How To Tell Your Manager You’re Unhappy at Work

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated August 11, 2022 | Published April 17, 2020

Updated August 11, 2022

Published April 17, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A person looks at a computer monitor while resting their chin in their hand.

If you're unhappy in your current position, talking to your manager is a great way to be proactive and make changes to help you find enjoyment and satisfaction in your work. Having a constructive conversation with your manager is a great way to help them understand what you dislike about your role so you can find a solution together. Learning about different ways to tell your manager you are unhappy can help you approach the conversation in a positive and effective way.

In this article, we share why it's important to talk to your manager about this topic and how to tell your manager you're unhappy in a constructive way.


Why it's important tell your manager you're unhappy

Sometimes managers have no idea that their employees are unhappy in their roles. Most would prefer that their employees came to them to discuss the problem and find a resolution rather than lose a great employee and have to find and train someone new. In fact, it's far more cost-effective for companies to look for solutions to retain talented employees and keep morale high. Your manager will most likely be eager to brainstorm ways to help you find personal satisfaction in your work again.

Related: How To Deal With Job Dissatisfaction

How to tell your manager you're unhappy

Use these steps to have a positive and constructive conversation with your manager about your current satisfaction levels within the company:

1. Understand the issues

The first step you should take is to put your thoughts about your current work situation in writing. Identify what it is about your job, exactly, thatcausing your dissatisfaction. By writing down or making a list of everything that's making you unhappy about your work situation, you can more easily identify the real issues. It also gives you an outlet to release any negativity you may be feeling before you speak with your manager.

Related: 15 Signs You Hate Your Job (and What To Do About It)

2. Prepare what you'll say

Next, you should prepare what you're going to say. For each point, prepare an idea for improvement. For every point that you make about why you're unhappy in your current situation, offer a solution. This will help you stay focused on problems that can be resolved and keep the conversation constructive.

If possible, look for ways that your suggestions will improve efficiency or morale for the entire workforce, or at least your department. Your manager will be much more receptive during the meeting if you're prepared with multiple positive solutions and are focused on the improvement of the company as a whole.

Identifying resolutions for specific problems will also help you determine whether your supervisor can help you with the issue. In some cases, your dissatisfaction could be linked to a companywide policy or another factor that's out of your manager's control. If this is the case, you may want to schedule a meeting with someone in HR who may be better able to help you find a solution.

Related: 12 Ways To Ensure a Successful Meeting With Your Boss

3. Schedule a meeting

Schedule a meeting with your manager to ensure they have an uninterrupted block of time. When you're scheduling the meeting, let them know that you would like to discuss some ideas you have in regards to making the company stronger or improving employee morale. This will help them to approach the meeting with an open mind and will increase the likelihood that they'll be receptive to your suggestions.

Related: How To Schedule a Meeting by Email

4. Monitor your body language

In order to ensure the meeting remains positive from beginning to end, it's important to monitor your body language. At the end of the meeting, shake your manager's hand firmly and let them know you appreciate their time. Emphasize that you're confident that together you can make changes that will improve the work environment for everyone in your department.

Related: How To Understand Body Language in the Workplace

5. Explain why you're unhappy

State your concerns with a positive attitude. While you're telling your manager about issues with which you may be unhappy, you can do so in a way that's respectful. Avoid blaming your manager or any individuals in your company. Instead, calmly explain how you have been feeling about your position and why you haven't been as excited about your work lately.

Keep the conversation as positive as possible and focus less on the fact that you're unhappy and more on the idea that you're trying to find enjoyment in your role again. Your manager will likely appreciate your commitment to finding satisfaction and enjoyment in your work and may have recommendations for what can help motivate you.

Related: What To Do When You're Unhappy at Work

6. Present solutions

Balance out any negativity by immediately presenting a list of proposed solutions. This will show your manager that you have put thought into the problem and that you want to find a way to resolve it. It shows you're a problem solver and that you take responsibility for your career. A great approach for this conversation is to pair every concern with a solution that might be mutually beneficial for both you and the company.

Related: What To Do if You Hate Your Job but It Pays Well: 5 Tips

7. Ask for ideas

If you don't have any ideas for how to solve the problem, use the meeting as an opportunity to ask your manager for their suggestions. This is particularly useful if the problem you're having involves another coworker. In this situation, your manager may have recommendations for how you can improve the relationship. They may be able to recommend tactics that have been effective in the past. If they don't have any suggestions or if you have tried those approaches already, you can brainstorm other ideas together.

Related: 11 Reasons You Might Feel Stuck in Your Job

8. Move forward

If you're able to identify a solution, then it's time to get started on making the recommended changes. Depending on the ideas that you generated during the meeting, you may need to do more planning, especially if your manager recommended ideas you hadn't considered. If significant changes are required, further meetings may be necessary to make the idea a reality. If the meeting with your manager did not produce real solutions, then you may want to consider whether it's time to look for opportunities elsewhere or quit.

Nonverbal communication is one of many tools that can help you make a good impression in interviews and in your professional life. However, candidate assessments should be based on skills and qualifications, and workplaces should strive to be inclusive and understanding of individual differences in communication styles.

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