7 tips for telling your boss that you don't enjoy your job

If you're experiencing ongoing challenges with professional fulfilment and you haven't had an honest conversation with your boss about how you're feeling, then you could be missing out on a valuable opportunity to make some positive changes. They could also be missing out on the opportunity to retain you as an employee.

The secret is to frame the conversation in a way that they can see the benefits for them of engaging in it.

Depending on your relationship with your boss, you may find the prospect daunting and worry about negative repercussions. Some bosses undoubtedly find these conversations difficult too. However there are ways to prepare for a conversation like this to optimise your chance of a positive outcome. The secret is to frame the conversation in a way that they can see the benefits for them of engaging in it.

Here's how to get the most from the conversation:

  1. Be clear on what a good outcome from the conversation looks like and plan for this. Consider as part of this what your boss may need or want from the conversation too.
  2. Visualise yourself having a great meeting with your boss. Notice what you want to look like, sound like and be like and rehearse this mentally in advance of the meeting. Equally think about what you DON'T want to be doing, and remind yourself of these before the meeting.
  3. Frame the challenges that you are facing in terms of their impact in three areas: on you, on your boss and on business success. Try your best to link the three.
  4. Be positive. Yes you're experiencing challenges but come prepared with some proactive suggestions that could improve things for you, your boss and the business.
  5. Consider what barriers or challenges may come up in the conversation, and have a plan to deal with these. That way you are less likely to be thrown off course by something unexpected.
  6. Be confident. Know that you're going to share your thoughts constructively and show that you're committed to business success. Also don't be afraid to make bold but reasonable requests if you can see that there is a benefit for the business too. See what you're doing as being valuable and productive rather than something to be afraid of.
  7. Choose your time and place carefully. Minimise the chance of interruptions and ensure you have enough time planned in. Give your boss a heads up about what you'd like to talk about so they have time to prepare too. Taking your boss for a coffee, or even out for lunch, could be a nice touch.

Still undecided about whether it's worth taking the risk of opening up to your boss?

Think about the consequences if you do nothing. If you don't talk to your boss and carry on as you are, what would this mean for you? Are you ok with this? Then, think about the payoff for you if you can pull this off and engage your boss in making positive changes to your role. What does this tell you?

If you're not feeling fulfilled in your role, then rather than suffering in silence or hoping that things will get better, you can choose to do something about it. No one can legislate for how your boss will respond, but you can influence them by being prepared, positive and confident.

Do you have other tips or experiences? Please do share them!

Sihem Bounoua is Founder of Rhapsody and a professional executive coach, supporting driven senior professionals to excel at what they do. www.rhapsodycoaching.co.uk/seniorprofessionals.

Sometimes you just need to listen to what you are telling yourself.

Recently I worked with a client who had tried for years to grow her business without success. The aim for the business was to reach a point where she could either sell it or employ staff to run it for her, however the business revenue had remained at a constant level for some time.

She knew what she needed to achieve and why she needed to achieve it, but it just wasn't happening. The client came to coaching because she hoped that it would help her to develop some new ideas that she hadn't previously thought of.

As soon as we started our work together, ideas and actions just came pouring out. The client could list out in great detail the steps she needed to take to reach the targets she had set for the business.

The client had been stuck for so long, but it became clear very quickly that this was nothing to do with a shortage of ideas or business acumen. We honed in on two things:

  1. Her heart just wasn't in it at that point. The way that she was currently operating in her leadership role within the business left her feeling bored and lacking in fulfilment. So she was avoiding doing what she knew needed to be done.
  2. She lacked confidence in herself to drive the business forward and feared 'failure'. There was comfort and safety in coasting along, including a great work-life balance and a stable dynamic with her business partner. So pushing herself to do more with the business, and herself, was proving to be a challenge.

Our work helped the client to first and foremost listen to what she knew already: that it was her current mindset that was holding her back from growing the business and not that she didn't have the business know-how.

With this new awareness she could stop feeling frustrated and start moving forward. We worked on:

  • Expanding the client's leadership presence in the business. For example, by taking greater ownership for monitoring business performance, taking more time to engage personally with staff and publicly making leadership decisions without unnecessarily deferring to her business partner.
  • Redefining the structure of her business day so that she could concentrate on what needed to be done at times when she felt at her most productive.
  • Utilising her motivators. We identified that focussing on the lifestyle benefits of achieving the business goals made her put the hours in, even when some of the tasks weren't inspiring her. We clearly defined both the payoff of achieving her business goals and the consequences of not doing so, regularly revisiting these throughout our work together.

The end result was that the client experienced a step change in her enthusiasm for leading the business, and this showed in the business performance. She admitted to 'loving' her job again and action bred more action. The business, in her words, was 'booming' and she was on track to achieving her revenue targets within the year.

What struck me about this example is that when we are feeling stuck, some or all of the answer is already within us. We just need to listen to what we are telling ourselves, even when we are saying something that we don't really want to hear.

If we can do this, then we are in a better position to decide on the best way forward for us that aligns with our personal values, drivers and context, which ultimately leads to greater success and fulfilment in our careers.

What are you telling yourself that you really need to listen to?


Are you facing similar challenges?

If reading this article has resonated with a personal challenge, then you may benefit from working with an executive coach.  I offer a FREE complimentary coaching session to potential clients to try out coaching and help them decide if they would like to work with me.  Please get in touch to book your free session.


Sihem Bounoua is an Executive Coach and Founder of Rhapsody Leadership Development (www.rhapsodycoaching.co.uk), supporting medical leaders and other senior professionals to enhance their leadership impact, so that they can advance their career and achieve greater professional fulfilment.

Test the waters with a *complimentary* first coaching session

Have you been wondering about leadership coaching for a while, but you haven't been quite sure where to start in finding a coach? 

Or perhaps you haven't come across coaching before, but you know that you need some kind of additional support to enhance your leadership impact and move forward in your leadership career?

Hiring a coach to support you in making a personal change is a commitment.  It takes time, focus and resources from client and coach to deliver results through coaching, and you will want to know upfront that your investment is worthwhile.

Evidence shows that the relationship between the client and coach is the number one factor for success in coaching, however it can be a real challenge in finding someone that is right for you.  That's why I now offer a complimentary, no obligation first coaching session to help you to decide if you would like to partner with me as your coach in achieving your leadership goals and aspirations.

Typically in this first session we will delve into your current situation and then help you to define your personal development goals and measures of success.  So that whatever you decide by the end of the session, you will have a clear focus for your development as a leader and some practical next steps to take PLUS you will have experienced coaching with me.

If as a result we do decide to partner in achieving your leadership goals, then I'll have all the information that I need as your coach to create a personalised coaching programme that will best support you.

To book your complimentary coaching session, please get in touch.

To find out more about coaching with Rhapsody:

#executivecoaching #medicalleadership #doctors #leadership #personaldevelopment

A Leader's guide to planning change

As a change consultant and coach, I've produced more plans with, and on behalf of, board executives and other senior professionals than I can remember: strategic plans, programme plans, business plans, workforce plans...the list goes on. The following three things have struck me about this:

1. Planning is a popular activity. Almost every client that I have worked with has asked for help with creating a plan. Essentially, they want to move from a messy, nebulous place of challenge to a place of clarity where they and their staff are engaged and motivated to take action.

2. Having a plan on paper can lead clients to think that they have a challenge 'in hand'. Yet a plan in itself does not deliver change. It's an enabler. The most important element of a plan is the engagement and thought process that creates it.

3. Existing plans can often lack the clarity needed to focus people on action and to be held to account for this.

So, my learning here is that organisations have a need for planning to bring clarity and to engage people in taking the right action, however, leaders don't always know how to articulate what a good planning process looks like. In this article, I share some of my most important learning about planning for change in the form of nine recommended steps for leaders to consider when they are heading up change planning within their organisations.

STEP 1: Get clear on the challenge that you are trying to address.

This is an engagement exercise right from the start. Get the important people together that are part of, or are affected by, the challenge and understand its constituent parts. Lead workshops, meet people, visit departments, talk to customers / service users, send out surveys and so on. Listen. Be curious. Task your change team with capturing the intel centrally and theme it. What does this tell you about the challenge that you are trying to address? What impact is it having on staff, customers and other parties? What are the real root causes of this challenge? Who is involved? Ask for data to evidence the challenge but don't let this hold you back from making progress.

STEP 2: Imagine the future.

Now, imagine that the challenge has been addressed. Create a shared vision of what this future would look like. Ask your leaders and other stakeholders to imagine this future in their minds and expand on this using open questions. Encourage people to draw, write or say what comes up for them. Ask: What can you see? How do you feel? What are our staff saying? What are they doing? What are our customers / service users saying? Who is part of this future? What else is going on? Get clear on when this future is happening and use this to create your first 'line in the sand'

STEP 3: Define a shared vision.

The first two steps should produce a lot of information. Use your change resource to condense and summarise what has been produced, sharing this back with those who have contributed and others who will be affected by the change. Listen to the feedback. Turn all this information into a clear statement of the challenge and a vision that you and the leadership team are committed to publicising and delivering.

STEP 4: Define your change outcomes.

From the vision define three (and not more than five) measurable outcomes that you commit to achieving. An example outcome may be to recruit and retain the most highly trained staff in your field or to improve customer / service user satisfaction. For each outcome, ask your change team to define up to three measures that will indicate that you are making progress in the right direction for each outcome. For example, % turnover rates or customer feedback scores.

STEP 5: Create the bones of your plan.

Assemble a small, multi-disciplinary team to define the most significant changes that will achieve each outcome. A tool like a driver diagram can be useful here, to break down each outcome into primary drivers, secondary drivers and key actions. Alternatively, a version of a creative visualisation tool called 'future pacing' is to ask the team to imagine that they are looking backwards in time from having achieved your vision and to then define how they got there, starting with the most recent change.

STEP 6: Put flesh on the bones.

Schedule your agreed changes along a timeline. The mistake that I often see is that plans consist of a huge list of tasks. A clear plan that can be managed effectively focusses on key milestones, which at your level, should be a limited number of significant changes (not hundreds of tasks) that together, build towards your change outcomes. A milestone is a 'line in the sand': it says that by this date we will aim to have achieved x. For example, our new technology is live by January 2020.

STEP 7: Empower the right people.

As the leader, you are accountable for the achievement of the vision and outcomes. For each milestone, ensure that there is just one person that you empower to take responsibility for planning, delivery and reporting back. This person requires the right leadership mindset to be able to engage with others and motivate them to take action. Provide coaching and mentoring support to help your change leaders to reflect, learn and develop as they go. It's their role to tell you what they need to be successful and your role to respond to this supportively whilst holding them to account.

STEP 8: Keep on top of real and potential challenges from the outset.

Keep risk and issue management simple throughout your change programme. Use the engagement activities up front to get risks and issues out on the table and delegate the significant ones to named individuals. Ensure that your change team and other leaders are continually building and maintaining relationships and acting as your eyes and ears.

Ask regularly for the top 3 risks (important things that might happen) and top 3 issues (important things that are actually happening) that need senior intervention or review. For example, someone senior not playing ball, a delay from a supplier or a legal pitfall on the horizon. Troubleshoot these openly with your change leaders or coach them to come up with their own solutions. Keep on top of the most important ones.

STEP 9: Be flexible but stay focussed on the vision and outcomes.

The flow of change may not go as planned. Keep reminding people why you are making the change and what the future will be like for them as a result. Reflect regularly on progress with your change leaders using coaching conversations. Encourage people to speak their minds and be prepared to act on what you hear.


Change is a somewhat organic process; however, planning is still essential to focus people on taking the right action towards a shared vision. Stay connected to people throughout your planning process and beyond. Provide coaching, mentoring and facilitation to support people and teams to reflect and grow. Finally, be willing to be flexible and refine your organisation's planning process each time you use it so that it evolves to best fit your needs.


Sihem Bounoua is an Executive Coach and Founder of Rhapsody Senior Professionals (www.rhapsodycoaching.co.uk/seniorprofessionals) and Rhapsody Medical Leadership Development (www.rhapsodycoaching.co.uk/medical).