I have a boss who reminds me from time to time that he hired me and it sounds that I owe something to him.

It was one time when he told me that I should I understand whom I'm pleasing in this company after I reported to the CEO that my management is going to delay a huge project and I didn't have any options.

What's an effective way to deal with this attitude? I don't want to keep hearing these reminders.

  • 1
    is the question about "how to deal with boss saying i owe him" or "how to say that my management is going to delay a huge project"?
    – Kepotx
    Aug 7, 2018 at 14:46
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    This question is really about dealing with the fallout from going over your boss' head, not about the one comment that your boss keeps making. Aug 7, 2018 at 14:50
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    What’s the objective here? I mean, my knee jerk response would be something along the lines of “remember, I’m in IT, so I can get someone else to hire me tomorrow”, but I’m guessing you’re not looking for ways to tell the guy off or quit. (Although, if you are, I’ve got lots of fun suggestions). So what is your actual objective here? What exactly do you mean by “handle” this? Aug 7, 2018 at 17:13
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    I think a lot more detail is needed to answer this question. How big is the company? What's the organizational structure? Is your boss also the owner, etc. What prompts him to make these comments? How experienced are you in your field? AKA, did he take a chance on you, or do you have a killer resume? There's a context to these comments that you haven't provided us with, and which would determine the best way to approach the situation.
    – AndreiROM
    Aug 7, 2018 at 17:28
  • @JoeStrazzere I would have voted to close not because of opinion-based but because unclear what he is asking. The body of the question looks like he is trying to deal with fallout of bypassing his manager, which does not match with the title. If that is cleared up I would be willing to vote to re-open.
    – Anketam
    Aug 7, 2018 at 20:44

4 Answers 4


If you're in a position where you can easily find a new job you could always answer by saying something like:

"Yes you hired me and I chose to work with you."

This is a bold answer, but maybe your boss needs a reminder that employment is a contract agreed on both sides?

  • 1
    In the end, the company hired him, and the company is paying his salary. Now if the "boss" is paying his salary out of his own pocket, that's different
    – gnasher729
    Aug 7, 2018 at 14:39
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    I agree with the spirit of this answer, but I feel like it would play a lot better to both validate the boss and assert the two-way nature of the relationship. Something like, "Yes, you hired me and I chose to work with you." A choice was made by both parties. Aug 7, 2018 at 14:49
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    "If you're in a position where you can easily find a new job" this condition has to apply. And even then, the confrontation likely won't pay off. OP seems to have made a mistake and should try to mend the rift instead of attacking.
    – Chieron
    Aug 7, 2018 at 15:59
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    IMO this is a bit in your face too much in an already tense situation.
    – Neo
    Aug 7, 2018 at 17:25
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    The boss is already upset because OP went over his head. Making even more confrontational remarks will sour their relationship even more, and might even get the OP fired. A better approach would be to advise how to defuse the situation.
    – Masked Man
    Aug 8, 2018 at 3:23

Your manager may feel like you threw him under the bus.

There are times when escalating a concern to more senior management is appropriate, but if you feel compelled to do so, be prepared for fallout like this.

You went outside the chain of command and complained about management decisions to the CEO. This type of behavior will not endear you to your boss. If your primary goal is a more harmonious relationship with your supervisor, try to avoid complaining to the CEO, and instead make use of the chain of command.

Of course, if your complaints are well founded and the boss hasn't been listening, escalating your concerns is the only professional response.

  • 3
    To expand a bit, my definition of professionalism requires that the individual put the concerns of the company she works for ahead of the concerns about individual relationships with coworkers. If you find that you have a valid concern that is being discounted by your direct supervisor, you have a responsibility to the organization to escalate within the chain of command. Mind you, this is true for a very small subset of cases. E.G. Sexual Harassment complaints, ethics complaints, etc.
    – Lumberjack
    Aug 7, 2018 at 16:05
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    I would urge you to include that in your answer. It may well be a truism but that does not mean the explanation is not necessary here. Aug 7, 2018 at 16:29
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    He may also think you're making a play at his job. Incompetent people tend to be insecure in their position and see everything as a threat.
    – corsiKa
    Aug 7, 2018 at 16:40
  • He may also see that as a valid play for his job. Competence may not enter. This is the career game - even competent people will make sure they keep their position secure.
    – TomTom
    Aug 7, 2018 at 17:17

A contract is always a two-ways agreement:

  • You choose to work with them, as much as he chooses to hire you.
  • He wins money, thanks to you, as much as you win money, thanks to him.

It's a win-win situation, otherwise, you wouldn't sign it.

  • Actually no. WHile this may be true for you and me, I can tell you that "choose to work for him" for many people a lot of the time is the choice of job or no job. And social nets often are not worth it. So, seriously, this is not a decent general advice.
    – TomTom
    Aug 7, 2018 at 17:27

I would start by not going over his head again, EVER.

You just burned a bridge badly and are asking where to find more lighter fluid.

How you should handle it is to apologize to your boss for going over his head, tell him it won't happen again, and then try to rebuild the trust you lost by going over his head.

Hopefully, you told him before you went to the CEO and didn't catch him unawares, or it will be even harder to rebuild the trust he had in you.

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    Blanket statements are NEVER wise ;) Seriously though, while I agree it is usually unwise to go over your manager's head, there are times when it is the proper and ethical thing to do for the company. The distinction would improve this answer, imho. The size of the company is also important. I report directly to one of the owners but the CEO sometimes asks my opinion. It's much less formal than a large company.
    – CramerTV
    Aug 7, 2018 at 15:53
  • +1 RichardU, +1 @CramerTV. Virtually never... The OP doesn't have to 'like' or 'agree' with what the boss said, but it's vital he learn something positive from the boss's feedback. The boss is more experienced, esp. politics, and he's sending a strong message that he didn't appreciate the OP's actions (and that he controls his remuneration). There are nuggets of gold to be mined. Aug 7, 2018 at 17:08
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    Follow the chain of command first unless gross negligence is displayed.
    – Neo
    Aug 7, 2018 at 17:30
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    I have to downvote this, and I rarely do that for Richard U's answers. This is based on the premise of inequality between the manager and the employee. That is not the case. A manager is not a "superior life form." If they didn't adequately convey the business case for their actions, then they failed as a manager. An employee who feels it necessary to escalate a situation may not be correct, but to leave them feeling that way means they've either been ignored or dismissed. Sometimes the employee's plan won't work, but if you can't explain that respectfully, you shouldn't be a manager. Aug 7, 2018 at 20:19

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