name, then it was the right thing to do. If you were to tell your boss what the other person said, I believe that’s crossing boundaries. I think it’s great that you think highly of your boss and value your integrity! I hope that made him/her feel better about what happened.

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