5 Ways To Deal With An Incompetent Boss

smarter than bossBy Susan Ricker

Everybody has an opinion about what makes a good leader, but you know one when you see one. You also know an incompetent boss when you see one. If you've just started a new job, or you're working with a newly promoted boss, what should you do if it's clear you know more than he does? Don't resign just yet. There are plenty of ways to make the relationship work for both of you.
1.Be an asset
Instead of approaching your boss as an obstacle to be dealt with, look at the relationship with an open, positive mindset. What might seem like shortcomings in your boss may actually be opportunities to complement his management style. Ken Rupert, strategic life coach, offers these three tips:

2. Be humble.
"Always understand you might know more in a given area or discipline, but you do not know everything. Therefore, learning how to manage the relationship between you and your new boss will ultimately dictate the level of your success. Knowledge gets you in the door, [but] relationships get you to the next floor.

3. Manage up.
"Learning how to coach up can position you as a thought leader. If you develop the ability to coach your boss in areas where you are more knowledgeable, you will be seen as a team asset and not a team liability. Instead of telling the boss what he should or should not do, phrase your statement in the form of a suggestion. This way, you preserve the positional authority and plant the seeds of success in the boss's mind. There may not be a lot of glory in this, but you will have the ability to influence team success.

4. Be forgiving.
"No one has the same level of experience as you do concerning you. Your boss will not know what you know. Therefore, giving him or her a little grace to step on your toes will go a long way. It also allows you to make a few mistakes along the way without repercussions. Remember, this is a new relationship. First impressions are filtered through each person's own filters. Learn to look past first impressions, and give each other the room to grow. In the end, managing relationships, coaching up and giving grace will strengthen your new boss's commitment to you."

More: 11 Things Never To Say To Your Boss

5. Most importantly, focus on the big picture.
"There's a great saying that goes, 'If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room,' says Nikolas Allen, marketing expert for BAM! Small Biz Consulting. "Good leaders know this. Just because a person is the boss does not mean they have to be the smartest person in the room. They can hire people who will add value, expertise and experience to the team. In fact, a great boss -- one with plenty of confidence and people skills -- is able to surround herself with people who are smarter, or more experienced, without fearing mutiny from the troops.

"Besides, in business, there are many responsibilities that each position is accountable for. These things simply come with the territory in the hierarchy of the business world. Leaders need to manage people, projects and time, as well as delegate, communicate, facilitate and plenty of other stuff that most employees don't have to -- and may not want to -- concern themselves with."

By changing your perspective of and interactions with your boss, you can create a successful dynamic that plays to both of your strengths and benefits the company, making the relationship a win-win.


Susan Ricker is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
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william.huntsman

If your new boss is less qualified than you, that should say something about your future there, as in none.
They deliberately looked past you, and hired or promoted some ass kisser/ idiot. time to look for something better
Anytime a company does that, they should be black listed. Incompetency starts at the top.

April 17 2013 at 4:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
teamminc

Make him or her look good.

April 16 2013 at 3:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
iamthetruther8

Bunch of BS. The federal civilian agencies are flooded with incompetents, from headquarters, regional offices to field offices, successfully bankrupting Treasury with taxpayers money.

April 08 2013 at 11:28 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
DeArtis

Baloney!!! Incompetent bosses,are dagerous and will take you down with them. Document and C.Y.A.,cause you'll get blamed for what they do or don't do. Helping covertly will get them a promotion and you be left behind to deal with another idiot.

April 08 2013 at 11:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jwyola

How about the voting booth?

April 08 2013 at 8:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
worldwarrenone

As much as I wanted to be grown when I was a kid, I'll tell you, there is NOTHING worse than some young buck actin' like their s#itty aszes don't stink, AND should be kissed. I'm not very old (I'm 42), but between my time in service, experience, and ability, these little 30-day wonders need to get it through their thick heads that we SENIOR employees do what they CANNOT do for the meager pay we get. Just because you're on your soft little az$ behind a desk and beat our pay by BlackJack Odds (3:2) doesn't mean you know everything- if you're worth the job you have in the first place.

April 08 2013 at 6:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
john

Its a big probem, incompentent managers (or "bosses", I hate that word). Thats why I'm self employed and doing pretty good, happy.

April 08 2013 at 1:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
firenewt

The best business advice I ever received concerning an incompetent boss was from the department VP. I was complaining about problems with my supervisor. The VP listened and then said "You are absolutely right in your complaints and concerns, but right don't mean ****." Took it to heart for the rest of my working life. Made a lot of things easier to take.

April 08 2013 at 12:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sstuczynsk

If you are a boss, you must make decisions. right or wrong, make one. If you make a wrong decision, you can always correct it. If you make no decision, nothing happens and things just get worse.

April 08 2013 at 11:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
skidbootinde

The worse kind of boss is the proverbial "wimp" who never wants to make any waves or say anything negative to anyone. This enables incompetent workers to get away with so much even when they should actually be disciplined or fired. It makes everyone else's job tougher, and the strong competent employees have to compensate for the boss' ineptitude as well as their colleagues'.

The scenario I describe here is best understood in the public school setting where the principal is totally ineffective. It's especially difficult to work in such an environment because a wimpy administrator is often supported by a large majority of the staff. The lazy and incompetent employees know that they can get away with their behavior and not face any accountability from the joke of a principal overseeing them.

April 08 2013 at 11:13 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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