11 Tips When Your Boss Makes You Feel Incompetent 2024

The Harvard Business Review says, everyone complains about their boss from time to time. Surveys have shown that 79 percent of workers quit their jobs for lack of appreciation.

When Your Boss Makes You Feel Incompetent
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When your boss makes you feel incompetent, it certainly shows you’re not appreciated. This can trigger feelings of devaluation and self-doubt.

Let’s dive in.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss tips and signs so you can be proactive. 

1. Clarify That It’s Really What You Think It Is

Be 100 percent sure that your boss is the one making you feel incompetent. Many times, it’s people’s own insecurities that make them feel incompetent.

Analyze the situation from a purely neutral place and then decide whether your boss did something hurtful or not. You want to be sure you’re not just engaging in perfectionism or stretching yourself beyond your means.

2. Refrain From Internalizing

Do your best not to take the comment or behavior personally, even if it initially is making you feel incompetent.

Turn the whole thing around and look at your boss with compassion and empathy. That person must be struggling a lot to go out of his or her way to chop you down. Perhaps you can muster some kindness, even though your boss is targeting you right now.

3. Practice Self Compassion

When your boss makes you feel incompetent, it can be easy to beat yourself up and question your abilities. However, self-compassion is one of the best ways to deal with these feelings.

By being kind and understanding towards yourself, you’re valuing yourself as an individual and release feeling incompetent regardless. It can prevent you from falling into a cycle of self-doubt and low self esteem.

4. Request A Meeting

You can address the issue that makes you feel incompetent while meeting with your boss alone, or request a third party attend the meeting.

Here, ask your superior politely if he feels you’ve had poor work performance to make him act the way he does towards you.

Ask for feedback after making a mistake. This will help you understand what you did wrong and how you can improve in the future. This can all be done politely.

Explain what exactly your boss does or says to make you feel incompetent. For example, mention that your boss jumps in and answers customers’ questions before you have the chance. Rather than talking about how it makes you feel, unless asked.

5. Own Your Mistakes

When you do make mistakes, it can be tough to face the consequences. However, when your boss makes you feel incompetent, owning your mistakes can be one of the best ways to improve your confidence.

By accepting responsibility for your actions, you show you’re willing to learn and grow as a professional and willing to put in the extra effort to improve your skills.

6. Human Resources

HR serves as a middle point between workers and the company, however, they primarily work for the company’s best interests. They sometimes offer solutions to many issues that occur in the workplace.

Gather the relative documentation to identify areas how your superior makes you feel incompetent before contacting HR, to make your case or formal complaint much more viable.

HR may call a meeting between you and your boss to talk and come up with a solution that involves separating the two of you.

Alternatively, the company may dismiss your case or say that you were in the wrong. That’s why it’s crucial for you to gather all the evidence and documentation and research your situation.

7. Look For Another Job

You have no obligation to stay at your current job if you don’t have a contract in place. So you can resign any time you like and search for a new job where your new manager won’t make you feel incompetent. 

You’ll find yourself much more educated about work situations that leave you feeling incompetent. Now you can take the steps necessary to improve your mental health and quality of life to move on.

8. Support Network

When your boss makes you feel incompetent, it can be tough to face the challenge alone. However, when you have a support network of colleagues and friends, you become less reliant on your boss’s approval.

These people can provide you with emotional support when you’re feeling down, as well as helpful advice and feedback when you need it. Chances are your manager makes other employees feel incompetent too.

9. Focus On Your Strengths

It’s easy to focus on your shortcomings when your boss makes you feel incompetent.

However, it’s important to remember your strengths. Write down a list of things you’re good at.

Remember the compliments you’ve received from others. Focusing on a good trait can help you feel better about yourself and your abilities. Stay positive to help you see that what your boss thinks and criticizes you for isn’t always accurate.

10. Challenge Yourself

One way to feel better about yourself is to set some goals and achieve them. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and prove that you are competent.

Choose goals that are challenging but achievable. And don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

11. Find A Mentor

Having a mentor at work to talk with can be extremely helpful to offer advice, support, and guidance. They can also help you to see your potential and realize your worth.

A mentorship can be highly beneficial. So, if you have the opportunity, take it.

My Boss Makes Me Feel Unimportant

It’s not that you need to feel supremely important at work. You just don’t want to feel unimportant.

A good manager will play a key role in whether people feel that their contributions matter. People want to be seen as valuable, not dispensable. It happens in everyday interactions, which ultimately add up.

If you feel undervalued in your position, being proactive and talking to your manager about your perspective is important for ensuring that you have a positive experience in the workplace and continue to experience growth in your career.

Here are 8 ways managers make people feel unimportant:

  1. Frequently cancel your meetings together, arrive late, or unprepared.
  2. Re-does you work without explaining why.
  3. Talks over you in meetings or cuts you off.
  4. Routinely asks others for input before asking you.
  5. Fails to follow up on an issue you discussed.
  6. Postpones your review or lets a renewable assignment or contract run down to the last minute before talking with you about your status.
  7. Creates change that affects you negatively without discussing it with you before or after implementing it.
  8. Assigns you a role, to help solve a problem and then neglects to give you adequate resources or support to do it well.

My Boss Makes Me Doubt Myself

Keep in mind, your manager may value you without actually saying so. However, if you generally suffer from chronic self doubt it can have a real impact on your mental health at work if left unchecked.

You may secretly have these feelings now and then, or you may have them running through your mind each day at work.

You might not want to confide in your boss because then he or she will know you feel this way and you don’t want it to affect their opinion of you.

However, there may be reasons your boss loves you doubting yourself and here’s why:

1. You’ll Work Harder Than Others

You’ll want to prove yourself, so you’ll overcompensate and therefore do way more than others to make yourself feel like you are adding value. Your boss loves that you have this can do, will do attitude and what that means they get more for their money.  

2. You Won’t Negotiate For A Pay Raise

Low self worth and self doubt about your abilities means you’ll likely accept what is being offered in terms of salary and benefits. 

People with more self belief are likely to ask for a pay increase and are more likely to get one as they are persistent and they don’t take no for an answer. 

3. You Won’t Say No To Extra Workload

This is going back to you trying to prove your worth so you don’t say no. You might consider saying you can’t do anymore but before you know it you have taken on more work at the detriment of your own wellbeing and work/life balance.

4. You’re Unlikely To Leave

When you doubt your own abilities then you are less likely to put yourself out there to find yourself a new position. So your boss benefits as they are not likely to lose you anytime in the near future.

You’re actually valued for the work you do and they’d genuinely be lost without you as you do so much and they would struggle to find a replacement like you.

5. You Make Them Look Good

You may beat yourself up in private, but you’re eager to please so you do any work they put your way. You always deliver and therefore to their boss, they always look good. 

They may even take the praise for the work you create as you’re not likely to let people know you’re the one creating this great work.

My Boss Treats Me Differently Than Others

A team leader always has a role to motivate, inspire and respect his employees. Doing this boosts the work environment, increasing the pace and productivity.

However, when your boss makes you feel incompetent by treating you differently than others it may be because:

  • They feel downgraded by how they’re treated by their bosses.
  • Your performance is not up to the standard he/she needs.
  • Your gender, race, ethnicity, religion. (Maybe they’re required to make their numbers for women of color, for example)
  • Your educational certification or lack of certain skills.

Signs Your Boss Is Testing You

Your boss wants to see how you respond in certain situations, and they want to know what your weaknesses are. This may sound like a bad thing, but the truth is that it could be very beneficial for you.

  • A Longer Work Week

If you normally work 40 hours a week, and suddenly they go up to 60, it may be they’re trying to see how much extra effort you can put in before becoming exhausted and unmotivated.

This could also mean that there are more hours for them to cut back if needed!

  • Strange Project Requests

Your boss might ask you to do something outside of what would usually fall under your job description as part of their testing process.

For example, taking on some new duties or perhaps getting involved with managing the team – this helps them learn about all areas of the business without having to ask.

  • New Project Deadlines

Your boss might give you a new due date for your projects or tasks. This could be to see how much effort you can put in before missing the deadline.

If it’s an important task with high stakes involved then this could mean you’re being threatened by another colleague who has better skills or experience – make sure you step up your game next time around!

  • Your Manager Ignores You

If your manager begins to ignore your emails or phone calls, they may simply be trying to see if there’s a good reason for doing so. It could mean your boss is waiting for you to solve the problem on your own.

Related: Best Confidence Building Exercises Backed By Science

Signs Your Boss Is Not Happy With You

Satisfied supervisors can make employees’ work weeks a lot more fulfilling — and maybe even fun — when your boss makes you feel incompetent that can turn each day into a miserable marathon that begins all over again the next morning.

Feeling Incompetent
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A happy boss is also a lot more likely to help you get promoted or give you a raise.

1. Your Boss Stops Offering Feedback

One way a manager can express unhappiness is if they stop investing time in you by canceling meetings or phone calls with you.

  • What You Can Do

Schedule a one-on-one meeting, prepared with what you’ve accomplished, the progress being made and where you need support. Ask if there are other things you should prioritize.

From there, send your supervisor a weekly rundown of your work and request regular feedback in return. This may seem awkward at first, however, a good boss will be happy to help you learn and grow.

2. Your Boss Stops Inviting You to Meetings

This could actually be a curse if it’s more than an unintentional oversight. If you stop being necessary to the company and your boss, it’s time to find ways to get your career and importance back on track.

  • What You Can Do 

Offer a piece of key information relevant to the topic of the meeting, by doing this, you’re showing that you can add value to the next meeting.

3. Your Boss Shuts Down Requests for Advancement

If your boss doesn’t make time to offer detailed feedback, even on direct requests for raises or promotions, it could mean it’s time to revamp your resume. Being shut down when addressing something like your salary without adequate explanation can make denials seem personal rather than professional.

  • What You Can Do

Ask what you’d be required to do in order to get a raise or promotion. If they can’t give you a straight answer or seem to be disinterested in keeping you around, it could be a sign that you need to find a new job ASAP.

4. Your Boss Rechecks Your Work

A supervisor who goes over your work with a fine-tooth comb or begins to micromanage you, probably isn’t happy with what you’re producing on your own.

  • What You Can Do

If there’s a reason for your boss to be double-checking things you’ve done, you need to earn their trust back. Answer questions you know they’ll ask before they do.

Trust can take a long time to build — or rebuild — but it is very possible if you’re diligent.”

Related: Best Ways To Boost Quiet Confidence

Signs Your Boss Wants You To Leave

When your services are no longer needed in an organization, it’s obvious your boss will begin to exhibit signs which will communicate to you that your boss wants you to leave.

The best thing to do is to put it behind you and begin to look for a better job with a new boss that will celebrate you and appreciate your accomplishments.

Below are some of the signs you’ll see when your boss makes you feel incompetent or wants you to leave.

  • When your boss always assigns your project to others.
  • Less communication with you.
  • Your boss doesn’t value your presence in the organization.
  • When your boss doesn’t acknowledge the work you do.
  • If your boss doesn’t ask for your opinion on a project.
  • You’re often restricted from being invited to some meetings.
  • When your boss doesn’t recognize your achievements in the organization.
  • Your boss talks to you in a rude manner.
  • When your boss gives negative feedback about everything you do in the organization.
  • When your boss frowns at you but smiles at your colleagues.
  • Your down level in the organization is consulted for key decisions first, not you.
  • Your boss doesn’t always have time for you, just your colleagues.
  • You’re often accused by your boss of what is not your fault.
  • In most cases you’re excluded from some incentives that are shared in the organization.
  • When you’re the one whose salary raise is delayed and less than expected.
  • If your boss makes fun of your mistakes publicly among your colleagues.
  • Gets others to monitor you to find fault in you
  • When your boss makes you feel incompetent, by telling you how well your colleagues would do if a project was given to them.

Signs You Annoy Your Boss

Most of us likely wouldn’t ever intentionally try to get on our boss’s nerves, but there might be things you’re doing that are coming off as unprofessional, curious, or just plain annoying. Here are some common workplace mistakes.

  • You prioritize unimportant tasks over the most important ones.
  • When you put on your coat and step into your boss’s office to ask if there’s anything else he or she needs, you’re sending mixed and annoying signals.
  • You send a project back to your boss with so many questions that he or she has to get the job done themself.
  • You tell your boss what you think they want to hear rather than what’s actually true.
  • If your go-to excuse is “because that’s the way it’s always been done”, it’s seen as lazy and shows no intellectual curiosity, no internal drive, and no desire to improve oneself or one’s company.
  • You make a big production about why you were late for work.
  • You say you understand when you really don’t.
  • You regularly slip away early – without saying goodbye.

Related: The Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide to Gaining More Self-Confidence

Things Your Boss Should Never Say To You

Here are some things great leaders will never say when speaking to any employee.

  • “Do what I tell you to do. I’m the boss.” 
  • “Don’t waste my time; we’ve already tried that before.”
  • “I’m disappointed in you.”
  • “I’ve noticed that some of you are consistently arriving late for work. You all need to make sure you do what it takes to be on time every day.” (When many are actually arriving on time.)
  • “You don’t need to understand why we’re doing it this way. You just need to trust that your leadership will always do the right thing.”
  • “You’re lucky to have a job.”
  • “Why didn’t you do this?” or ”Why did you do it that way?”
  • “I’m excited to announce XYZ and I’ve worked hard, long hours to get this prepared for viewing.” (Said in a meeting, when one of your employees has actually done the work.)
  • “Nice job today.” (Without specifying specific feedback)

Remembering that everyone makes mistakes can help us put our own challenges into perspective and remind us that we’re not alone.

Additionally, remembering that everyone’s human helps you be less judgemental of yourself and others. The important thing is to keep going.

We invite you to leave us a comment and share ✅ this article with friends and family.

About The Author

Bijan Kholghi is a certified life coach with the Milton Erickson Institute Heidelberg (Germany). He helps clients and couples reach breakthroughs in their lives by changing subconscious patterns. His solution-oriented approach is based on Systemic- and Hypnotherapy.