You may have a boss who is inept. Not a horrible person – but someone who doesn’t have the knowledge, experience, skills, or judgement to do their job. They are out there in every industry and at every level. They don’t know how to manage people and they don’t know about the area of work you do. Not only is it frustrating to have this kind of boss, they can do serious damage to your career.
Knowledge – When they don’t know about the work you do, they may be unaware of how their decisions affect your career. You may end up spending time cleaning the messes they make or finding yourself in a position where you lose time, money, people, or even your position.
Direction – Most people assume that the boss will provide direction. An incompetent boss can result in no direction or a bad direction.
Support – The boss can be your biggest advocate but if they have no clue what you are doing, that support may be missing or even worse – they may create hurdles instead.
When you have a hopeless boss, you need to assess how they function. When your boss is incompetent, you do have to think through how this person functions in order to use whatever strengths they do have to your advantage. You may also have to figure out how to limit any negative impact they might have.
Figure out where the problems are and create plans to deal with them. Determine how to work around the problem when the problem may be your boss.
Be That Leader
Step in to the leadership role yourself. Figure out the best direction that will deliver the optimal results you are after. Informal leaders do this kind of thing naturally. Be advised that you don’t want to undermine your boss, so be sure to keep them in the loop.
There may be others in (or outside) of your organization that can add to your professional growth. Keep an eye out for people at more senior organizational levels that seem sharp – they might be a good addition to your career development. It can be very helpful to have someone in your corner.
Everyone Can Learn
You can teach your boss about your work every time you interact. Seems silly but over time they may learn more and more about what you are talking about.
Sometimes it’s time to go rather than stick around. If you’ve tried many things but nothing works, it may be time to depart. Too much stress and negative focus on a job takes a toll on you personally as well as professionally.
An inept boss is not the worse kind of boss. Do they throw you under the boss repeatedly? Are they manipulative? Some inadequate bosses know at some level that they fall short and they are doing the best they can with the limited ability they have. If you work for an inept boss, figure out what you can try and try it. If nothing works, assess what you can and can’t live with. Bosses (like jobs) come and go, but rarely in the time frame that you might prefer.
A large part of the stress that results from having a difficult boss tends to come from our own reaction to the situation. Think of learning how to deal with this kind of a boss as another skill set everyone who has a boss needs to learn.