Managing a boss who can’t manage others

Too often I hear the woes of others who have the misfortune of working with a manager who can’t … well, manage. In some situations it may feel like you’re in a toxic relationship.

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1. Know your strengths

When someone micro manages, or under manages, it can feel like you are the problem. As people we often treat our work as a reflection of ourselves. If your work is poor, then so are you. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. For example, if you know you’re a clear and concise writer, that may be your style. Just because someone does something differently or provides feedback doesn’t mean that it’s “wrong”. Reminding yourself that you’re here to do a job and communicate something can help you not take it too personal. But hey, we’re humans and sometimes our ego gets in the way.

2. Establish a tight support group

Whether you’re balancing multiple projects or working on one, the support you receive is crucial in getting it done. Your manager may not be a great listener, even if they think they are. Depending on your position, you may feel comfortable seeking out a support group or a confidante. This could be co-workers, friends, family, whoever. But it has to be people you trust. You should be able to speak freely about what’s going on, without fear of judgement or repercussions. However, you want to ensure boundaries are set so you’re not just complaining. The best support groups work as a two way street. You should also be ready to listen to them and support them when needed.

3. Speak up, but don’t sound like a broken record

Communication is key. I cannot stress this enough. You should be open to constructive criticism but if it ever surpasses that point and you feel like you’re constantly in defense mode, learn to pick and choose your battles. Sometimes the frustration of explaining something over and over, can exacerbate a situation that probably isn’t worth your time in the first place. If you find yourself overthinking it and you feel the urge to speak up, do so. But hold off until you can collect all of your thoughts, to clearly (and professionally) explain what you need to. It may feel like you’re doing yourself a disservice by not speaking up at all. Exercise that first amendment, baby!

4. Time management

Let me start off by saying everyone should either own a planner or have access to a digital one. A planner allows you to dedicate a set amount of time to specific projects. Working on one project all day can be a total ball buster sometimes, but if you break it up it is that much more manageable and you can get other projects done.

5. Work-life balance

Your personal life is more important. Sometimes we have to start the day a bit earlier, or work through lunch, or stay online a little longer, or all three! Whatever time you decide to log off for the day, stick to it. It can be hard to ignore work emails popping up on your phone or your personal laptop, or worse, Slack notifications, at all times of the day. I know I’m guilty it. Change your device preferences to “do not disturb” between your chosen hours. Most of our jobs already get 8–9 hours of us, don’t let them get the rest of your time too.

always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper.

Have additional tips for managing a boss who can’t manage others? Leave a comment — chances are we all need a few more!

I’m a creative storyteller passionate about social justice. If you are too, follow me here: | Editor at The Rosie Report