Career Advice

6 Strong Signs Your Boss Is Threatened by You (And How to Respond)

argument with boss in office

Workplace relationships are not always easy. You meet a lot of different personas. Some are extremely nice and professional, while others may show some signs of toxic behavior. 

Most employees agree that good relationships with their boss are essential for high job satisfaction, professional development, and career progress. Yet, 75% of US employees also say that the most stressful aspect of their job was their immediate boss. 

Poor management and personal qualities are often the reason behind subpar employee-boss dynamics. In particular, when the superior’s personal insecurities cloud their judgment. 

6 Definite Signs Your Boss is Threatened by You

Something is up with your boss and you can’t tell what is it exactly. You feel like every decision you make is being either criticized or ignored. In fact, you may wonder why they hired you in the first place.

Below are the six tell-tale signs that your boss feels threatened by you.

You’re Often The Subject of Criticism

Nobody is perfect, and you should expect to receive both positive and negative feedback from your boss. But this should be constructive criticism, not just random lash outs and bashing. 

Yet, you are subject to criticism where the same behaviors are ignored in others. Likewise, your boss may criticize you for things that aren’t against company policy, and don’t impact your ability to do your job.

If your boss sees you as enough of a threat, they may be attempting to “build a case” for demoting or firing you. It’s also possible that their constant haranguing may be an effort to frustrate you into rage quitting.

Your Suggestions Are Overlooked or Ignored

You were hired for your expertise. And yet, you’re given no room to prove yourself because any idea coming from your end gets ignored or shelved.  This alone is frustrating, but there’s another way that your boss may be making things even worse…

You Never Get Credit For Your Ideas

Your boss behaves as if they are completely uninterested and unimpressed by any of your ideas. Later, you notice those same ideas have been implemented, but you’ve received no credit. 

There are usually one of two things happening here. If your boss is particularly brazen they will simply take credit for your ideas as their own. Otherwise, it’s common for a toxic boss to give credit to an employee who will go along with them and isn’t a threat to their standing within the company.

The Boss Restricts Your Access to Information or Resources

To do your gig, you need access to be part of the in-company discussions, information flows, and meetings. Yet, your boss appears to ostracize you. As a result, you experience information asymmetry aka you don’t have the same knowledge and information as other employees, which makes your job much harder.  

The Boss Interferes With Your Efforts to Communicate With Superiors

Working with a boss who is threatened by you can be demoralizing because it affects your relationships with other people. For example, your boss may purposefully meddle with your ability to collaborate with other higher-ups. 

They often do this as a way to create a narrative that paints you in a bad light or to ensure that your valid concerns aren’t heard by those who can help you. As a result, other executives receive a very tainted picture of you as a professional. 

You Are Assigned Menial Low-Value Tasks

This is one of the more insidious things that a toxic boss will do. They assign you low-value tasks that are beneath your skill set and don’t contribute much to the organization. 

As a result:

  • You miss out on opportunities to excel
  • Other members of your team may think you are less than capable
  • Your work day is boring and unfulfilling
  • Future evaluations may show that you aren’t contributing

If you’re experiencing this, your boss isn’t just threatened by you. They are actively trying to drive you off of their team if not out of the organization.

What to do When Your Boss is Threatened by You

When you feel like a boss is threatened by your leadership or other skills, there are steps you can take to protect your position. Act quickly. Otherwise, they will set a false narrative, and at that point, it will be difficult to change the perception of anybody that matters.

The first thing is to document all toxic behaviors in writing. Ensure that you’re always following up with your boss via email (and don’t hear back from them most of the time); reach out to them via corporate systems (e.g., tag them in shared documents or task managers), but again — hear crickets or negative feedback. 

Next, schedule a meeting with your boss. Don’t accuse them of finding you threatening. Instead, just emphasize that you want to work to your fullest potential. Let them know that they seem unhappy with your performance, and ask for suggestions to improve. In the best-case scenario, they will acknowledge their misbehavior and course-correct. In the worst case – they’ll stonewall or try to gaslight you.

Your final step will be to request a meeting with HR. This is where you will let your documentation and your experiences. Be matter-of-fact and unemotional. Don’t make demands just yet. Instead, ask the HR rep for advice including what you can do to stay with the company while also limiting your relationship with your boss.


  • Elena Prokopets

    Elena runs content operations at Freesumes since 2017. She works closely with copywriters, designers, and invited career experts to ensure that all content meets our highest editorial standards. Up to date, she wrote over 200 career-related pieces around resume writing, career advice... more

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