What to do when you have a disengaged boss?


Over the course of your career, the odds are fairly high you’ll work for at least one bad boss. Most of these ‘bad’ bosses won’t mean to be that way, they could just be disconnected from jobs or their team. This could be for a number of reasons, from the job being too much for them to personal situations affecting them. Bosses are humans too but a disengaged boss can be difficult to work for and can cause a decrease in morale and productivity.


Here are seven tips for dealing with a disengaged boss.


1. Talk to your boss


Although this can be difficult, it should be your first step. Try to set some time to touch base with your boss privately and discuss your concerns, identifying specific instances where your boss could have helped you better. Limit being personal and do not attack your boss as they will more than likely go on the defensive then and that could help no one. It is best to brainstorm ways to find a solution for what you require from them and vice versa. This is also a good time to proactively set time frames, expectations and objectives. In some ways, you could ‘manage up’ by tracking and providing progress updates to your boss, asking for help or advice as needed.


2. Uncover opportunities for your growth


Sometimes a disengaged boss might want to stick around until retirement as they don’t want to test the job market or they are just comfortable in their situation. If your boss isn’t leaving any time soon, you could take some of their responsibilities off them so you can add them to your skill set for your career development. It’s important to remember, you are responsible for your own output and career so be proactive.


3. Get involved in cross-functional projects


If you want to be challenged, get to know other employees and managers outside your department. In other words, be proactive with your job within the organisation. This can allow you to up-skill, increase your profile and demonstrate your skills to a wider selection of people in the organisation. It also gives you an opportunity to see what managers you would like to work with.


4. Transfer


If you don’t see things will change but you want to stay in an organisation, enquire if there are any transfer opportunities available and start working on moving areas.


5. Find a mentor


A mentor can provide career advice and be able to work on solutions with you. It is worth finding a mentor to assist you in your career choices.


6. Build your personal brand


It’s important that you work on building your brand within the company and your industry. You don’t want to get trapped behind your boss, so look for ways to improve your personal brand from writing blogs to networking.


7. Find a new job


If you don’t see any resolution to the situation, then it may be time to make the decision to leave and find a more challenging job. There are no guarantees your next boss will be the leader you are after. But if the current situation is affecting your morale, health, motivation and potentially your career, it could be a risk worth taking.


Dealing with a disengaged boss is not easy, but it is possible. Try to do everything you can to make the situation better or work on a way to leave. The whole situation can be a great lesson and will make you a better leader.

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