What to Do If Your Boss Is Incompetent
by Bob Weinstein
Monster Contributing Writer

If it's any consolation, you're not alone if you're saddled with an incompetent boss.

Thousands of unqualified bosses somehow manage to hold onto their jobs. There are even inept CEOs who couldn't run a broom closet, let alone multimillion-dollar corporations.

How Do You Know If Your Boss Is Incompetent?

Don't berate yourself for not realizing your boss was a hopeless nincompoop before you took the job. How could you know what the future would hold back at the interview when you were totally focused on making a great impression? And your boss probably didn't have any opportunities to demonstrate incompetence while being on his best behavior.

But now that you've settled into your job, the signs of incompetence can be likened to headlights on a pitch-black night. They're unavoidable.

Common clues include:

Take Advantage

Your situation looks far worse than it is. Don't be so quick to take the first new job you can find just to get away from your boss. Learning to adjust could be a career-enhancing experience. Incredible as it seems, your boss's ineptitude could be a blessing.

For example, you have the chance to stand out by becoming an asset to your boss. The more you do and accomplish, the better it looks on your resume. It also scores points with management and potential employers.

Try these strategies for turning unfortunate circumstances into an advantage:

Cover in a Crisis

If your boss is away on a business trip or vacation and an issue requiring instant decision-making arises, you have two choices: either turn the problem over to a senior manager or make the decision yourself. Calling in senior managers makes your boss look bad. If you're confident you can take over, you'd be wise to make the decision.

Remember: Heroes are born in crisis situations.

Compensate for Deficiencies

It's to your advantage to discover your boss's weak spots and help him in those areas. You want to be part of a winning team, and your boss is this team's captain. You will get much further in a company if you can be associated with successful projects. For example, an incompetent boss will struggle with complex ventures. Guide him through it until everything is completed. You'll look good by making your team look good.


Watch what you say about your boss. It's very easy to complain and vent frustrations about your less-than-qualified boss to coworkers. Without realizing it, you could be talking to the boss's good friend or someone who wants to score points with him. Keep your opinions to yourself.

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The purpose of this article is to both provide information and facilitate general dialogue about various employment-related topics. No legal advice is being given and no attorney-client relationship created. Please see the disclaimer for further limitations and conditions.