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Don’t you just hate it when you have to deal with a horrible boss?

And by horrible, we mean a boss you can’t stand.

No matter how hard you try, you can’t continue to work together.

But you must remember that there’s a difference between a challenging project and a challenging boss. We are after the challenging (read horrible) boss.

Quick question:

Can you fit a square peg into a round hole? The answer is NO!

Therefore, trying to work with a challenging and a terribly annoying boss is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole – which we know won’t fit anyway.

That’s how you know that it is time to fire your boss.

Now, wouldn’t it be great if we showed you how to fire your boss… nicely? So that you don’t burn your bridges?

Keep reading and we’ll show you exactly how.

“Breakups hurt, but losing someone who doesn’t respect and appreciate you is actually a gain, not a loss.” – Unknown

9 Signs of a Terrible Boss Who You Should Fire

Difference Between A Boss And A LEader
Image from: Visually

1. The Mr-Know-It-All Boss

Rigid to take advice. If an idea is not theirs, they won’t be pleased.

How do you guide a boss through what’s supposed to be done if they don’t give you some form of respect as an industry expert?

2. Doesn’t Stick to Deadlines

“Time is money says the proverb, but turn it around and you get a precious truth. Money is time.” George Gissing

You have a busy schedule. You want everything to run smoothly.

Not so much when your boss keeps missing deadlines. Your whole schedule will be in chaos.

3. Gives Unreasonable Rounds of Revisions

You’ve done a good job – and you know it. You’ve got that gut feeling.

But your boss knit-picks your work and keeps making you do revisions. How can you move on if you have to do 21 revisions on a single project?

4. Unreasonably Demanding

Before you got onto a project, you determined the project scope. Now, the boss wants to stretch that project beyond that original scope. And you guessed right, it will eat into your profit.

5. Knocks Your Confidence

Does your boss:

  • Make you feel that you are not good enough?
  • Constantly put you down?
  • Criticize your work without saying what it is that they want?

That is a confidence knocker.

You are better off without such a client. Otherwise, you may get sucked into a spiral of self-doubt which may choke your virtual assistant business.

Check out: Incredible Motivational Tips for Achieving Success and Happiness.

6. You Find the Work Unsuitable

Sometimes, it is not about the boss. Rather it is about the project. You may find the task at hand:

Click image to download the Cheat Sheet.
  • Uninspiring
  • Boring
  • Does not fit with the rest of your work
  • Is not in line with your long-term vision
  • Won’t take the best advantage of your skills

Here’s how to handle such a situation: review your objective and decide on the type of clients you want.

Constantly taking on tasks you don’t enjoy doing will drain your working morale.

7. You Don’t Like the Boss

Your boss may not be a perfect fit. But there’s a way you can gel with that boss and know that working together will be a great success.

However, when it comes to a boss you don’t like, trust your gut feeling.

It could be that:

  • The boss is constantly moaning about their life
  • The boss doesn’t give you a clear brief
  • You can’t please her no matter what
  • The boss can’t communicate properly
  • You keep running into misunderstandings

You are better off firing such a boss rather than putting up with her.

Think about this for a moment:

Would you rather keep up with such a boss only to end up regretting why it took you so long to realize that she was a massive weight on your shoulders?

8. The Boss Is Rude to You

There are bullies everywhere, but as a virtual assistant do not stomach a rude boss just because he pays you well and on time.

Want the truth?

A rude client doesn’t care about you and never will.

So why should you work with someone who you can’t manage and dread talking to?

9. He/she Pays You Late

What would you rather do:

Chase after a boss week in week out, over unpaid invoices? And keep worrying whether you will ever get your money?


Work with a boss who pays you on time so that you get to move on to better things?

Your guess is as good as ours.

How to Decide to Fire Your Boss

work motivational quote
Image from: Be Leaderly

Do you remember how excited you were when you first started your online journey as a virtual assistant?

And the anxiety that came with it – wondering if you would ever get clients? And if you had the capacity to do the work right and earn a paycheck?

Fast forward…

Here you are, contemplating firing your boss. How do you decide on this?

Warning: Don’t wake up in the middle of the night and decide to fire your boss. Or worse still, in the heat of the moment, decide it is time to kiss your boss (not literally) goodbye.

You’re a mature adult, aren’t you? And a professional virtual assistant, right? Think through your decision first.

There are exceptions to the rules though. If your boss has:

  • Sexually harassed you
  • Made racist remarks
  • Made inappropriate statements
  • Made offensive remarks
  • Isn’t paying you as per your contract

Forget this process and go legal.

How to Confirm That You’re Dealing With a Problem Boss

Exhaust all possible solutions for making the situation better

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you need more clarity around the project?
  • Does the boss need to provide a more detailed briefing document?
  • Is there a better way to manage your boss’s expectations?

Try and get solutions to these questions.

However, if the client remains unhappy with the deliverables (and is incapable of explaining his or her reasons) despite your efforts to work out a solution, then it is time to say goodbye.

Check your Ego

Sometimes you may actually be the one at fault. So what can you do about that?

Check your ego by asking yourself these questions:

  • Is it that my boss didn’t like my idea?
  • Is it that I had to deal with several revisions of my submitted work? And it drove me nuts!? Yet my boss was not unreasonable?
  • Did I pay close attention to exactly what my boss was looking for in that project?

When you honestly answer these questions, you will be able to decide who is at fault.

Is the client making you lose money?

Honestly, there are projects that eat into your profit margins – no matter how hard you try.

Therefore, keep your eye on your billable hours. That way, you can quickly notice when the boss is making you lose money.

Remember, projects that eat into your profit margins are not worth waking up for.

Take a deep breath

Remember how we talked about not acting in the heat of the moment? Now it’s time to take a break from your “firing your boss agenda” and breathe more easily.

  • Sleep over it
  • Go for a walk
  • Have a meal
  • Pray
  • Talk to someone about it – someone whose opinion you value

If you still feel that you need to let off some steam, write a mock email to your client. Pour out your heart. Leave no stone unturned. Just lay it all bare in one long (long!) email.



Hitting the send button could be a costly business mistake.

So what do you do? Let your mock email be until the next day.

When you come back to read your email with a fresh eye, you might realise that you were too harsh and even unprofessional.

Now you’re ready to write the real email.

How to Tell Your Boss He’s Fired

employer and employee relationship chart
Image from: myideaology

You’ve come a long way. And at this point, without a shadow of a doubt, you are ready to end business with your boss.

What do you do next?

Put it Writing (Politely)

Forget the first email you wrote – where you were spitting fire. It had its therapeutic benefits. Your second email will be the wiser one. You will actually send it.

Something to keep in mind…

  • Don’t burn your bridges. You may need to cross the same bridges down the road, someday. Stay classy
  • Be professional. It’s a small world no matter how big a city you live in. And you never know who’s talking to whom, and where that boss may show up again in another context
  • And remember, good old Karma may catch up with you

“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours”. – Wayne Dyer

Do Not Lie

Do not be tempted to lie about the reason why you are terminating the working relationship. Remember honesty is the best policy.

And who knows, that client may learn from their past mistakes and be a better client with their next virtual assistant.

While at it, don’t be overbearing. Instead, state your reasons without necessarily going into intricate details or lying.

Say something like:

“It seems like we haven’t been able to find a way to work together that is beneficial for both sides”

No need to get into specifics of he said/she said variety. Stick to the high road.

Don’t Just Send an Email

Sometimes, it pays to go the extra mile.

How about you pick up the phone and ring that troublesome boss?

Talking on the phone will give you a chance to politely express your decision.

Chances are the client will pick up your polite tone – a better way to minimize any hard feelings.

Don’t Leave Your Boss in the Lurch

When you fire your boss, mean it.

Next, clearly lay out the necessary steps that will follow to ensure a smooth transition between you and that boss.

  • Give notice
  • Finish up the client’s deliverables (as long as they have paid you)
  • Follow your terms and conditions to the letter

You can recommend another virtual assistant (who may be a good fit) to the client. But, be sure to ask the other virtual assistant beforehand.

Don’t Slander Your Fired Boss

No matter how tempting it might be to yell at the top of your voice about how awful your boss was… DON’T.

  • It is unprofessional of you
  • It is not worth the energy you are putting into such anger. Use that energy to
  • find better clients instead

Learn to let go.

Exception: You can warn other virtual assistants if the client was a bad payer or abusive.

Good Riddance to a Horrible Boss!

inspirational quote
Image from: quotes.land

Firing your boss is not an easy decision. But as we’ve explained, when you spot the red flags, the boss has to go.

And that’s how you move on to better clients.

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Photo by josealbafotos / CC BY


I'm Katrina McKinnon, founder of McKinnon Group and Small Revolution. I'm using my 20 years' experience in building and operating online businesses to create engaging educational materials that helps others become successful online workers. Find me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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