Doing Good While Working for a Crazy/Bad/Clueless Boss

When I was an associate pastor, I thought my senior pastor was clueless. Then I became a senior pastor. When I was a senior pastor, I thought for sure some conference people did not know what they were doing. Then I became a conference official and my attention centered on the union…

You get the point. The further away you are from a situation the easier it seems. That also applies to the people you work for.

Once in a while you get a bad boss. We all have had one. The boss from Hades. The mention of his/her name provokes an eye roll accompanied by a desire to throw up a little in your mouth. Here is a quick list of difficult bosses and a few strategies to help you cope--

1. The absent boss. They do not care. They welcome you to the team but are not accessible. This creates both opportunities and challenges. This used to be me. I am not a detail person so I just let people run free. Here is a bad idea: Give responsibility without instruction. Will make you say “what is my job description again?”

2. The controlling boss. “Run it by me first” is the favorite phrase. Even little details have to be approved first. Will make you question your decision-making prowess.

3. The insecure boss. Tough going with this one. The leadership quandary is this: shine and they want you gone for outperforming the boss. Relax and they will want to gone for not doing your job. Will make you say “Oh boy, what now?”

4. The “I talk in code” boss. More like a passive aggressive pioneer. This boss will talk to everyone while wanting to address only one. Makes you say “Is it me Lord?”

5. The clueless boss. Will talk like they know, but they don’t. Prefer status quo’s and use power point slides, data and references from the 90’s (if you’re lucky). Will make you say “what even is this?”

What you can do:
1. The absent boss. Ask for the job description at the interview. Remember that the interview is the best you and they will get along. Ask for feedback process, accessibility, etc. Preferably in writing. Ask for and schedule well in advance meetings to inform and ask questions.

2. The controlling boss. Over inform. It will get on your nerves, but so will a grumpy boss. Ask lots of questions. Information will not save you, but it will minimize the drama. Put in writing. Let me say that again, put in writing. Controlling people have selective memories.

3. The insecure boss. Flattery is your friend. Look for public ways to let them know you appreciate their leadership. Give them credit. Get a new job.

4. The “I talk in code” boss. Ask them directly if they were referring to you. Suspense is great for movies, not so much for workplace.

5. The clueless boss. Don’t roll your eyes. Whenever you can send them a gift of a resource you have found helpful and sneak those references into the conversation.
What other ideas have you found helpful?


Roger Hernandez is the ministerial director for the Southern Union Conference