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What to Do When: Your Manager Is an Idiot and Her Boss Doesn't Care

Suzanne Lucas

Have you ever had a really rotten boss?  

One who yells, belittles people, creates unfair schedules, and is generally incompetent?

Any one of those things stink, but sometimes you get stuck with all of them at once.

Why on earth doesn't her boss step in and handle this mess?

Seriously, your boss either needs training or firing, and it's blazingly obvious, so why isn't that happening?

There are actually reasons for this, some bad and some good.

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Here are a few of them.

Your Boss Is Actually Doing What Her Boss Wants

This often happens when you get a new boss. The old one is out, and a new one comes in and implements a reign of terror.

Suddenly people are getting written up for things that used to be considered okay. It's super frustrating to have the rules change in the middle, but it's highly possible that the reason her boss hired her was to whip you guys into shape. 

Additionally, some other things that you find horrible, like unpredictable schedules may actually be a directive from the corporate office.

While it's horrible for you, it's not your boss's fault. She may hate the scheduling or the unpopular policy as much as you do, but it's her job to enforce it, and so she's just doing that.

You're Actually the Problem

This one is a little painful to think about, but it could be that the reason your boss is always picking on you is because you're a slacker or a whiner, or you truly are always late.

Before you think your boss is an idiot, stop and think about what your behavior and performance is like. You may be the one in need of improvement, and your boss may be pushing you toward that improvement.

Your Boss Is Busy Doing Things You Don't Understand

You may see your boss as a no-show who you can never find, but she may well be in meetings or working on projects that you don't know about.

She may be trusting you to do your work because she's really, really busy doing her work. Don't assume that because you don't see your boss that she's not working.

Your Boss Was Never Trained Properly

Most companies really stink when it comes to management training. Some people are born leaders and popping into a manager role is as easy as breathing.

But for most people, management skills have to be learned, and most companies don't do a great job teaching these skills.

Most managers, especially first level supervisors, are learning as they go, and they will naturally make mistakes as they go. Your boss's boss may well be coaching and training your boss, but building those skills take a lot of time to learn.

Or your boss's boss may not have great managing skills either, so it's the incompetent leading the incompetent. Sorry.

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Your Boss Really Is a Jerk, but So Is Her Boss

People like to hire people who are like themselves. So, if your boss is rude and demanding, it may be that her boss feels that's the best way to manage.

That's false. Rudeness is always inappropriate, but plenty of people think that way. They think that it shows strength and power.

Your boss may be a jerk, and her boss allows it because her boss is a jerk as well. The big problem with this is that there is no one to complain to and no one to fix the problem.

If this is the case, you need to evaluate if this job is really worth it. It might well be, but it's also possible that you'd be better off in another job. Start looking and when you find one, quit.

Your Boss' Boss Is Super Busy

Depending on the size of the organization, your boss' boss may have so much on her plate that she's not concerned at all about your small department.

As long as your department is hitting its numbers, she couldn't care less about how your boss is achieving those numbers.

If your sales numbers are good, it doesn't matter if your manager is writing people up right and left. Now, of course, your departmental numbers would be better with better management, but as long as it's good enough, no one is looking.

The Whole Company Is a Mess

Unfortunately, this happens, and often in family owned businesses. Senior leadership may have great marketing ideas, or have invented a cool product, but they don't know squat about managing people and building a company.

Your boss is the president's niece because she's family, not because she's well suited for the job. Problems get ignored because no one knows how to deal with it.

Your boss won't ever be fired because she's a relative, If the CEO isn't comfortable coaching and correcting, your boss won't be either.

Basically, it's hard to fix an organization that is a complete disaster.

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Suzanne Lucas Member
Suzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate HR where she hired, fired, managed the numbers and double-checked with the lawyers. She now writes about how to make your business a success and your employees happy. Send her an email at