Home > In The Workplace > How to Complain About Your Boss

How to Complain About Your Boss

By: Thomas Muller - Updated: 16 Sep 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
How To Complain About Your Boss

Making a complaint about your boss is risky because unwarranted complaints can jeopardise your working life and even your career, but if your manager is behaving inappropriately then their actions must be confronted.

Dangerous Territory

An exemplary boss is a rare breed. Most employees would be able to find something amiss in the behaviour and abilities of their manager, but are their actions or lack of action serious enough to be grounds for complaint? Making a complaint about a superior is dangerous territory. An ill-considered protest could easily damage your job prospects and make your working life even worse. It is therefore vital that you only complain when you are convinced it is justified.

Reasons for Complaint

Reasons for complaint can take various forms from bad management and job ineptitude to more serious issues like discrimination and bullying.

If your boss is simply unfit for their position, such as through being unwilling to take responsibility, shunning new ideas, discouraging initiative or by just being incompetent and out of their depth, then it can be very difficult to justify raising a complaint. Is their incompetence worth the risk of jeopardising your position and being branded a troublemaker or a whinger?

Act with Care and Sensitivity

If you are adamant that action is required then it is important to tread carefully and act with utmost sensitivity. After all, your boss may be unaware of their own limitations and be trying to do what they think is best. It is an unfortunate reality that many managers are not adequately skilled at managing people.

One course of action is to speak to their superior. Rather than demand a formal meeting to vent your complaint, it is wiser to suggest a casual chat where you can calmly explain that you are not being allowed to perform at the best of your abilities in your current role. Rather than blame your boss, explain how your relationship with them is proving frustrating and restrictive. It may also be worth commenting that their behaviour is not only undermining your own performance but also that of the team.

Rebuilding Working Relationships

If speaking with their superior either has no effect or is not appropriate then it may be worth attempting to make headway on the ground by adopting a more positive and constructive outlook towards you boss. If you have decided that your boss is incompetent you will likely see everything they do in a bad light - perhaps unfairly. Attempt to build bridges by establishing open and friendly communication both with your boss and within your team, and also by adopting a new enthusiasm for your work.

Is it Directed Towards you?

If you feel your boss’ inappropriate behaviour is directed towards you then it is important to take action, however difficult and risky. Intimidation, bullying, verbal violence, sexual harassment, and discrimination due to age, race, religion, sex or sexuality are all serious breaches of professional conduct and must be confronted.

Does it Warrant Complaint?

Before taking action you first must ascertain whether their behaviour actually constitutes wrongful action. In certain instances, particularly with regards to sexual harassment and discrimination, it may be patently clear but there is also a large grey area between bullying and bad management.

To help establish this it may be worth speaking to colleagues to try to find out whether they have been subjected to or witnessed inappropriate behaviour from your boss.

There are independent official bodies that will help you to ascertain whether you have grounds for complaint and offer appropriate advice. If you belong to a union then your representative should be the first port of call, otherwise you can speak to the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) or the Human Rights Commission.

Compile Evidence

Unfounded verbal complaints will stand little chance of success and so you need to support your claim with evidence. Keep a detailed record of every incident where your boss behaved inappropriately, including the time and date, what they said or did, any witnesses and how it made you feel. Hard evidence such as emails or recorded conversations are even more valuable.

Confrontation

The next course of action is to confront your boss privately and in a calm and polite manner and explain how their behaviour is making you feel, and ask them to stop. If you feel unable to confront them yourself then you could ask a colleague or union representative to do it on your behalf or express your feelings in writing. It is vital that this communication remains impassive and fact-based.

If this proves unsuccessful then you should raise the issue with their superior. Support your claims with your incident notes and if you have secured the support of witnesses then ask them whether you can name them in the meeting.

If this route also fails to end the problem then you will have to resort to making a formal complaint using your company’s grievance procedure.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Started a new job, I am a very hard worker & I always find something to do. I never have the mind set that's not my job. I'm a team player. The head server is very intimidated towards me. I'm not trying to take his job. Anyways he is ALWAYS saying negitve comments on my work performance & never says a word to the lazy employees that don't work & Facebook on the job. Tonight I went to his boss & complained. I also got paid tonight when pay day is 3 days from now... am I fierd??
Mfc - 16-Sep-17 @ 8:54 AM
Hi. My name is Melvyn Williams. I use to volunteer for a retail Charity shop called Mind, on 257 Kentish town road. I started on Friday, August 28th 2015 up until Wednesday, June 14th 2017. I was a dedicated volunteer over this period of time. Even on my days off, I’d pop by the Shop to ask if any help was needed - which it often was, because a lot of the volunteers did not show up for their shifts, nor did they have the decency to ring or text to cancel their shift. So, I was often covering for other people, which I didn’t mind – it was a pleasure. I also helped over the Christmas period, when other people put their holiday plans first. I stayed loyalto the shop and gave up my time to help in the Shop. I can honestly say I am the most loyal volunteer that the Shop has ever had. There is a manager at the Shop called Chiara who had funny mood swings. One day she could be ok, and on other days she could be snappy and moody and take it out on the volunteers. On Wednesday, May 24th, I made a comment as a joke, which was maybe in bad taste. I said, “Hi Chiara, how’s your mood today?” I apologised for saying this but it led to Chiara sacking me. I emailed head office and told them about all of the inappropriate things Chiara got me to do for her, like her giving me £60 a fortnight to buy her hash (ganja) when I didn’t even use ganja myself, nor would I ever buy it for anyone else, because there was another volunteer that used to buy ganja for her, but Chiara feel out with this volunteer, and he no longer worked the shop, is why Chiara started asking me to buy hash for her. There was also a time when Chiara used to give me money to buy her pornographic magazines,because she told me she was too embarrassed to buy these magazines herself. And like a fool, I used to buy them for her too. On Saturday, June the 4th, I saw Chiara on Holmes road in Kentish town, and I crossed over the road because I didn’t want to talk to her, but she pleaded with me to cross back again to speak to her. She wanted me to drop my complaint I made about her to head office. She told me that if I dropped my complaint she would give me my job back. So, I eventually dropped my complaint, but she tricked me. Chiara was now only allowing me to work one day a week when, before, I used to work a minimum of three days a week, plus extra days helping out in The Shop. I complained again to head office, because I believed that Chiara was being spiteful in allowing me to work one day only. These are the spiteful games that Chiara likes to play with people. Anyway, I worked on Wednesday, June 14th 2017, and then Chiara had a sly word with the Mind Charity’s area manager, called Gordon, behind my back, and got him to ban me from The Shop. I was devastated. After all the loyalty I showed to the Shop, and then to just be thrown away like a piece of rubbish. I feel let down by Mind as a Charity. I believe that this Charity has no respect for their volunteers whatsoever. Whenev
mel - 16-Aug-17 @ 6:00 PM
Our department is been harassed by HR, brought it to my boss's attention. He even mentioned not to worry about it. Well, this week is a different story. hr complained to my immediate supervisor that I didn't acknowledged her yesterday, while she was telling me to be careful when writing the accruals. In which I responded ,"ok".Today, she called my supervisor in to her office. my supervisor said that for future just to make sure I would acknowledged her if a moment like that would come. Spoke to my boss about it and I'm concerned for retaliation
Bijou - 17-May-17 @ 7:45 AM
It's been 2 wks since i was suspended fromcare company. At the meet, I asked how long for and if I would still have a job. was told 2 wks and shes wasnt sure. I said should I look for another job incase she shrugged her shoulders. If not heard anything nor even the letter of complaint from client. My boss went on holiday shortly after suspending me, how can this be right leaving me hanging without pay or knowing where i stand. Care work is so stressful low paid, zero hrs managers bully you to step in when struggling to cover shifts which you more often help out with. I love my job clients staff, but managers make you feel like your walking in glass. They wouldn't be managers bosses &company owners if it wasn't support workers who care enough to help people on a low zero hr wage & stress.Been offered New job totally different line of work, invited tolook round and felt I could breath again.Should I leave instead of waiting for outcome?I love the job but it's making me ill.
Jules - 9-May-17 @ 9:13 PM
It's been 2 wks since i was suspended fromcare company. At the meet, I asked how long for and if I would still have a job. was told 2 wks and shes wasnt sure. I said should I look for another job incase she shrugged her shoulders. If not heard anything nor even the letter of complaint from client. My boss went on holiday shortly after suspending me, how can this be right leaving me hanging without pay or knowing where i stand.
Jules - 9-May-17 @ 8:49 PM
In a case whereby you are charged with misconduct and dismissed and when you look deeper into it it's actually not misconductand employer knows if they say misconduct it will be my fault... This is in a case from training the trainer was inadequate and I was going through personal problems and told the manager and trainer and also that I will go for counseling as she was advised by the trainers manager. I toldas soon as the training was over I will seek counseling , wanted to focus on the job training,kindly bear in mind it was a new appointment still in training and probation obviously people learn with different levels and same people in that training were also doing the same mistakes but were pushed to learn from their mistakes however Iwas singly handled... They are people who knew that this particular trainer is not doing her job well as well as management... Could it be the issuewas used as a scapegoat and how do we prove this and also that the misconduct charge was a front to get rid of me , also think at times the way they handled mysituation it was like they wanted meto quit... There was a point Iwanted to quit however I have 2 young kids, mypartner was gravely ill at the time and staying at home where no one was working so the thought of quitting was off... I wanted to continue unfortunatelyout of the blue while Iwas suspended for misconduct and later dismissed after a disciplinary enquiry... How do I prove that I was wrongfully charged
Tee - 4-Mar-17 @ 5:49 PM
I'm working in a resort under food and beverage department as a waiter.a few days ago we have function a wedding and i am one of those who were in charge of the set up in the wedding dinner. I started my duty from 6am and we finish the set up around 5pm but the executive chef suddenly came and he want to change all the set up even in the dinning tables. His behavior is not good he is very rude,keep on shouting and tried to break the table but he can't and then he pulled the table cloth on the table and crumpled it and throw it on the floor. Because of that we didn't have our dinner break i was so hungry and my knee is shaking while were on the service. He always have that kind of behavior during the past operations. What do you think is the best thing that i can do about that issue?
Frank - 21-Feb-17 @ 11:31 PM
My superviser pulls me up for the smelliest things but never pulls any one else from haveing a day off sick to small jobs to how im drest and wont admit to faults in the pda system in short its always me!!
Bulldog - 14-Jan-17 @ 10:28 AM
My hod in a college i am vry frustrated with him. He is using abuse language infront of all faculties. Cme late nd also distributed uneven load. All time giving threats tht i wil terminate. Princi is also under his influence.if any one complaint thn he ignores. I dont understand wht to do . Many people advice me to file a complaint totrustee or director bt i am cnfuse as it is risk taking for my job.pls suggest me wht should appropriate action i should take
dinu - 18-Nov-16 @ 6:58 PM
Hi I am machine operator and my manager bullying all the time with us he harassment us every day he stop us all the time don't talk with your colleagues don't use light if someone had a back pain even doctor wrote already he not trust then he check and think if he feel pain then why not on the bed all the time and then he telling no jobs for you to many bad habit he have now we are absolutely fed up so we want to off from the job plz answer Thanks
Sunny - 14-Oct-16 @ 10:58 PM
HIto all after long time i am searching for an answer where i have no idea on where to get. I am an Master Degree in IT with 10 years experience in my field currently working asinfrastructure lead for a reputed company in Middle East(Dubai). Company Has got all the positions which are like ( CEO,CIO COO, CFO). My head is CIO as i am in IT. We have several Upgrades on infrastructure and i usually picks up some of the well know companies for having a bid on pricing. Our CIO takes quote from me and gives it to company which are not good in market and cheaper solutionwhen it is about to close and gets 100$ difference. He does not understand the technology in dept as his career road map is on sales not technical sales. First Of all according to me its not good to share the exact price with the vendor as the efforts taken by the other company should be taken in consideration. We in IT all know that the CIO is making money from outside but cannot take proof. How to handle and informthis flaws as i have managed to report this to CFO but he also cannot take any action with out actual proof. How get him caught read handed as his business deals happen under the table. Or should we not bother and just work with a person who has no idea much on IT. I seriously do not want my name to be spoiled in front of the management after he does such activity. Let me know your comments.
John Smith - 24-Jun-16 @ 4:51 AM
Kay - Your Question:
Two weeks ago I was assaulted at work by a colleague. Which I reported to management, he got suspended for two weeks with pay while investigation where under way. I had to stay home for 3 days per a doctors advice while I which I was not paid for. I wasn't contacted by management regarding the assault again and today I found out that my attacker is coming back to start working tomorrow. I want to know what I can do regarding this issue. Thank you

Our Response:
You don't say what has happened since the suspension and whether an investigation for alleged misconduct has taken place and whether a disciplinary hearing will follow. Therefore, you would need to speak to your employer to find out what the current situation is. Your entitlement to sick pay should be set out in your contract of employment or statement of terms and conditions. However, a suspension from work is not typically considered a punishment as a investigation into the incident to gather all the facts has to take place. This means the person who is suspended will usually receive full pay until a hearing resolves the matter one way or another. If you are still unsure of your rights, you may wish to give ACAS a call.
ComplaintExpert - 1-Jun-16 @ 12:32 PM
Two weeks ago I was assaulted at work by a colleague. Which I reported to management, he got suspended for two weeks with pay while investigation where under way. I had to stay home for 3 days per a doctors advice while I which I was not paid for. I wasn't contacted by management regarding the assault again and today I found out that my attacker is coming back to start working tomorrow. I want to know what I can do regarding this issue. Thank you
Kay - 31-May-16 @ 5:57 PM
Alex - Your Question:
I worked in same office for 20 years. For all this time I tried to not cross paths with high bosses. And I was good in that. But few months ago when I was leaving ladies bathroom I stop for couple minutes to look in bathroom mirror. My director pass me leaving bathroom. After few seconds my manager show up and asking me to go with her to her office (literally drag me from the bathroom). She started ask me: if I was on my break or not. In the end I learn what I cannot look in the mirror if I am not on my official 15 minutes break. I complained. Reach head of HR. But nothing. Please show me employee book what said "bathrooms mirrored only use in breaks". What can I do !! Mila. NYPH.

Our Response:
This does not sound like a problem that would happen in the UK, as a toilet break is unconditional and I'm afraid we can only advise on UK-based workplace law.
ComplaintExpert - 20-May-16 @ 2:26 PM
I worked in same office for 20 years. For all this time I tried tonot cross paths with high bosses. And I was good in that. But few months ago when I was leaving ladiesbathroom I stop for couple minutes to look in bathroom mirror. My director pass me leaving bathroom. After few seconds my manager show up and asking me to go with her to her office (literally drag me from the bathroom). She started ask me: if I was on my break or not..... In the end I learn whatI cannot look in the mirror if i am not on my official 15 minutes break. I complained. Reach head of HR. But nothing. Please show me employee book what said "bathrooms mirrored only use in breaks". What can I do !! Mila. NYPH.
Alex - 20-May-16 @ 3:42 AM
Heena - Your Question:
I worked in a slimming centre named Fit N Fine. My boss is very bad he didn't give my salary for the month of January. I left my job on February but till now he didn't pay my salary yet. What should I do now??? Please help me

Our Response:
You should apply through the Small Claims Court if you want to claim your money back, please see CAB link here. I hope this helps.
ComplaintExpert - 8-Apr-16 @ 11:01 AM
I worked in a slimming centre named Fit N Fine. My boss is very bad he didn't give my salary for the month of January..... I left my job on February but till now he didn't pay my salary yet.... What should I do now??? Please help me
Heena - 7-Apr-16 @ 12:42 PM
I work at the lounge of a hotel in the city, for about 3 months now. I really enjoy working there for that the staff is wonderful, the environment is upscale yet everyone is a goofball, and the pay is good for a college student, such as I. Now about the same time that I was hired, so was a manager. In the beginning he seemed pretty chill, maybe he was just trying to get on everyone's good side, yet seems to micro manage everything and everyone. It's come to my attention that he gives many of the staff a hard time and can even come off passively aggressive. Today I literally had to walk off the lobby floor and go to the kitchen to shed some tears over such frustration that he's Ben given me and that I've been dealing with that now seems to be to a point where I don't know if the stress is worth working there, with him as a manager. After a long shift, without my full break, while the crowd died down, and the reservations were cleared off for the night (I work as a hostess there), I took 15 minuets to chat w my coworker in the front area because I noticed him all alone and waned to let some of his time fly and he talked away about his life issue that he seemed to b dealing w for the moment. As a coworker, as a friend, I listened. Still, as guests walked in and out, I gave them my full attention, saying hello, good evening or have a great night, thank you for coming... Bla bla bla. I noticed the manager walking by here and there but says nothing until some point he says, " are we don't w reservations." I reply w yes and he just say okay you can go home/ you can leave and just dismisses me and walks away. Puzzled I walked behind him noticing it was only 9pm when I am scheduled till 11pm. I seen him chat w my other manager and I find out from him that he tells him that he's sending me home because I've been chit chatting in the front for a half hour and what not, which was b.s, couldn't have been more than 15 mins at the max! Firstly, I don't understand why he was so passive aggressive in dismissing me without explanation of what I have done and secondly, why he told me one thing and my other manger another who was puzzled himself. When I asked my manager (the passive aggressive one)why he was sending me home, he pulled me into his office to discuss it further. I could see his patience running low. And he justified his answer w "I'm trying to save money", as if 15 mins of me standing in the front talking discreetly would harm a crowd of no one, which no one actually needed me at the Moment, the place was getting empty. I don't how how to handle this. The staff advised me to talk to the supervisor, but I don't want to jeopardize my character nor my position in the work place or even with this manger that I can't seem to get things right with. Everyone else always praises me on how well I work and what a great job I've been doing and how happy to have me as their new hostess. This manager fired the previous one, which she claimed that
Addy - 19-Feb-16 @ 9:11 AM
My GM, DGM, Senior Excutive and my Head of HR performance wrong from external auditor last year regarding staff performance appraisal which they provide power to head HR and senior executive to decide the performance rate of staff without any official agreement from staff. Head HR still wish to promote her relative and someone who she think that they are in her side. One more thing, performance rate of executive also high than the other while his task is not productivity, some product such as ebanking can't be used nationwide but can only among staff.
Joe - 9-Jan-16 @ 4:04 PM
@mrmjau -it is quite difficult to suggest any advice above and beyond what our website offers as a lot of it is down to the workers' discretion. Perhaps she could obtain some external advice from the CAB. If you have a HR officer, she might also be able to informally approach him/her for further advice in confidence. I hope this helps.
ComplaintExpert - 27-Oct-14 @ 11:44 AM
One of the managers at my workplace has hurted one of my collegues. Even if she has some overweight, I'm sure she hasn't deserved to hear from him "You are too fat for these sweets", I don't remember exact words, but that what he ment. After that she could't stop crying for about an hour. She took all her strength to come back to work after lunch time. And it's not only about her. He says rude words to other people as well. We are scared to go to speak with higher managers, we are afraid to loose our jobs. What can my collegue do about him? Thank You for your attention
mrmjau - 25-Oct-14 @ 1:37 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the ComplaintExpert website. Please read our Disclaimer.