Doing Both My And My Incompetent Boss’s Job!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a difficult new boss:

Two weeks after being hired, my company fired my boss. I have done the job since then. Two months later, they hired a woman to fill that position, who worked for the same company as the top boss did, so they go back a long way. She is incompetent and makes mistakes that cost the company money on a daily basis. So now not only am I still doing the job of two people, I have to correct her mistakes. I have documented everything and taken it to the top boss, who instead of focusing on the mistakes manipulated the facts back to me. While I was away on a family emergency, she scheduled numerous overtime hours. My boss wanted to know from me why she was scheduling. When she is 40 minutes late to an appointment and the client is calling me – her response is: “Did you ask her?” I said she has a cell phone and she is my boss! Why do I have to ask her? Why am I supervising my manager? Any suggestions???? Thank You!

Signed, Doing the Job of Two

Dear Doing the Job of Two:

What you do not say in your e-mail is what is your job. Apparently, you do not have a clear job description and since you by default learned your boss’s job, and because now you have a new boss, who lacks the proper skills and has other shortcomings as a boss, you are doing both your job and hers grudgingly. You say you have documented the mistakes of this new boss and reported them to the top boss, whom you say goes a long way back with the individual hired and who tried to explain away the errors you documented. I assume it was the top boss who asked you about the why of numerous overtime scheduling.

You have two problems: Your boss and Your top boss. How do you handle these two? Unfortunately, subordinates often have to train their bosses and then manage them. Are you up to that? If so, you will have to assertively hammer out who does what or who in your opinion should do what. Once you have noted these task and who should assign them and approve or just needs to be informed of them, your next step is to schedule a meeting with your boss to negotiate and put in writing a mutual understanding of these tasks. I have known situations in which secretaries have taught superiors, who did not proof read what they requested typed, to proof, and, who did not make assignments enough in advance, to plan ahead.

Clarity and agreement on who does what and how can be negotiated.Apparently, from what you report about going to your boss’s boss, it would be reasonable to expect that your new boss does not hold you in the highest regard, to say the least. No doubt it is problematic whether you can mend fences by admitting you by-passed her by reporting her failures. However, to simply grudgingly to work for and with a boss you label incompetent (and have made it clear that that is your judgment of her) is not a boss-bossed relationship that can be pleasant for either of you.

Consequently, if in the course of the job clarification exercise, suggested above, you can not smooth things over, no doubt, you will have to eat crow and apologize to earn back her tolerance and/or appreciation of you or seek work elsewhere. If your workplace is big enough, that may mean requesting a transfer. If not, it probably will mean asking your boss’s boss for a letter of recommendation, once you have another job in hand or good prospects of getting one. Does this make sense? Otherwise, from now on, might it be smart to tell your boss’s boss (should he come to you asking about such things as so much scheduled overtime) that you no longer will come to him without first conferring with your boss that you will do so and that you do not feel comfortable about being asked about her performance without her knowledge? Why? Because you are doing your best to develop a good working relationship with her and you regret bypassing her with complaints of incompetence.Please, keep us posted on how all this transpires. The mission of our site is to share those working situations that frustrate and to seek out ways of transforming those that are salvageable. Almost all working relationships can become more effected and spirited–what our WEGO signature symbolizes.

Follow Up One Month Later: Unfortunately to Ask the Workplace Doctors about In it, I was written up and put on an improvement plan. I was told I was not doing a good job and that she had concerns. My improvement plan, however, did not contain anything that I was supposed to do differently or improve upon. Where they were supposed to put concerns, they put resolutions. Where they were supposed to put plans of action, they put nothing.

The Human Resource Manager was talking to the owner throughout all this, and I was assured it would be taken care of. I was told the day I resigned that they were going to fire my boss. Yeah right. I decided if they had followed through and dismissed her, I would have been right back to where I was when they fired my first boss. All by myself and doing everything. No thanks.I got a job as a Legal Assistant at a law office that is much closer to my home. I was a Private Duty Nursing Program Assistant. We dealt mainly with senior citizens. I really loved that job. Go figure. Thanks for writing me back.

William Gorden