Help My Boss is an Idiot! 5 Steps to Freedom: Part 2

Help my boss is an idiot! 5 steps to freedom: Part 2

Hey welcome back everyone! In this section we dig into a critical but often underperformed aspect of dealing with your boss.

Step 2: What do they want?

Let’s face it many employees are not in the position they need to be where they have the financial security, self-confidence, credentials and experience to do what I consider to be the best thing which is to not work for an idiot boss. Most employees, at least in the short term, need to work where they are. So the process for dealing with an idiot boss is an important discussion for many.


The first step is again to look inward. Are you currently performing at your best? No excuses, no explanations, yes or no question. If your answer is no, deal with that first. Do not read further until you fix the problem and perform at your highest reasonable level.

So let’s assume that you are performing at your best, what now…


The most important step you can take is to clearly understand your bosses work stance. What is it they want from you? What goals do you need to achieve to satisfy them? What behaviors do you need to demonstrate to work successfully with them?

You need to have absolute clarity on what they expect of you. The clearer your understanding of their expectations the better you can perform. It is amazing how few employees and bosses understand the fundamental importance of this simple process of communication. Think about it, if we do exactly what they need us to do, only the most twisted of bosses can turn that against us. (And this leads us back to my preferred advice above!) If you get better at clarifying expectations, you will find yourself also looking at behavioral expectations the same way. In essence you can gain clarity on the behavioral standard your boss expects of you. By making this explicit we can create better understanding and better performance.

What of the boss who doesn’t know what they expect? Yes I know they are out there! First the process of asking what they expect will get them to think about it, and hopefully commit to a standard of performance that is clear and measurable instead of variable and arbitrary. If they “got nothing” so to speak this actually opens the door for you to offer some perspective on what the expectations could be. Note that this is very dangerous ground, as a weak boss can easily feel threatened by a confident and capable employee who is helping them perform their job. For more on how to deal with a weak boss you can engage Developing Leaders to train your company managers. Note that we won’t ever call them weak. We are smarter than that. We will teach a course on management skills with a strong leadership program embedded so they can get it at their own pace.


But Ron what if what they want is so unreasonable, so repulsive, so ridiculous that I cannot in good conscience ever meet their expectations? Hey great question! This takes us to step number 3…

But that’s in our next post…

In the meantime homework:

What information do you have already that would help you compile a comprehensive list of your boss’s expectations? Past performance reviews, feedback data, department and or personal goals…

Compile a bullet point list of what you believe would be your bosses top 5 performance expectations of you. BE PROFESSIONAL!!!!

Consider discussing these with your boss or at least asking him what his expectations are. Not a bad idea to start like this: Hey boss I would like to talk to you about my performance. Specifically I want to be sure that I understand what you expect of me in terms of good performance. Can you give me some guidance on exactly what you are looking for from me?

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