Identify Their Motivation
Understanding why your boss does or cares about certain things can give insight into his or her management style.
“...if the rules are totally out of control, try to figure out their motivation. Maybe it’s not that he really cares about how long your lunch break takes; he actually cares about how it looks to other employees and their superiors.”
Don’t Let It Affect Your Work
No matter how bad their behavior, avoid letting it affect your work. Serve in excellence anyway. You want to stay on good terms with other leaders in the company (and keep your job!).
“Don’t try to even the score by working slower, or taking excessive ‘mental health’ days or longer lunches. It will only put you further behind in your workload and build a case for your boss to give you the old heave-ho before you’re ready to go.”
Stay One Step Ahead
Especially when you're dealing with a micromanager, head off his/her requests by anticipating them and getting things done before they come to you.
“…a great start to halting micromanagement in its tracks is to anticipate the tasks that your manager expects and get them done well ahead of time. If you reply, ‘I actually already left a draft of the schedule on your desk for your review,’ enough times, you’ll minimize the need for her reminders. She’ll realize that you have your responsibilities on track—and that she doesn’t need to watch your every move.”
Working with someone who seems to have no boundaries means that you have to go ahead and set them.
“One of the challenges of unlikable people is that they come with equally unlikable behavior—and it’s important to learn how to distance yourself from that behavior. As Robert Frost said, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’”
Stop Assuming Management Knows Everything
Just because someone has a managerial title doesn’t mean that they have all the right answers, all the time.
“I realized then that, just because someone is in a position of authority, doesn’t mean he or she knows everything. From that point forward, I stopped assuming the title ‘manager was equivalent to ‘all knowing.’
Act as the Leader and Add Value
When dealing with an incompetent leader, sometimes it's best to make some leadership decisions on your own. Add value in all that you do.
If you know your area well enough, there is no reason to not go ahead creating and pursuing a direction you know will achieve good results for your company. People who do this are naturally followed by their peers as an informal leader. Management, although maybe not your direct boss, will notice your initiative. Of course, you don’t want to do something that undermines the boss, so keep him or her in the loop.
If your boss has management problems, identify what triggers her/his meltdowns and be extra militant about avoiding those triggers. Make yourself look good which in turn makes them look good also. Serve your way to a better flowing relationship.
Avoid Future Challenges
When interviewing with a new component, do your research ahead of time to make sure you're not getting into another situation with a less-than-ideal manager.
“Have coffee or lunch with one or more staffers at the new area. Ostensibly, your purpose is to learn general information about the company and its culture. However, use this opportunity to discover as much about your potential boss as possible, without appearing creepy, of course.”