How Does One Manage an Incompetent Manager?
The questioner does not say whether the manager's is their boss or employee, but I'll answer assuming they're the employee. If they're the boss, they should manage the same way they would manage any of their employees who is not competent to do the job they're paid for.
This is not just one question because there are quite a few different breeds of incompetent managers. To take just two examples, some are incompetent because they don’t interact with their employees at all, while others micromanage with a vengeance. It seems clear that you’d want to handle each situation in its own unique way.
If your manager is invisible, leaving you alone, just be thankful and go about your business. Believe me, you’re lucky.
For me, the first step in managing a micro-manager is to leave. Find another job, with different manager. A better one.
As for other managerial symptoms of incompetence, you can try working with the manager as one person to another, but realize that this amounts to taking on a second job. If you’re not a a trained psychologist, you might be better just leaving this one alone.
But if you decide you have the skills to manage your manager, do it the way a competent manager would. That is, concentrate on the question, “How is this manager interfering with the work we are being paid to do?” If their incompetence isn’t interfering in a significant way, maybe offer a bit of feedback, but only once, and then get on with your paying job.
In many cases, someone you perceive as incompetent can be a lot easier to live with than to fix. They may not even be as incompetent as you believe.
But if you're seeking advice on a particular pattern of incompetence, write me a note or comment. I will try to help you with specific actions to take.
Oh, and by the way, if you’re neither this manager’s boss or employee, then it’s none of your business, so just leave it alone. There are more incompetent managers in the world than you can possibly cure.
Here's a couple of books you might find helpful:
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