Hate Your Job? 5 Ways to Tell Your Boss Without Damaging Your Relationship

woman on virtual meeting

Adobe Stock / Fairygodboss Staff

Profile Picture
Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
June 21, 2024 at 1:32AM UTC

When you truly hate your job, it may seem like the only option is to quit and find a new one. But what if there were another way?

“Is there a professional way to give very negative feedback about my current position?” a Fairygodboss member recently asked in our the community feed. 

They wrote that their company uses “stay interviews” to improve retention, essentially asking typical exit interview questions before the employee actually leaves. This employee noted that they are concerned that pay at their level doesn’t match their responsibilities, their promotion came with additional responsibilities but no additional authority and they have had a personal item stolen off their desk, which “left me feeling a general distrust for and disrespect from others in my department.”

“If they ask me how likely I am to stay, I'd have to honestly say there's at least a 9/10 chance I'll leave if I get an offer that matches or beats my current salary,” they added. “I think these are all things that someone in our department needs to hear to help retain talent.  But honestly, I'm afraid of dooming my relationship with my manager if I say them. Any advice?”

Other professionals chimed in with thoughtful ideas.

1. Emphasize your value as an employee.

“If YOU can prove that you are responsible for $X revenue, and there is in fact room for wage growth for your position, you are far more likely to get it!” Jahna wrote.

This speaks to a general note of import anytime you’re discussing promotions or raises: you must demonstrate your value and strengths as an employee.

2. Mention the positive — not just the negative.

“You may want to add your concern that giving negative feedback may ‘doom’ the relationship,” Rene Letendre said. “Also, maybe you can add the things that make you want to stay — so, don't just offer areas where they can/should do better, but also recognize where they are doing well.”

Offering compliments along with constructive criticism will make people more likely to accept the feedback and listen to you.

3. Choose the right time and place.

“Many years ago, an older friend and mentor shared this nugget with me: it's possible to say anything if you use the right time, place and manner,” Gillian Thackray added. “Applied here, I think these are fair pieces of feedback that are entirely appropriate for the stay interview (the time and the place).  The trick is in how you deliver them; delivery with a positive tone, along with the context and suggestion for improvement (as you did in your message) is much less likely to have a negative impact on the relationship.”

4. Be polite.

Crystal Rhineberger, meanwhile, emphasized the fact that it’s important to be polite when delivering constructive criticism — or any situation, really. “Keep tones light,” she wrote. “Ask for input.”

This, too, will help ensure that your employer is actually listening to your concerns.

5. Be honest.

Finally, as Antonia Calzetti, it’s important to simply be honest. “If you feel that you can be making 25% more somewhere else, I'd open that bag with them, especially if they value you as an employee,” she said. “They should be given the opportunity to do what you're asking — give them until the next ‘stay interview,’ then make a decision. If they haven't done anything regarding any of the items (at minimum), you will clearly know your value there. #neversettle”

That’s great advice for any aspect of your life — professional and personal. Never settle, indeed!

What's your no. 1 piece of advice for telling your boss you don't like your job? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss'ers!

About the Career Expert:

 Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket and The Haven.

Why women love us:

  • Daily articles on career topics
  • Jobs at companies dedicated to hiring more women
  • Advice and support from an authentic community
  • Events that help you level up in your career
  • Free membership, always