What can you do about a bad manager as a sysadmin?

In the past, we talked a bit about how you can deal with ignorant users as a sysadmin. Today, I’d like to explore that topic in a bit more depth. What, for instance, can you do if one of those users actually happens to be your boss?

I’m not just talking about a boss that may be a bit ignorant about how technology works, mind you. I’m talking about a manager who outright expects you to do the impossible, a superior who blames you for the slightest technological hiccup. Basically, I’m talking about someone who’s a downright nightmare to work with.

It’s more common than you might think, believe it or not - and if you don’t take action to deal with the situation, it’s more or less guaranteed to kill any passion you might have left for your job.

“One study found that almost 80 per cent of the employees surveyed identified their boss as a lousy manager,” writes Randall S. Hansen of Quint Careers. “And almost 70 per cent in that study conducted by Delta Road stated that their immediate superior had “no clue” what to do to become a good manager. Author Harvey Hornstein, Ph.D., estimates that 90 per cent of the U.S. workforce has been subjected to abusive behaviour at some time. He bases his conclusions on a survey of nearly 1,000 workers over eight years.”

So...what can you do about it?

A few things. First and foremost, take an honest inventory of your strengths and weaknesses. As noted by Rick Conlow of WCW partners, it might not be your boss that’s the problem - it might be you. Either way, by understanding what you’re doing wrong and what you need to improve upon, you’ll be much better off.

In addition to understanding your strengths and weaknesses, you should make an effort to understand theirs. Forbes contributor Margie Warrell advises the following:

  • Know what your boss cares about.
  • Know what your boss worries about.
  • Know what your boss wants to see more of on a daily basis (and what they want to see less of)
  • Know how your boss feels about impressing others.
  • Know how your boss feels about failure.

Finally, as with end users, communication is vital. Keep in regular contact with your manager, especially if they’re directly responsible for what you do in the workplace. Keep them apprised of what’s going on with regular update emails, instant messages, calls; whatever it takes to ensure that they know what’s happening around them. There’s a chance - albeit a small one - that if you give them enough insight into your position, they’ll ease up on you, as they’ll better understand precisely what it is you do.

Talk to other people in the workplace, as well. Find out if they’ve got problems with management, or if it’s just you. And if worse comes to worse - and a civil confrontation with your boss doesn’t work - then consider documenting a case against your manager and taking it to their boss.

Now, it’s worth noting at this point that in some cases, there’s going to be nothing you can do about a bad boss. You’re going to have to either work around them, grin and bear it, or find a new job. And don’t feel too bad about doing so - again, you’re not alone in that.

Tim Mullahy, general manager at Liberty Center One

Image source: Shutterstock/ArtFamily