Career Advice

How To Deal With An Incompetent Boss

Work can be hard enough without trying to figure out how to deal with an incompetent boss, but the reality is that during your career, you are more than likely going to come across these individuals from time to time. Dealing with them will be easier if you understand how to recognize incompetency and learn how to handle yourself around it.

It’s not always easy to spot an incompetent boss.

You’re often settled into your new job before you realize anything is wrong. This is because managers are on their best behavior during the interview and training process.

How do you know if you just have the typical complaints we all have about our supervisors or if there is a serious problem? That’s easy. There are specific clues you can look for.

They Can’t Make Decisions

A good boss makes decisions instantly, in order to maintain productivity and keep the team on track. If your boss is incompetent, they’ll take forever to make important decisions or completely avoid them.

They Make Bad Choices

An incompetent manager will consistently make poor decisions. They often don’t have a plan to back up these decisions.

They Rely on Their Subordinates to Get Things Done

Incompetent managers don’t have a clue when it comes to doing their job. They rely on their workers to cover for their inabilities.

They Keep Their Jobs, Even Though They are Failing

There are a lot of incompetent bosses out there that manage to hold onto their position, even though they are failing. How they manage this is a mystery. In most cases, they are relying on their workers to step up and get them through the rough spots, which can create a toxic work environment.

Signs of an Incompetent Boss

What makes a manager incompetent? An effective boss does more than simply supervise workers. They assume responsibility for each individual’s success and make sure the entire team achieves their goals.

Successful companies give their managers the tools and information they need to understand their team’s style and capabilities. This allows their managers to efficiently supervise their workers. The following are eight signs of an incompetent boss.

1. Bad Communication Skills

Bosses with poor communication skills don’t understand how important communication is. They are really good at talking, but they never listen.

When their workers speak, they tend to interrupt. Even if they don’t interrupt, they’re too busy thinking about what to say next to ever know what the other person said.

Bosses with poor communication skills discourage their workers from elaborating on their ideas by using poor body language. They never give others their undivided attention, and they don’t make eye contact.

During any conversation, the job of the listener is to get all of the information the other person is giving. This provides them with the information needed to make wise decisions.

2. Weak Leadership Abilities

A weak boss is afraid of hurting an employee’s feelings. They find it hard to speak the truth to those who need to hear it. They also don’t like to give direction to those who never want to do their job.

No one likes to be told what to do, but that’s what it takes for any organization to be successful. Good bosses set a good example by telling it like it is.

3. Unable to Instill Trust

An incompetent boss won’t respect what others say in confidence and often break their promises. They don’t immediately respond when asked difficult questions, and when things go wrong, they blame others. Their lack of integrity is proven by their inconsistent words and actions.

4. Don’t Clarify Each Worker’s Responsibilities

How can anyone do a good job if they aren’t sure what their responsibilities are? Incompetent bosses neglect to clearly tell each team member what they need to do to accomplish the objective.

5. Don’t Distribute Responsibility

Incompetent bosses don’t distribute the responsibilities enough to adequately cover all bases. They don’t do anything to make sure workers’ efforts aren’t duplicated. This is because they are ignorant when it comes to the team members’ workloads, or they just don’t care.

6. Failure to Translate the Company’s Vision

These bosses don’t understand the importance of translating the company’s goals into today’s activities. It’s hard to reach a goal if team members don’t know what the objective is or how to get there.

7. Don’t Delegate

An incompetent boss is often afraid to give up control for fear of being shown up. They may want to keep others down rather than help them build themselves up.

If they do delegate, they don’t take into consideration their worker’s interests, capabilities, or developmental needs. Others micromanage. They hover over their employees, which stops creativity and decreases motivation.

8. Unwilling to Adapt and Change

Change is always difficult, but effective bosses can handle it. They know how to adjust.

They’re open to new things and remain calm and comfortable. They are clear-headed and manage everyone’s expectations to enable change.

Read More: Why Bad Managers Don’t Get Fired: 7 Reasons No One Told You  

How Do You Work with an Incompetent Boss?

You can reduce the negative effect an incompetent boss has on your work by knowing how to deal with them. If your boss is incompetent, try the following.

Evaluate Your Opinion

Before you can do anything, you need to make sure your boss is incompetent. It’s easy to react negatively to a boss that is disagreeable, but are they truly incompetent?

Take a close look at their job description. How does their performance compare to it? This helps you see any gaps between what their job is and what they’re really doing.

Along with their specific responsibilities, a boss should be acting as a manager or supervisor. They’re responsible for discipline, deadlines, and delegation. If you see that they are underperforming in any of these areas, they may well be incompetent.

Ask your co-worker’s opinions on the matter. Be careful not to undermine your boss when doing this.

Help Them

If your boss is generally a nice person and seems to be trying to do their job correctly, they can still be incompetent. If this is the case, try helping them out. It may be that they are unqualified for a management position and just need a little assistance.

Be respectful when approaching them. Let them maintain their authority. Try asking how a current project is going, and ask if there’s any way you can help.

Try a Different Approach

If asking if they need help doesn’t go over so well, try a different approach. Quit expecting them to all of a sudden start doing their job. Instead, accept their incompetency and try to handle situations by reaching out to your co-workers directly, rather than going through the boss when you need information to complete a project.

You or another team member could even step up as a soft leader in the group to help things stay organized. If your boss is the type to be disagreeable, try to learn what triggers their anger and avoid those situations.

Talk to Them

If all else fails, try talking to them. Be diplomatic, and let the discussion focus on you rather than them. Instead of pointing out their incompetence, explain to them that you’re having trouble completing assignments in this work environment and ask how to rectify the situation.

This allows you to avoid directly blaming them for problems. It’s their responsibility to keep a positive work environment. Point out the need for them to help achieve this goal.

Think About Reporting Them

When you feel like you have no other option, you can report their behavior to their supervisor. Try to imagine the reaction you’ll receive before doing this. Some companies will be positive in trying to fix the problem, while others may turn it around on you.

My Boss is Lazy and Incompetent

It’s never easy having an inadequate manager, but learning how to deal with an incompetent boss can help. Use these suggestions to help rectify the situation.

If none of these tips seem to have any effect, approach your boss, or even their supervisor. As long as you handle yourself diplomatically, you should be able to create a work environment for yourself where you and your co-workers can contribute equally and achieve your company’s goals.

Read More: 5 Things To Do When Your Boss Makes You Feel Incompetent

About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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