(By Jacquelyn Smith)
“You still have a job to do and if your focus is on why someone not as qualified as you is your boss instead of the other way around, you’ll drive yourself crazy, Teach says. “Put your resentment aside and work together with them as much as possible. While it may be difficult for you, it’s in your best interest that they succeed because if they look good, you look good.”
Have you ever wondered how your boss got to where he is today? Do you believe you’re more qualified to manage a team of employees because you have more experience, greater knowledge, and better leadership skills?
There’s a very good chance you’re right—that you are more capable or competent than your boss. In fact, according to the experts, this isn’t so uncommon, and it can be extremely frustrating.
“It’s a mistaken belief in many companies that you should promote the most [experienced] people to management positions–so they’ll often make the ‘best’ software developer the new management head or promote the ‘best’ salesman to lead the rest. But being good at a job in no way translates into being a good manager,” says Alexander Kjerulf, an international author and speaker on happiness at work.
In other organizations, getting a promotion is not always about how good you are at your job or how much experience you have under your belt, but how well you play the political games in the workplace, he says. “It’s about who you know, who you eat lunch with and who sees you eat lunch with that person. This is incredibly toxic because people end up devoting more energy to looking good than to doing a good job. This can help explain why some organizations keep putting the wrong people in management positions.”
Andy Teach, author of From Graduation to Corporation, and host of the YouTube channel FromGradToCorp, agrees. He says less qualified people are put in higher positions for the wrong reasons all the time. “Sometimes it’s because they have seniority; they have more years of experience. Sometimes they have a great personal relationship with the big boss. Or perhaps they have a stronger work ethic than others or work longer hours,” he says. “A less qualified person may be put in a higher position for just one of these reasons but may lack in other areas which is why their employees may feel that this higher position is undeserved.”
But Teach says sometimes employees think that they’re more qualified than their boss, when they actually aren’t. “There’s normally a little resentment that we have toward our bosses and this resentment can be justified in our minds by thinking that someone else above us in rank is getting what we deserved.” Sometimes it’s true, but in many cases it isn’t, he adds. “Usually the boss is the boss for a good reason.”
Amy Hoover, president of Talent Zoo, says you need to remember “that ‘experience’ and ‘qualified’ sometimes go hand in hand, but often they differ.“ Just because you have a longer work history than your boss doesn’t necessarily mean you are more qualified, she says. “Your boss may have had a more comprehensive education or more intense and robust positions early in his or her career so be sure to consider those factors before you deem yourself more qualified than your boss. Sometimes someone younger than you is in a higher position simply because they possess soft skills that you may not. For example, better leadership skills, sales skills, or something specific to your industry.”
But if you find yourself in a position where you truly are more qualified than your boss, it will likely be very frustrating, Hoover says–but here are some things you can do to manage the situation:
Evaluate whether or not your supervisor is good at their job. Even if you feel that you may be more qualified, if your supervisor is getting the job done properly, then there’s not much you can say, Teach says. “If not, then you may have an opportunity to move up in the future.”
Be positive, not resentful. “Try to look for the reason why the person is in this position and learn from it,” Hoover suggests.
Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio, a New York-based career coach and co-founder of SixFigureStart, agrees. She says: “Do not be negative. Do not be seen as a disgruntled employee. You will get nowhere.”
“Look at the bright side,” Teach adds. “You still have a job and if you truly are more qualified than your boss, eventually upper management may see this, so just be patient. Take pride in your accomplishments-it will all pay off one day.”
Find out why they got the job if you’re more qualified. “It may speak more to a quality you don’t possess vs. a quality they do possess,” Teach says. It might simply be politics and sometimes it’s hard to combat that. Whatever the reasons are, consider it all a learning experience.
Be a teacher. “If there are things about your job that your boss needs to know to be able to lead you, offer to teach your boss about them,” Kjerulf says.
Thanasoulis-Cerrachio says by helping the boss, there is a chance that they will get “all the glory.” “But what is alternative? You cannot be seen as a cog in the wheel. That is career suicide.”
Don’t take it personally. Just because someone above you may be less qualified than you, it doesn’t mean that there was some grand conspiracy to make you look bad or not recognise you for your accomplishments, Teach says. “Chances are that you’re not the only one who feels that your supervisor is less qualified than you.”
Work with them, not against them. You still have a job to do and if your focus is on why someone not as qualified as you is your boss instead of the other way around, you’ll drive yourself crazy, Teach says. “Put your resentment aside and work together with them as much as possible. While it may be difficult for you, it’s in your best interest that they succeed because if they look good, you look good.”
Don’t expect your manager to be better at your job than you. That is not why people are managers, Kjerulf says.
Don’t badmouth your boss. Do not ever bad mouth your manager no matter how unqualified they are. This will ruin any chances of moving up and is utterly unprofessional, says Amanda Abella, a career coach, writer, speaker, and founder of the Gen Y lifestyle blog Grad Meets World.
“It will inevitably get back to them and now you’ll have a strained relationship with your boss which is something you really don’t need,” Teach adds. “As tempting as it may be, talking negatively about your boss is only going to make things worse for you.”
Talk to your mentor. “Sometimes people make hiring mistakes and hire the wrong people,” Thanasoulis-Cerrachio says. “It happens and it’s not a good thing. But you must make the best of it. If things are very complicated and mistakes are happening, it may be helpful to speak to a mentor or trusted source.”
Don’t blame your boss. Hoover says it’s not their fault that they’re ahead of you on the food chain. “Try to respect him or her and even take some pointers.”
Focus on advancing your own career, rather than bringing someone else down. “Look for similar ways you may move ahead, whether it’s additional training or education, or simply talking to management or HR about your aspirations,” Hoover says.
Abella says you cannot control what HR does or why, but you can control what kind of an employee you are. “If you want to move up you’re going to have to show your managers you deserve it – especially if you haven’t been with the company for very long. This includes increasing the company’s revenue, having a good relationship with your manager and co-workers, fixing any problems that may have been missed, and constantly stepping up to the plate.”
Don’t complain. If you find yourself reporting to someone whom you feel is less qualified than you, the worst thing you can do is to continually complain about the situation, which will hurt your reputation, Teach says. “Sometimes you have to take one for the team and approach things from a team perspective and not from an individual perspective. If you’re going to complain, do it about things that you do have some control over. Pick your battles.”
Start looking for another job. “If you’re doing all of this and still can’t seem to move up, it may be time to find a company where there is better opportunity for growth,” Abella says.
Teach agrees. He says if the situation really bothers you and it doesn’t look like things are going to change, “then start looking for another job but keep in mind that you may run into the same situation somewhere else.”
“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”