Skip to main content

10 Secrets Your Boss Doesn't Want You to Know

David has over 15 years of supervisory experience and has extensive knowledge of how to handle personnel issues across many areas.

There are things your boss doesn't want you or your co-workers to know about.

There are things your boss doesn't want you or your co-workers to know about.

Things Your Boss Doesn't Want You to Know

Simply put, your boss isn't as talented or competent as they think they are. That's not knocking bosses - as I used to be one myself! There are certain things a boss must do to be an effective boss. But as their employee, you should know how they approach their job, even if they don't want you to know.

This article covers ten secrets your boss doesn't want you to know.

Does Your Boss Keep Secrets From You?

Back in the mind of your boss, they are begging you to stay with them because they need you.

Back in the mind of your boss, they are begging you to stay with them because they need you.

1. Your Boss Needs You

Simply put, your boss needs you. They may act as if they can do the job without you, or if you leave for some other position they will be fine. But the fact of the matter is that without you, they will be stressed out beyond belief. Your boss needs you so you can do the job they don't want to do, and so they can focus on their duties. Keep in mind that there is just one of them, and many of you. They can only do so much. If you leave, it means having to delegate duties to others, take on some of the work themselves, or just let the workplace suffer with your absence. In time they have to hire someone else and train them to the point where they can take over where you left off. The worst thing a boss can go through is having one of their employees leave, especially if it's short notice.

If you threaten to leave, they may act like they don't care. But they do! Don't just throw it out there each time your boss makes you upset, just keep that ace in the hole for when the time comes. If you mention you could be looking around somewhere else, then they could start panicking and change their tune towards you, resulting in a better work environment, a raise, or a better position.

2. Your Boss Guesses

You go to your boss with a question and expect them to answer right away with the correct answer. They are your boss, they should know what they are doing. The truth is that they sometimes don't know the right answer. Sometimes they are guessing. Sometimes they have to look at the problem, and will just randomly guess at the answer. Here is the kicker though, they will act as if they 100% believe that is the correct answer and won't wavier from that. Part of being a boss is making a decision, acting confident about it, even if the answer is mostly a guess. If a boss fails to be confident in their decision making, then the employee will have no confidence in the solution given.

If it comes back that is the wrong answer, a good boss will typically own up to that, but not always. If the answer is correct, then they will act as if it was always the right answer without any doubt. Besides that, you will have the reassurance that your boss knows the answers to any problems that come up, even if they guess again in the future.

Your boss gossips just as much, if not more, than you do.

Your boss gossips just as much, if not more, than you do.

3. You Boss Gossips as Much as You

Bosses love to gossip, especially with one another. If they hear a juicy detail about another boss, one of their employees, etc., they will tend to share it with someone at their same level or above. Even if they get on their own staff for gossiping, there is a good chance they are gossiping themselves. It sounds hypocritical, but that is the truth of it. They feel that since they are a boss, they can get away with it.

Want to know why that is dangerous? Because they have access to more information than a standard employee. It's hard to receive as much information as you do as a boss, without having to share it with someone else. There is much more challenge in keeping information private as a boss, since you are given so much more access to a variety of details about other staff and their actions. A good boss won't gossip, but sometimes it is way too hard to resist. Bosses will rarely gossip to employees below them, unless they have a favorite employee of theirs who they share all of the intimate details with.

Your boss can play favorites, and will give their favorite employee almost anything they want.

Your boss can play favorites, and will give their favorite employee almost anything they want.

4. You Boss Plays Favorites

Even if your boss says they don't, they do play favorites. It could be based on their personal interactions with the employee, how well the employee works, and so on. Every boss plays favorites despite them stating otherwise. A boss can try to remain neutral towards everyone in the office, but over time your boss will like some employees more than others.

What can you do to combat this? Nothing. If a boss plays favorites, you can hope it's you, and if it's not, just move on. There is no way you can run away from it. Your boss will like some employees more than others. That's just how it is in the workplace. Just hope you don't become the least favorite from your boss, because they can make that known as well. They will show their frustration, annoyance, or other dissatisfaction to someone they like the least.

5. Your Boss Sometimes Holds No Power

Your boss can act as if they are making all of the decisions, that a new policy is their idea, or that they can get something changed in the workplace. The reality is that sometimes they are even more powerless than you are. They have to follow policy, guidelines, and law when it comes to a lot of things on the job.

Think of it this way. If you have a matter to complain to your union, your union may call your boss to speak about it. Your boss may have no choice but to comply with what the union tells them, otherwise there could be repercussions. Even if your boss doesn't agree with it, they would be powerless to say otherwise. Another example is if management tells your boss to do something, even if they don't want to and don't agree with it, they will state that the idea is being implemented and it needs to be done. They will have little power to say otherwise.

Your boss wants to be your friend.

Your boss wants to be your friend.

6. Your Boss Wants to be Your Friend

Being a boss is a lonely job. Your boss would give anything to be your friend, talk to you casually, even hang out after work. The problem is that they can't. The moment your boss comes up to you, you will change your demeanor. They see how you act with co-workers as compared to you. They will treat you as a boss. Your boss won't ask to go out with you after work, because it could alienate your co-workers. If there is a group event, that is one of the few chances a boss can interact with their employees outside of the office.

The reality is that a boss is like everyone else, they like having friends and people to relate to. While there could be small talk in the office between your boss and staff, in reality it is just a working relationship. This is why you will see your boss interact and have more personal conversations with other bosses at their level or above, as it is easier for fellow bosses to become friends than bosses and employees to become friends.

Your boss will sometimes lie to you, for their own benefit or for the benefit of the office.

Your boss will sometimes lie to you, for their own benefit or for the benefit of the office.

7. Your Boss Will Lie to You

Your boss will lie to you, right to your face. You can ask them if they know something, and even if they know the answer, they will flat out lie to you. There could be various reasons to this, but your boss only shares what is needed to know. It doesn't mean they are doing anything unethical, but it does mean they may not let on to everything they know. They may even lie about their personal life just to avoid gossip going on in the workplace about themselves, since employees tend to gossip about their boss more than anyone else in the workplace.

Does this mean you should stop trusting your boss? No, of course not. They won't lie so they can get you in trouble, cover up for someone, break the law, etc., but they can lie if it results in getting something accomplished. It's up to you to determine if your boss is lying, what it is about, and if it's important enough to do something about it.

8. Your Boss is Using You to Get Ahead

What is the goal of your boss in the end? It's to promote to another position with more pay and more responsibility. Your boss will use you to that end. They will show you various job duties, push you harder, etc., just so they can make themselves look good to those handing out promotions. Does it mean they could take the credit for something? Perhaps. But your boss can even say they trained you to handle a project a certain way, in an effort to make themselves look good for a promotion coming up.

A good boss will use their employees to get the job done and make everyone look good, but just like you, they will want to promote eventually. Your boss will use you and all of your co-workers to that end, anyway they can. You may not like this, but keep in mind that if you make yourself look good, your boss could end up promoting you to a position as well. Everyone is using one another to get ahead in the office, including your boss.

Your boss will either discipline you like a drill sergeant, or back away because they are too scared to discipline you.

Your boss will either discipline you like a drill sergeant, or back away because they are too scared to discipline you.

9. Your Boss Either Hates or Loves to Discipline You

Part of the responsibilities of being a boss is disciplining employees when something goes wrong. There are two types of ways a boss approaches this. They either love it, or they hate it. The ones that love it are the dangerous ones. They could find any reason to come down on you, and get a high from it. While the ones that hate it will delay in disciplining you, and may even back-off, making them appear weak to everyone in the office.

This is something that can be easy to spot once you catch on to it. You may even see your boss smiling when they are yelling at you, being happy afterwards, etc., or you could see them acting nervous because they hate to discipline their employees. Your boss is never neutral when it comes to discipline. They feel one way or the other towards it. A good boss will put those feelings aside when it comes to disciplining an employee, but sometimes those feelings are hard to resist.

10. Your Boss Isn't Cut Out to be a Boss

When it comes down to it, your boss may know they aren't good at being a boss. They could be stuck in the job, have nowhere to go, or don't want to admit that they aren't a good boss. But deep down, some of them will know they have no right being in charge of people. They will try to bluff, fake, and muddle their way through it until they can get the hell out of there and to a position that doesn't require them to supervise people.

You will see a lot people go from being a boss to a position that doesn't require them to supervise anyone at all, because they couldn't handle it. They will keep this secret close to them though, and will try to avoid showing they are incapable of being a boss. This is something you may see already, but an employee telling their boss that they are incapable of doing their job is a bad idea. If you say something like this to a boss who doesn't know what they are doing, they could react harshly towards you in an effort to cover up how incompetent they are.

Do You Like Your Boss?

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2013 David Livermore


khadija on August 07, 2016:

my boss is psychologically and mentally unbalanced. He demeans, insults, shouts without apparent reasons especially when there are other people within earshot. He is glib and once he is charming with an employee this employee will surely get a tirade of shouting afterwards. He devour the idea of terminating people during weekends. His first month, he terminates almost 20 people without reading the 201 files; just for kicks.

kikalina from Europe on January 01, 2014:

Very very true especially the part about the boss being lonely!