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3 Different Questions, 1 Answer: Your Manager Sucks And It Isn’t Going To Change

Sometimes you can make improvements in your work life, and other times it’s best to cut and run. These are those times.

3 Different Questions, 1 Answer: Your Manager Sucks And It Isn’t Going To Change
[Photo: Flickr user Guian Bolisay]

It’s an unfortunate fact of working life: some people who become bosses are no good at their jobs.

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Career expert Alison Green (aka Ask A Manager) tackles Three letters with one answer:

How can I improve morale when our president is so difficult?

I work for a very small nonprofit with fewer than 15 employees. We have had a difficult history with a lot of turnover. Due to that turnover, I am now second in command and most of the organization reports to me.

I have been trying to improve morale, but the line I am increasingly getting is “Things won’t improve until the president leaves.” He is a difficult person; he has wild ideas that he will make everyone work on and change his mind suddenly about large projects that take a lot of effort. He also publicly holds people accountable for things that really aren’t their fault, or aren’t realistic, but does it in a group setting so there is no way for them to defend themselves without making him look bad. I could go on, but how can I help build a stronger team that works together without fixing the real problem (the boss)?


Your manager sucks and isn’t going to change.

You can’t build a team that functions as if your difficult, demoralizing president isn’t heading up the organization, because he is. You may be able to make small improvements around the edges, but the fundamental problem is going to remain. Do you want to be second in command to someone who operates that way?

How can I make my boss see reason?

I recently started a new job as vice president of content for an online company with about 25 employees. The CEO/owner has a long history of successful start-ups. However, he’s into his 70s now and I’m wondering if he’s losing his grip a little.

I’ve been in this business for decades myself, and the money he wants to pay the freelance writers is absurdly low–about half the going rate, and he wants me to cut it further even while he brags that our content is better than our competitors–it’s not. He even found some outsource content providers that send us barely literate copy for next to nothing. The stuff is ghastly.

His plans (for the amount of content) are so grandiose that even if he tripled our budget it would still be a stretch. Ironically, if he lowered is quantity expectations, I could create a very profitable site for him.

He seems impervious to reason and is getting more and more annoyed with me that I can’t produce the quantity and quality he wants on his low budget. I’m thinking of quietly talking to the sales staff and telling them the boss is going to wreck the company if this goes on, but that sounds dangerous.

Any ideas? I want to stay here–the pay is good and I see a lot of potential.


Your manager sucks and isn’t going to change.

You can try spelling out reality for him (“the going rate for the work we need is $X, the plans you have for the site will cost $Y to do well, and so we need to pay more or accept shoddy work”), but it sounds like you’ve tried and it hasn’t gotten you anywhere. Since you don’t have a magic wand that can make him see reason, and he apparently isn’t changing his mind, you’ve got to decide whether you want to be VP of content for a site with content you consider ghastly.

My boss always favors new employees over everyone else

I’ve worked for the same company for almost six years. It’s had its ups and downs, but I’ve remained loyal, putting in long hours and hard work. Having been here this long, I’ve noticed a recurring problem. Whenever a new employee is hired, my boss gravitates towards them and holds their opinions and decisions above everyone else’s.

To me, this seems backwards. Rather than giving the new guy a chance to work hard and prove himself as a valuable employee, my boss automatically gives him that advantage. For example, the new employee who has worked here for less than five months has currently taken it upon himself to redesign our company logo. Said employee does not even have a background in design, yet this is being allowed.

My coworkers and I have brought this problem to the attention of our boss, and yet he completely disregards our concerns. And it’s not just this new employee — it happens every time. Any time a new person is hired, they automatically know more than anyone else and are put on a pedestal. I call it the “shiny new toy effect.”

I would think our boss would value and respect the people currently keeping the company afloat, especially since new hires have been like a revolving door. In general, my boss is pretty naive, I just don’t understand why he favors new employees and shows no loyalty or respect for those of us who have stuck by his side.


Your manager sucks and isn’t going to change.

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All you can really do is decide whether you can work there reasonably happily knowing that, or whether it’s time to look for another job.

This article originally appeared on Ask A Manager and is reprinted with permission.

If you have a dilemma you’d like our panel of experts to answer, send your questions to AskFC@fastcompany.com or tweet us a question using #AskFC.

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