How To Deal with an Incompetent Boss

There’s nothing worse than working under an incompetent boss.  An incompetent boss is someone whose actions destroy group camaraderie.  They use their own skills to get noticed and promoted instead of encouraging their subordinates and giving them feedback.  They lack the interpersonal communication skills, vision, and patience required to resolve conflict in the group.  At worse, they take credit for your work, and are intrusive, petty, controlling, and picky.  They also get paid way higher than you do.

Everyone has had to deal with a bad boss at one point in your life, but just because you have one, doesn’t mean you have to quit your job. No matter how bad he or she gets, these might help you deal with an incompetent boss.

  1. Try to understand your boss and why he or she might be behaving this way. This is easier said than done, because it will require sympathy and empathy from you.  Did you know that your boss might not actually be aware that he or she is a “bad” boss?  It could be that he or she lacks training and is so overwhelmed by the job requirements that he or she cannot provide adequate support and feedback for you. In the age of downsizing, he might have been promoted too quickly and might have been asked to take on more work.  Other “bad” bosses might think that behaving brusquely is a way to empower the staff and may not realize that these tactics are insulting. There’s also the possibility that your boss might not share your values. For instance, employees today believe in using vacation time in order to balance their life and work.  Unfortunately, not all bosses believe in this!
  2. Talk to your boss and tell him or her about your needs. For instance, if you’d like more feedback, say so politely. Don’t accuse him or her of being a bad boss, as this will just create conflict and keep you from meeting your goals.
  3. Seek a mentor among other superiors or more skilled coworkers to develop your skills and increase your opportunity for more experience.
  4. If these actions haven’t worked, speak with your boss’s manager and ask for assistance.  You can also bring this up to the human resources.  Understand that there may be a chance that your boss will be upset at you for taking this to a higher level, so make sure that you did what you could with him before going up the line.
  5. Wait a couple of weeks for your actions to have its desired impact. It takes time for old habits to change.
  6. If your work situation still stays the same despite doing all these, and if you think the problem is that the higher-ups don’t believe you, ask the help of other coworkers who also experience your boss’s “bad” behavior. As a group, talk to the manager to help him or her see the impact of your boss’s behavior.
  7. If your boss really refuses to change, ask to be transferred to another department or find a new job.


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