A Doer’s worse nightmare is reporting to an incompetent boss. They dread reporting to someone who lacks the skill, ability, and motivation to do the right things, the right way, for the right reason.
Such bosses walk around in a fog unaware of the negative impact they are having on those who report to them. They may not be willfully stupid nor do they screw up intentionally, but they continue to make poor decisions every day. They often micro-manage to cover up their incompetency.
As tempting as it is to ignore such a person, consider instead that he is just someone who at various times simply does not know what he is expected to do; or if he does know, he does not know how to do it right; or if he does know how to do it right, he sees no particular benefit in doing it that way.
Remember, you are dealing with someone who at various times for his own reasons has a set of expectations that are different from yours. Perhaps he does know what you expect, but does not know how to provide it in a way that is helpful to you.
Or, if he does know how to provide what you need, he does not know why he should because he sees no particular benefit in changing what is working for him.
If this ever happens to you, respond by arming yourself with a better understanding of what causes someone in a senior role to become ineffective. That way you will know what skills he is missing and which ones you will need to bring to the relationship in order to make it work.
Think in current terms each time you interact with a difficult leader. To prevent past behaviors from clouding your future, keep this thought in mind: “That was then, this is now.” It is possible he may be just as tired of this antagonistic relationship as you are and could be receptive to your concerns and open to meeting your needs.
If his attitude is the same, you have lost nothing. But, if he is ready for a change and you assume otherwise, you will have missed out on a teachable moment. You do not want to pass up such a precious opportunity to help him learn a valuable lesson that could improve your relationship.
If you like your job and are happy with your workplace, then you have three viable options to consider:
- Grin and bear it, look the other way, and just put up with the situation in the hope that the incompetent may be found out and fired.
- Make a serious effort to try to change his or her behavior. Go over his or her head perhaps or lodge a complaint with the human resource department.
- Change the way you deal with your incompetent boss, which affords you the luxury of experimenting with a variety of methods and doing so at your own pace.
After thoughtful reflection and ample experimentation, you may decide that the situation is hopeless and there is nothing more you can do. Now is a good time to consider changing jobs or transferring to another department.