20
Aug
10

my boss is an idiot

Reader D. G. writes:

My boss is a complete idiot. My company designs websites. My boss doesn’t understand the concept of the web at all, let alone coding or design. He keeps promising things to clients that can’t actually be done in our office, with our resources (especially staff, i.e. me). He doesn’t understand that you can’t just change the design entirely if you decide you don’t like some element. He doesn’t get how servers work and he doesn’t understand privacy laws. Basically, he is completely ill equipped to run a web company, and if it weren’t for the few other folks who work in the office, the company would deteriorate into nothingness, which it probably should, anyway. How do I deal with my boss’s complete lack of intelligence?

Dear D. G.:

bad boss

A bad boss can make you feel small. Image: graur codrin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It sucks to be in a working position beneath someone who doesn’t actually deserve their higher position. Of course, you’ll probably never really know how he got there in the first place. If he owns the company you work for, you can probably guess — he couldn’t hack a job in the real world with real other people, and now he’s running the show of his own company because he’s actually an ego maniac. Sometimes ego maniacs lead great companies. Other times, they fail miserably because of their inability to see their failures.

I have worked for emotionally bankrupt people, people with anger management issues, incompetent people with complexes about their intelligence, narcissists, micromanagers, and bullies. So I completely understand how you feel.

Sadly, there’s not much you can do about a boss who’s an idiot beyond leaving the company for better climes, especially if he owns the business. You’re never going to be able to put him in his place (and even if you did, you probably wouldn’t last long within the company thereafter). There’s probably not anyone above you that you could complain to about him, either.

I’d say get your resume in order and start putting out feelers for a new position. It may take time, but that’s just fine. Don’t do anything rash like quitting without a new job lined up. Remember that a job with a crappy boss may not be as bad as no job at all.

And there are other ways you can deal with his idiocy while you’re looking for a new job.

For instance, having bitch sessions with your coworkers and colleagues might be helpful to relieve some of the stress. If your boss truly is an idiot, your coworkers probably think so, too. You have to be careful about this, however, because office politics are funny things. Don’t ever just cough up a criticism of your superiors with people you’re not sure feel the same way. Gossip can run rampant, but more importantly, if someone doesn’t agree with you, it can cause stress between you and that colleague. You may just want to bitch to your friends who work elsewhere. Sure, your colleagues may be able to chime in with their own stories of your boss’s antics, but your friends won’t go talking to your boss about your feelings behind your back. Better safe than sorry.

You could also start an anonymous blog keeping track of the idiotic things your boss says and does. Don’t ever use real names (not yours, not the company’s, not your boss’s, not anyone’s), and you should probably consider making it private and only inviting good friends and family members to read it.

I have also written stories for myself about the things I would say to my bad bosses, given the chance, or about them failing at life in general. For instance, I once had a particularly stupid boss and I decided to write a story about nobody coming to her wedding. In the story, she didn’t understand that nobody in the world liked her. It made me feel better to laugh at her in this way. I didn’t share the story with anyone else, but it felt good to get it down on paper.

Or you could enter a contest for bad bosses, like this one here. You may be vindicated by having your boss voted “worst in the world”. But even if you don’t win, reading the stories about other bad bosses will probably make you feel better about yours, too. You may find that your boss’s incompetence pales in comparison to some of the really terrible bosses out there.

Finally, I think you should find a way to focus on what’s good about your workplace. There has to be something. Are you allowed to wear whatever you want to work? Is the environment laid back? Do you get free lunches from time to time? Can you set your own work schedule? Is it easy to ask for time off? Are there pets around? Are your coworkers particularly funny? I’m sure there are tiny things at your job that can make you feel better, especially if you compare your situation to others’.

It is depressing that there are loads of incompetent, emotionally deficient, anti-social people in positions of power in the world. That is, unfortunately, not going to change any time soon. But you can at least feel less stressed out by it by resting in the knowledge that you’re not alone, and you will someday move on to a better job, or the company itself will disappear, leaving you with unemployment checks ’til you find a new spot to work in, hopefully with an intelligent, capable boss.

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