Sidebar: Fixing a Flawed Boss

Most people would call it futile to try to change a person -- particularly a boss -- who doesn't want to change. But in cases where you see mostly good managerial traits with just one or two fatal flaws, it might be worth speaking up and managing the manager.

Peter Baker, a vice president at Emcor Facilities Services, recently worked for a boss he liked but who had a tendency to micromanage the junior-level people on the team. "I told him, 'Pretend they're in a box, and when they hit the walls of the box, it will get bigger and bigger and bigger,'" he says. "Now this guy has the easiest job you can have, because he has a really high-performance team."

William McQuiston, retiring this month as CIO at Truman Medical Centers, remembers pointing out the importance of body language to one of his managers, whom he describes as "a stereotypical IT person who was introverted and kept a lot of stuff inside."

At meetings, this manager would strive to maintain a controlled voice, but his body language was "screaming like crazy, and he didn't even realize it," McQuiston says. His posture would stiffen, his face would redden, he'd cross his arms, clench his fists and roll his eyes. "I told him, 'The next time you're in a meeting, just be conscious of what's going on with your hands,' " McQuiston says. Eventually, the manager got to the point where he could express his ideas with some passion and even show some anger without it becoming destructive.

"You should always be managing your boss up or out," McQuiston says. "If you can make your boss successful, your own opportunities are a lot greater."

Have your own horror story? Head to the Bad Boss Blog, where readers post their own experiences, and our experts offer advice on coping.

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Editor's pick from our archives: Are You a Scary Boss?

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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