It can be tough to work for a boss you don’t like, but even tougher to work under one you don’t respect.
Unfortunately, it’s all too common for employees to feel their boss is inept. “By and large, this happens more often than not,” says Nicole Williams, the official career expert of LinkedIn. “You have a number of people who have sh–ty bosses, and you have a number of people who believe their bosses are less skilled than they are.”
When deciding how to deal with an incompetent boss, Williams says it’s important to consider how much your boss’s failings are affecting you. Based on that, she says you may want to take one of the steps below.
1. Talk to your boss and offer additional help where they are weakest.
Your first step in dealing with an ineffective boss, Williams advises, should be to approach the problem sympathetically. Think about your boss’s weaknesses, and tactfully offer him or her extra help in those areas. If this solution is effective, Williams says the boss could end up being a boon for your career. “If you want to be a leader and you don’t complain, you get this great opportunity from it to step up,” she explains.
2. Draw clear lines between your workload and your boss’s.
If your boss’s failings begin to affect your career and professional reputation, Williams says it’s time to reconsider your strategy. That still doesn’t mean you should complain. But if someone else from management asks you why a project wasn’t completed on time, you shouldn’t shoulder the blame for your incompetent boss.
“With your boss’s superior, you can appropriately say, ‘This was my understanding of my responsibility in this project. This was my understanding of my boss’s role. Am I wrong?'” Williams suggests. Doing so will allow the superior, who has probably dealt with the problem before, to fill in the blanks on what happened.
3. Find a new job, with a better boss.
If neither of the previous tactics work, Williams says you should think seriously about finding a new job. The fact of the matter is that some incompetent bosses just aren’t going anywhere. People tend to employ people they know well, so will often be reluctant to burn bridges with a longtime colleague. You shouldn’t risk letting a bad boss harm your career.
“Choosing your boss and having a good boss is one of the most important things you can do in your career,” Williams says. “A great boss is actually a great way to find the right path and map for your career. A sh–ty boss, conversely, can really stifle your career development.”
What are your most pressing workplace challenges or concerns? What questions do you have on how to get ahead in your career today? Email the Business Insider Careers team at [email protected], and we’ll find the answers.
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