Office Coach: Learn to live with unskilled manager

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Question: I was recently assigned to a manager who has a reputation for being a poor leader. "Gary" is not very knowledgeable and comes across as insecure. A few weeks ago, he called me into his office and critiqued my work down to the last microscopic detail. This was highly insulting, because I have a lot of experience and do my job well.

Ever since this meeting, I have found myself openly expressing my unhappiness with Gary to anyone who will listen. I just can't seem to stop myself.

An even bigger problem is that I began sharing my frustrations with Gary's boss. When I transferred into this department, he actually warned me about Gary's shortcomings and said I would need to "manage my manager."

I am not a negative person, but lately I seem to be acting like one. I don't know what to do about it. How can I get past my feelings about Gary?

Answer: You can start by lowering your expectations. There are many poor managers in the world, and it's simply your turn to have one. Employees often harbor an irrational belief that their boss should be perfect, but managers have strengths and weaknesses just like everyone else.

If you can accept the unhappy fact that Gary will never be the boss of your dreams, you may find it easier to control your frustration and concentrate on making this relationship work. Although Gary may be inept and annoying, at least he's not abusive or unscrupulous.

By advising you to focus on "managing up," Gary's boss has not only provided wise counsel, but also indicated that he is assigning you some responsibility in this situation. If you continue complaining, he will eventually tire of your unhappiness and begin to view you as a whiner.

The ability to handle a challenging manager is a clear sign of professional maturity. While you will never make Gary a better boss, you can always strive to make yourself a better employee.


Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach. Visit


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