Complaining to HR about your Manager?

Have you ever had to complain to HR about your manager? That can be a tough proposition and take you out of your comfort zone.

I was inspired to write this in follow up to an experience I had helping someone who had a caustic relationship with his manager. Yet by writing this, I hope to impress upon you how to improve as a manager, if that is you, but from here on, “you” means the person being treated like dog-feces under the thumb of someone else.

As a former manager, I’ve had the opportunity to both be complained about and to work out things in a noble fashion, so I’m not here to judge, just to help.

 Let’s get on with it…

Now that you've complained to HR, you feel like you're standing out like the Eiffel Tower (photo 199 by Challen Yee)

Now that you’ve complained to HR, you feel like you’re standing out like the Eiffel Tower (photo 199 by Challen Yee)



While we cannot know the particulars of every work conflict situation, what can I assume if you are in a position where you have grievances against your boss, he appears unreceptive to any normal feedback, and your life as an employee is miserable?

In order to assess what kind of position you are in, understand the documented history between you and your boss. Is there anything negative about you in any written counseling or evaluation? If not that is a better position for you to be in.

That means two things:
1) It will not be easy for the company to justify terminating you for bad performance (unless they make it part of a general corporate downsizing, then they can eliminate your position on a whim, no matter what).

2) Your manager is inexperienced in proper managing and probably too high on ego if he/she is always putting you down for lack of performance and not documenting it. From a manager’s stand point that’s like committing hari-kari. That suggests his/her style is just being a totalitarian which may work out if you consider your department a 4th world dictatorship. Oddly enough, so many departments are run like this, it’s crazy, especially when you’re talking about university educated engineers with families on both sides, it just seems weird.

This a testament to the fact that there’s not enough people who know how to manage being able to influence front line managers. You tell me why this is the case and why no one really cares to be effective in this area.

What are the chances that you as a disgruntled employee can reconcile differences with your manager after an HR mediated falling out? It depends on your relationship and both of your character. Some people are at the point in their life where they are humble enough to understand their behavior is inappropriately ego-driven and some are not. How long the passive- HR restrained – aggression may last is hard to say.

By the way, if your relationship was reasonable, it is possible you could have had a face-to-face discussion first without going to HR, but if that just seemed too scary and your manager is too dense to sense the need for it, then… what can I say, that’s what HR is supposed to be there for.

What I suspect is, if you are of good character, this exercise may broaden your view enough to see outside of the hole you’ve been forced into. Whatever you do, be as honest as possible in your assessment of others. It helps to have an attitude not to treat the other person with any less dignity than you would want to be treated, even if they seem like a jerk, he or she is still a human being having to do a job (maybe).

Whether or not HR chooses to be your advocate or not (sometimes you wonder), the fact that you took action and did something to protect yourself was most likely a major step in your personal development and getting your resume updated would be strongly advisable as you will want to consider the possibilities of transferring or leaving simply due to the fact that you may have just outgrown the farm.

Now that you have a better idea how people are, and have a greater respect for yourself for taking a stand, it will help set you up to practice your skills around people who a less Neanderthal.


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If you have a complaint about your manager and would like to air out your grievances, shoot me and email at, add at the top “Airing out”.


I’ll see you… on the next page

Challen Yee

Challen Yee


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