By Deborah Rothberg  |  Posted 2006-08-11 Print this article Print

Beyond and within the mean, the inexperienced and the reluctant bosses, there are endless shades of supervisors who cause nothing but headaches. Some are a blend of the three, and some have specific vices that are like the icing on the bad management cake. Disempowered bosses are stuck in middle management hell; theyre higher on the ladder than those that they supervise but lower than the people who actually hold the strings. Working for a disempowered boss can be the ultimate in frustration for someone with bright ideas.
"Middle managers often want to get things done but have to get approvals, sometimes from a whole committee, like an editor who approves an article but doesnt have the power to put it into print. There are a series of negotiations. A person working under that editor might have good ideas, but theyre stymied," said Scott.
Dumbfounded bosses are more conniving; they will manipulate truthful information to ensure that they always come out looking good, Haight said. "Their motto is, But the figures say were doing fine!" The beta might be going terribly, Haight said, but these managers will never kick that information upstairs for fear they might be blamed. "But were on schedule," theyll say, making it impossible to give them bad news. Cope or Quit Haight breaks down the options available to victims of bad bosses fairly succinctly. "You only have three choices: Stay and cope, transfer to another department if you are in a large organization, or resign," she said. Haight recommends that workers tune in early for signs of irreparably bad management. "Be prepared to resign within three months of encountering bad boss behavior," so that if things dont get better, you have options. She warns that its a cop-out to think of a bad boss or manager as stupid. "A bad boss isnt a dummy; theyre smart enough to get away with what theyre doing." In some organizations, if there are enough people who are willing to speak out, employees may come together and bring their concerns to the next level. "When these strategies dont work, take it to the next level. If there are a group of people complaining, you can try to go to the boss boss," said Scott. But, this approach can backfire. If the next rung on the ladder doesnt want to hear bad news, doesnt want to manage their supervisees, is too busy to deal with the situation, or simply demands that the bad boss handle things, employees can be in for even more turmoil, from vindictive behavior or worsened tensions, Scott said. When all else fails, it may be time to simply fold your cards and dust off that resume. "If everything isnt working and the job is making you crazy, and he/she isnt listening, and theyre not going to replace the boss, you should leave. But, you still want to leave on as good terms as possible so that you can get good recommendations," said Scott. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on IT management.


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