Want to Fire Your Boss?

Ever wish you could fire your boss? If you have received a paycheck and have a pulse, then it’s likely you have had this urge.

Here are a couple of leaders we’d love to fire, along with some tips for their direct reports on how to cope with them – short of firing them:

Edna the Incompetent

She’s in over her head, and you know it. “Edna” is typically someone who was promoted into a role with increased scope and complexity and increased responsibility to oversee people. Or she may be someone from a different company, function or industry.

First, do whatever you can to help her. Give Edna and the leaders in your organization who assigned her to the role the benefit of the doubt. Most likely she does have what it takes to succeed – eventually.

Managing up in this way can be tricky – especially if you think she feels threatened by you.

Acknowledge her experience and strengths. Let her know you respect her and want her to succeed. Focus on building a mutually trusting and respectful working relationship. Then offer to share info, background or contacts — whatever will be most helpful for her.

Gloria the Glory-Hog

Nobody likes working for someone who takes all the credit. If you’re working for someone like this…

First, give her the credit that she is due. It may be that she is feeling under-appreciated. So offer genuine appreciation and kudos for her credit-worthy accomplishments, traits or actions.

Why should the boss be the only one who recognizes and rewards good performance?

Second, as you build a trusting relationship, suggest ways that you and she might tactfully toot your own horns together about your accomplishments. For example, how about drafting a note to her recognizing your team’s recent achievement that she can then forward, with her intro, to her bosses?

Other options – when managing up well is not enough

When dealing with difficult bosses, it’s best to focus first on improving our skill in managing up. And this takes political savvy.

But sometimes more drastic measures are needed:

  • Request a transfer – You will need to handle this shrewdly. It’s usually wise to talk with your boss early in this process. And get some advice from wise mentors along the way.
  • Going over the boss’s head to complain – This is perhaps the most difficult to pull off; it takes finesse and wisdom. One leader I know banded together with some other disgruntled employees, went to HR and joined forces to get their boss fired. “Don’t try this at home” – unless you’ve tried everything else and really don’t want to quit.
  • Quit – If you’ve tried everything possible to make it better, and you have no hope of a change you can stomach.

Most of us cannot fire our bosses – even if they deserve it. Thankfully we usually have other options.

Joe Baker is a Partner with PeopleResults. You can reach him at jbaker@www.people-results.com or on Twitter @JoeBakerJr.