In a survey carried out in the U.K. last year, 44% of respondents thought they could do a better job than their boss.
Can they all be right or are there generally other factors at play that contribute to feelings of dissatisfaction with leadership?
Ines Kretschmer sets out 5 questions to ask yourself before deciding if you really could do a better job than your boss.
“Can you please advise how you should handle it when you believe your manager is terrible at her job? The team and I who report into her all agree that she is winging it, and that she has gotten to her position solely by virtue of the fact that she has been with the company for ten years. I actually cringe whenever I have to accompany her to meet clients as her lack of knowledge is clear for them to see.
It is so demotivating for the rest of the team and I to have to report into someone who has no discernible leadership skills. To be honest, most of us feel we could do a better job than her if we were in her position. What’s the best way to manage this?”
Thank you very much for your email.
Let me break down the information you have given me into two parts – a) the situation as you describe it and b) the question how to best manage this situation.
Let us start with the situation. You describe your manager as not only lacking the necessary expertise and competence concerning the job, but also as a person with little or no leadership skills. As you say the whole team agrees with you on this, it is likely you have a point – or another possibility is, that a certain dynamic has developed over time to view your manager that way.
Based on the information I have, I cannot judge the company culture or the real reason she was promoted to the position she now holds, and neither can I judge her competence or skills.
However, for you to best manage the situation, I think as a first step it would be helpful to analyze it for yourself a bit more and to base your analysis on the facts at hand. Here are a few helpful questions to ask:
- What exactly is it she does or does not know?
- What are the situations she does not manage well? Are there actually situations she does manage well?
- Where does her lack of leadership skills show?
- What is positive about her, or her management style?
- Does she have the necessary support?
These are only examples but questions like this are helpful for at least two reasons:
1.It will make clearer to you, if it is really her that is the issue for you (as opposed to the company culture, general management practices, lack of vision and strategy, etc) or if frustration or demotivation are actually caused elsewhere and only seem to be caused by her.
2.By finding out for yourself first whether it is really her or for another reason that you are unhappy with the situation, this little analysis is already the beginning of finding the right approach for yourself to make the necessary changes.
Are you frustrated because you feel that, with your knowledge and experience, it is you who should be in her position? Or is it that you are happy in your position, but you would be much more motivated if you could report into someone with better knowledge and skills?
Coming back to the question, how to best manage the situation: whatever your findings are based on the above – your strategy will very strongly depend on what it is you want to achieve.
Say she really does lack the competence and leadership skills – in what way does it affect you? Ask yourself honestly what the main pain points are, how you can address them and what your actual goal is.
For example – are you frustrated because you feel that, with your knowledge and experience, it is you who should be in her position? Or is it that you are happy in your position, but you would be much more motivated if you could report into someone with better knowledge and skills and who would understand and appreciate your work more?
This is only one example, but of course the strategy on how to manage the situation would be an entirely different one depending on your answer. Simplified: if you would like to be in her position, your strategy would be to put yourself forward, prove yourself and look for promotion (perhaps in another department or company if it’s not possible where you are). But if you are happy on your level, but would like to report into someone else, you should look for opportunities within the company or support somebody else’s promotion.
Whatever action you take – you need to be clear on what the real issue is, what you want to change and achieve for yourself and what the consequences could be of whatever action you take.
And if you have asked yourself these questions and found it was not actually her but another underlying issue, then you would have to look for appropriate ways to address these particular or general issues.
You probably will not change her or her management style, but you can try to support her and / or address your concerns in an appropriate way. You can of course escalate the issue to the next level if you think it is helpful. But whatever action you take – you need to be clear on what the real issue is, what you want to change and achieve for yourself and what the consequences could be of whatever action you take.
I know this is not ultimate advice, but as a coach I can only develop an approach together with the client and based on the specific situation and goal. I hope that my reply will be helpful for you to develop your own goal and strategy based on the questions you have raised for yourself and on the answers you have found to define your way forward.
Best of Luck!
About Ines Kretschmer:
Ines Kretschmer is a Personal, Leadership and Executive Coach, based in Dublin.
Tel: 087 4149489
If you have a career issue you would like help with email the details to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will source a suitable professional to help. All correspondence will be kept confidential.