Dealing with a Lazy Boss

If you report to a lazy boss, you know all too well that you need strategies to not only lower your blood pressure, but surefire methods to increase your ability to take charge of your own success.

Believe it or not, a boss whose work ethic is anemic at best can provide opportunities for you to practice self-leadership. Read that last sentence again. This concept does require wrapping your brain around it.

First, you have to reframe your perspective to understand how working for an exertion-challenged boss can make you stand out and reduce your own pressure to work on an exit strategy.

You already know that a boss who avoids pulling his or her own weight because he or she is engrossed in yet another personal phone call, cell phone video game or extra long break personifies how not to behave.

So how should you act?

Here are three approaches for developing a better working relationship with a boss who shirks responsibilities and is less than inspiring.

Stay optimistic and energetic.

It may be a challenge, but remain upbeat and high-performing. Avoid complaining about your boss’s sloth-like behavior to coworkers or slacking off at work, too. Limit bad-mouthing about your boss to trusted people outside of the workplace.

Offer support.

Instead of thinking about ways to make your boss look bad, help him or her succeed. Using your strengths to camouflage the weaknesses of your boss may even pay off in the long run. If your boss is tardy to meetings, volunteer to get the next one started. If you are a known organizer and your boss isn’t, pitch in so he or she can stay on top of things.


Meet privately one-to-one.

Speak up about your concerns and give your manager a chance to address them. Your mind-reading ability is not foolproof. Opening a dialogue may take a productive turn. Stay calm and rational when speaking with your boss about the problematic behavior. Practice what you want to say before the meeting.

What happens if there is no difference in behavior despite your engagement, support and private discussions?

The next step may be to speak to upper management or HR. Going over your manager’s head may have repercussions, so weigh the pros and cons. If you do decide to leave for another opportunity, you have plenty of company. A Gallup study released last year found half of the workers surveyed quit a job “to get away from their manager.”

Whether you decide to stay and try to work it out or pursue another gig, learning how to deal with difficult people on the job is a handy skill to possess.

Working around a lazy boss can help you shine as a competent and hard worker. Remember, your performance shapes your reputation, self-respect and skill set. Not being as limited as your boss is always a goal worth pursuing.

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