Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My Boss is an Idiot

Working hard and being extremely competent in what you do is not the key to getting a promotion. Not when you have an idiot and a fool as a boss, supervisor or manager. All of us may at one time or other work with bosses who belong to that “no-brain,no-skill” category, and our favorite happy-hour conversations always center upon how these bosses got to that position ofpower in the first place. It is anybody's guess, from the boot-licker theory to the sleeping-with-the-right-person theory. Whatever it may be, we can't sack our bosses. All is not lost though, because we can do certain things to turn the situation to our advantage.

Story: The Ass in the Lion's Skin

[Illus by Milo Winter]

An Ass found a Lion's skin left in the forest by a hunter. He dressed himself in it, and amused himself by hiding in a thicket and rushing out suddenly at the animals who passed that way. All took to their heels the moment they saw him. The Ass was so pleased to see the animals running away from him, just as if he were King Lion himself, that he could not keep from expressing his delight by a loud, harsh bray.

A Fox, who ran with the rest, stopped short as soon as he heard the voice. Approaching the Ass, he said with a laugh: "If you had kept your mouth shut you might have frightened me, too. But you gave yourself away with that silly bray."

Moral: Fine clothes may disguise, but silly words will disclose a fool. A fool may deceive by his dress and appearance, but his words will soon show what he really is. No disguise will hide one's true character.

Lessons in life: Does your boss look like a Lion but is actually an Ass? It is easyto recognize a fool. This person boasts of many years of working experience and has the paper qualifications to prove his worth. However, when he speaks, you begin to wonder if he had been sleeping on his job or had bought his degree through an auction. His knowledge can at best pass off for a first-year trainee and his senseless decisions are often proven wrong. You keep your ears to the ground and true enough, it is an opinion shared by many other colleagues and people of average qualification and training.

One word to describe your boss –“stupid”. How can you possibly work for an idiot boss? The answer lies in what you intend to accomplish at this workplace.

One: be a Hero, challenge every foolish decision and expose the stupidity. Good luck to you. You are one step away from the exit door.

Two: be a Survivor like those you see on the reality TV show. Learn the Outwit, Ouplay and Outlast strategy.

Stick to your career planand don't let anybody stand in your way. The first type of personality, a hero exposing villains, leads to career suicide. Even if you manage to successfully topple one employer, subsequent employers would think twice about employing you for fear that you might do the same to them. Better to be a Survivor. Here are some points to think about when working for idiots: -Give boss the benefit of doubt.

Under old management styles, employees are promoted based on seniority. The longer you are on the job, the higher you climb. Even if the person is aware of his limitations, he cannot help but move up the ranks. The alternative is to remain behind while peers and cohorts surge ahead. Perhaps the boss was one such pathetic soul, caught in the tide, and his position of power wasn't something he asked for and yet was something nobody in the right mind would refuse.

Respect the position and not the person

From a psychological angle, it is easier to accept that we are taking instructions from the Head Office even though the CEO sitting in that office was the one issuing them. Think about it -“The management wants this to be done” versus “Mr X wants this to be done.” When a name is behind the order, it gets personal and we start to attach to it our feelings and emotions. We are unlikely to do a good job knowing that we are helping a person we do not respect. However, if we consider ourselves doing the task for the company which has been paying us the salary, we are more likely to obey and perform to the best of our ability. It sounds subtle but in our opinion, it does help to cast aside the ill feelings when getting a job done.

Do not be a threat

Out do or out smart others, but not the boss. Humans and animals are alike; when they sense a threat, they put up all their defenses and prepare to spring counter-attacks at the appropriate moments. At meetings or in the public, avoid posing difficult questions which you know the boss will not be able to answer. Do not challenge his views openly and make him look silly. Be modest about yourself. If word gets to the boss or if he senses that you are more suited to sit in his chair, he may stifle your promotion. Such bosses always feel insecure. Put all your intellect into producing outstanding work, but in the presence of your boss, let him think that you are not as clever as he is.

We mentioned about being modest, but that was about not letting your boss or colleagues know exactly how clever or smart you are. When it comes to achievements, be explicit, put your name on every assignment or project. A boss who is not smart and not sharp cannot read between the lines or take hints. Unless you tell him what you have done, he may not realize the extent of your contributions to the organization. It is always good to remind the boss of the deals you have closed, the profits you have added to the bottom line, the projects that are successfully completed. When you rope in new clients, be sure to introduce them to your boss. The clients feel a sense of importance and the boss remembers it better than a mere memo informing him about the new accounts. When you receive praises and commendation letters pertaining to your service, arrange for them to be circulated or copied to your boss. In short, be visible and get noticed.

Help boss meet goals

One key task is to erode the boss's power over you. The best way to do that is understand the boss's plans and help him meet his goals. That's right, help him, not impede him. By doing that, you gain his trust and confidence. In getting higher profile jobs and major projects, you take away his dominant control over you. He can do less harm knowing that your role is crucial in enhancing his career.

Be patient

The more foolish the boss is, the more indispensable you would be. The company needs you to get the job done and if you play your cards right, the boss will want to keep you by his side.He is only the front, you are the doer. Knowing that will motivate you if you have sufficient patience. In a crisis situation, the boss will have to come to you for help, and thatis when you can expect better rewards and enjoy a better bargaining position. Be patient, learn as much as you can, excel in your field of work and the day will come when you are invaluable to the company.

Live and let live

No matter how good we are, there are others who are better. The old wisdom applies - “Don't do unto others what you don't want others to do unto you.” There is a tendency to let everyone in the office know how you feel about your boss and do things to spite him or make him look bad. Think how it would be like should a brighter person come along and feel the same way about you. A lot of relationship problems can be resolved just by putting yourself in the shoes of the other party. If you simply cannot resist throwing an insult, quote other people instead

e.g., Jamie Lee Curtis: “To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people. I've known sheep that could outwit you. I've worn dresses with higher IQs. But you think you're an intellectual, don't you, ape?”


Leslie Teo said...

good advice. :-) so means you have to kiss ass and say nice things & be a super hero.. ro ro ro...

ls said...

My philosophy is simple: change your boss. The longer you work with a stupid boss or colleague, the easier you will be dumb.

F..k them off and move on.


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