My new boss is an idiot


Dear Evil HR Lady,

I have been working at my company for a year. They hired my new boss in February 2013. (I did not apply for the role, so it is not a jealousy issue.)

She is incompetent, emotive and unprofessional, and tries to interact with me on a personal level. She makes decisions without asking first, and this has a negative impact on the division, as she does not know what protocols are or what has been done in the past.

She takes others' ideas and acts like they are hers. She lied on her resume to get this position. My colleague, whom I trust, told me she feels threatened by me because I know more than her.

She always puts me down. Even the general manager is realizing now what type of person she is, but he doesn't do anything -- at least, I don't think so.

Let's start with your last statement first. You don't know whether the general manager is doing anything to address your boss's behavior. Most good managers won't say to people, "Hey, your boss is incompetent, so I'm working to correct that!" This will all take place behind closed doors. There will be signs -- hopefully, of improvement! -- but otherwise, you won't know what actions your GM has taken until the problem is fixed or she's fired. It's unlikely your boss tell you, or your colleagues, that the GM is mentoring her.

So don't presume the higher-ups are ignoring this. They have a vested interest in correcting her faults rather than firing her. Managers hate to admit that they made hiring mistakes and often don't fire fast enough. Still, there is something to be gained by allowing an employee to redeem herself.

Now if your colleague is right and she is threatened by you, you can work to fix that. Have you tried to establish a professional relationship with her? Have you asked her for input on a project? Have you asked her to help you find a solution? Oftentimes, when you've formed an opinion about someone, as in this case, you behave in ways that reinforce your current perception. For instance, you say she's incompetent, so you withhold information from her about a project, which keeps her ill informed and therefore justifies your opinion of her as incompetent. The solution: Stop withholding information.

Now if she is truly is jealous, this may not work. But, if she's just insecure, then showing you trust in her may well help her be a better manager.

Additionally, don't be so quick to say she presents others' ideas as her own. If these are the ideas of her direct reports, her behavior is somewhat normal. Should managers give credit to their staff? Absolutely. Do they always? No. They go to meetings and they use the words "I," "me," "my," and "mine" even though they should acknowledge their team members. However, rest assured that when a manager does this, her peers and superiors know that she's really referring to the whole team. In other words, this falls into the minor annoyances category of life. Sure, it's great to get credit, but this behavior isn't necessarily mean and vindictive.

She's been with the company only for a couple of months. While it's painful for those she manages, there would be a learning curve for anyone else hired for the position. No one new on the job can possibly know all the right questions to ask, nor can they expect to proceed without stumbling.

My advice to you is that you should try to be nice. Be supportive. Set boundaries on your personal life. Then wait and see what happens. See if she improves. See if the GM attempts to fix things. If nothing comes of your waiting and watching and you still find it difficult to work with her, then it's time to start looking for a new job. But don't walk out the door in a huff. Give it time. Freshen up your resume but don't panic. She may look like a different person in six months.

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