How To Manage An Incompetent Manager

Everyone complains about their manager from time to time. What is important is to separate out the occasional gripe or whinge from something far more serious where real issues of incompetence are to be found.

Ineptitude in managers is very common. Staff become managers because they make sales, get results, have technical expertise, they may know the right people BUT they simply do not have the required soft skills that are so important in making a success of a management position. Whatever the reason poor managers drive down motivation and produce poor outcomes.

What can you do?

Understand where the incompetence sits
Before you declare your manager useless, check your bias and try to get a balanced  understanding of what you are seeing. Look at your own weaknesses and insecurities first to make sure that you are being fair and measured in reaching the viewpoint that you have.

Do I have all of the relevant information?

Collect the evidence that shows incompetence but also bear in mind that you will not be seeing the pressure and stress that your manager will be experiencing! Good managers will shield their staff from these pressures and hence will not show what issues they have in simply carrying out their role. Managers are human at whatever level they are operating at!

Get some advice.

Ask other people, carefully and with sensitivity, for their opinions just to make sure that it is not just you who are having doubts about the situation.

Manage upwards.

Focus upon filling in the gaps that are being left by your manager – you still have your job to do and customers still need to be satisfied. This is not about covering up gaping holes in performance BUT you must act in the best way for the benefit of the organisation and for the wider good of the team.

Take care of yourself.
This is a stressful situation so you need to make sure that your health does not suffer and that you find and focus on what makes you happy about your job. If you are going to make a formal complaint make sure that you fully understand how this will work and what the possible repercussions will be.

In all of this try to have empathy for your manager and the pressures they may be under and focus on the broader aspects of ensuring the success of the wider organisation. If your coping strategies are not working, and there seems to be no action being taken by senior management, it might be time to leave.

Good Luck!

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