What If Your Boss is Jealous of You? | Professional Jealousy (Green-Eyed Monster)
Jealous Boss | Jealous Manager: Despite good performance, is your competence being called into question? Do you keep getting this weird feeling that your boss doesn’t like you, even though you don’t seem to have done anything wrong? Has your boss humiliated you in front of colleagues or superiors with a slightly incorrect version of events? Does your boss routinely take credit for your work?
Are you suspecting that you have a jealous boss?
How to Manage a Jealous Boss (Professional Jealousy)
- Green-eyed bosses are an unfortunate reality.
- A jealous boss might manage through fear and manipulation.
- What makes jealous managers so difficult to deal with?
- Why is your boss displaying professional jealousy?
- How do you manage a boss that is jealous?
- Never undermine a jealous manager.
- You are the one that needs to manage this dilemma.
- What if you are the jealous manager?
The seriously jealous boss has as their entire goal the objective of being the most rewarded, incentivised and recognised manager in your industry (not just your company).
All credit always and forever belongs to them and them only. Often, they have reached the pinnacle of their careers and now they are looking for kudos.
Favourite Phrase: “They don’t deserve it, it was just plain luck!”
1. Green-Eyed Bosses Are An Unfortunate Reality
At first glance, it sounds ridiculous, but the green-eyed boss is in fact a reality and not a boardroom myth.
They specialise in making sure that nothing ever escapes their notice, spying readily on colleagues, superiors and staff.
This may sound a bit odd, but hardly troublesome, until one realises that the reason they behave this way is to make themselves feel better about being in control and most certainly better than everyone around them.
They are in fact collecting ammunition in order to keep you in line, no matter how good you are, or how fast you are rising through the ranks.
2. A Jealous Boss Might Manage Through Fear and Manipulation
They might prey on employees’ anxiety about keeping their jobs and their promotion prospects by making threats, stealing credit, and generally running riot in the workplace.
They have managed to carve themselves a niche in the business and, having realised that they are at the end of their particular line, aim to defend that niche tooth and nail.
Heaven help you if you happen to accidentally pass by their den on your way to your own destination!
3. What Makes Jealous Managers So Difficult to Deal With?
What makes a professionally jealous boss so problematic is that it is so hard to pin down.
You may not even notice at first that you have a jealous boss.
But continuous subtle signs will alert you.
Basically, you will find yourself in embarrassing situations where you can’t defend yourself for fear of making your boss look bad, or where credit has mysteriously gone the way of your boss despite your hard-won work.
Often you can’t even label it, it’s just a feeling or an attitude that you can detect towards you. If you are performing well, meeting your targets and exceeding expectations, and your boss is being cool towards you, excluding you from projects and embarrassing you in public, the chance are you have a jealous boss.
4. So Why is Your Boss Displaying Professional Jealousy?
“This is a hard one to explain considering that sourcing and promoting talent is in fact part of the job description of any successful manager.
Often personal insecurity is at the root of professional jealousy.
Depending on your company culture, having brilliant staff may well be a real threat to your boss’s job security.
But essentially, the jealous boss takes your competence as a personal threat and perceives your trajectory as being custom-designed to usurp them from their position of power and influence, and therefore they will move heaven and earth to head you off at the pass.
It could be that this is how the company you work for operates: a divide-and-conquer mentality that encourages self-protection over efficiency. Not overtly, of course, but by example from senior leadership.
Your boss could also misunderstand your own personal objectives. You may be working particularly hard to acquire various skills sets or experience in order to move to a different department, and your boss thinks you are angling for their job.
Basically, a jealous boss feels justified in blocking your personal progress because of a perceived threat to the stability of their own position.
Either your excellence is a threat to their superiority, or your “incompetence” a slight to their management skills, or something somewhere in between.
Whichever way the cookie crumbles, this is a boss that needs very careful management by you!
5. How Do You Manage a Boss That is Jealous of You?
The keyword here is “manage”: you cannot rely on a jealous boss to maintain an objective perspective on your achievements or progress. Assess your situation.
Therefore, you need to make an effort to keep them informed and even discuss your intentions and career goals with them.
For example, if you have your eye on a position in a different department or a different level, talk to the boss (if you feel comfortable).
Request a meeting in order to discuss your productivity and start off with discussing your objectives at work and why you have asked for a one-on-one. Reassure the boss that in fact, you are seeking to make them look great by being good at your job and outline your own personal ambitions.
Maybe you can relieve the pressure by telling your boss indirectly you don’t want their job.
The other highly effective strategy is to keep records of your achievements. This is a great idea because it will keep you motivated as well.
Often, we tend to gloss over successful projects, well-conceived ideas or brilliant proposals because we are so busy moving onto the next work challenge.
Keep a list of projects you have worked on with a description of your contribution and the outcome.
Not only will you feel better about your job, but you can use it as motivation a boss cannot argue with when you need to ask for a raise, a promotion, more responsibility or what have you.
By keeping black and white records, you can demonstrate your value to the boss with ease.
6. Never Undermine a Jealous Manager
Be sure to never undermine a jealous boss, or any boss for that matter. There is always the possibility of victimization.
Be extra careful if your boss’s boss asks you to do something. Make sure that everyone is on the same page and that your direct manager knows and understands the context. You would not like professional jealousy having her/him feel betrayed. Avoid malice and try to keep it clear and simple.
The essence of any strategy for dealing with a jealous boss can be summed up in the old adage: Give them enough rope….
The business behaviour of a jealous manager is counterproductive to any company’s goals, and as long as you keep doing your job, keep a good record of what you do and maintain your own work ethic and delivery, sooner or later, the boss’s tyrannical and irrational behaviour will come to light.
But much like in a case of sexual harassment or bullying, keep a file of records and documentation so that your own role can be demonstrated by concrete facts as opposed to opinions and hearsay.
7. You Are the One That Needs to Manage This Dilemma with Your Jealous Boss
First and foremost, you need to confirm/make sure you have a jealous boss and that all the odd little coincidences and “feelings” you have been getting are in fact correct.
Realize that you are not the maggot at the bottom of the pile. Then decide how you are going to handle it. You are ultimately the one that needs to manage this situation, not your boss.
Either that or you will have to get out of the situation, which may be fine if you hate your job.
If other managers have seen your potential and you believe you have a future at the company, you will have to be patient.
Second, validate the point of view that some of the boss’s criticisms might be true about you.
Take a good hard look at your work performance and your outputs and make whatever changes might be necessary. Again, it’s about making sure your performance is factually beyond reproach.
Just because your boss is jealous does not mean everything they say about you is incorrect.
Make sure you can spot the difference and be prepared to modify your own behaviour when criticism is just and accurate.
Try the strategies outlined above, and make sure that at all times, your performance in real, objective terms is unimpeachable and can be proven so.
A jealous boss will always lose in the long run. If you can stand the pressure, you can outlast such a person.
But you can also turn them onto your side – to do that, you first need to identify the situation correctly and react accordingly.
Most jealousy is fuelled by the manager’s own personal insecurity. If at all possible even point out how your success could contribute to entrenching their position.
Fulfil your job description and task to the letter. Leave no quarter for accusations to stick to you.
8. What If You Are the Jealous Manager?
- Learn to understand that successful juniors reflect well on you as a manager or a boss, not badly.
- No business hierarchy or structure in the modern world is static. Digging in to entrench your position is to plan to fail.
- Never believe that you have reached the end of your own personal line. There is always room for growth and change in any career.
- The human capital that your staff represents can truly turn you from being a mid-weight boss into a huge contributing leader.
- Learn to recognise the difference between personal ambition in your staff, and their possible desire to usurp you.
- Accept that you can never know everything, or control every detail in your job, or your department. Learn to cooperate with the strengths and knowledge of others for mutual benefit and gain, instead of trying to protect what you already have.
- Validate the the opinions and experience of your staff. They may not have been in the game as long as you, but diversity is the lifeblood of business. What they know and think can often be very useful.
- Make sure you understand your own personal ambitions and likely forward steps.