Why senior management loves your incompetent boss

by Evil HR Lady on February 27, 2012

Dear Evil HR Lady,

My boss is a mess. I don’t even know where to begin. Among other things, her most serious problem is her incompetence. It is troublesome that nobody above her notices her incompetence because she has a competent team working under her. She is up for a promotion, which I and all of the other coworkers in the team do not think she deserves. We are worried that she is presenting the work the team does as her own. What do we do?

To read the answer click here: Why senior management loves your incompetent boss

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Riley Leah February 27, 2012 at 9:30 pm

As much as I hate to comment on such a negative topic, several years ago, I worked for a boss who sounded exactly like this one. Her boss would give her tasks to do and she would tell me to do them and would go back to the boss and say that she has finished the task upon finding out that I’d finished the task. Whenever I had great ideas for handling a problem, they became her great ideas. In addition, she also received a small promotion but would ‘bad mouth’ me every time that I was in a position to receive a small promotion.

She even admitted to me that she didn’t know how to do her job duties and would ask me to show her how to do them. Afterward, she still would be unable to understand and would ask me to do the tasks altogether. Since most of them were clerical/software related in nature, she would ask me to e-mail them to her and then she would make it seem as if she has done the tasks and e-mail them to her boss – with my name erased, etc.

Eventually, some people started to figure her out and she was moved to another department and replaced by an even more incompetent boss! However, before the first boss left, she was sure to ‘bad mouth’ me to her boss and her replacement – further ensuring that I would never be promoted. Thus, when the new boss couldn’t handle it, she was called in again.


Jeanne February 28, 2012 at 2:24 am

In my experience, most organizations do nothing about incompetent bosses and often promote them. I had one that was tormenting me. I fought back and proved she was lying so they promoted her so I wasn’t her direct report anymore. They didn’t discipline her.


iceyone February 29, 2012 at 6:12 am

That’s the way some companies operate – either leave an incompetent boss in their current position or promote them to a level of incompetence!

Often it’s easier to find another position than force the higher ups to change – after all they will 99% of the time side with another manager!


The Plaid Cow February 29, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Do you get paid by the page view for your articles on CBS? Do you have any pull to get their horribly broken mobile site fixed? (If you are reading on a mobile device, such as an iPhone, all of the direct article links are redirected to the main article page. Annoying, to say the least.


Evil HR Lady February 29, 2012 at 5:33 pm

It is annoying as all get out. And yes I get paid by the hit, and yes they know and no, they can’t seem to get it fixed.

Bugs me.


The Plaid Cow February 29, 2012 at 7:23 pm

My cynical view says that they know about the program, know how to fix it, but aren’t bothering because it drives “free” traffic to their site. (And the cost to their user base just isn’t measured.)


Long Time Admin March 8, 2012 at 3:14 pm

And they’re incompetent.


Leana April 1, 2012 at 7:05 pm

I honestly thought that only happened in Government agencies! I currently have a supervisor that only has a high school diploma (earned over 30 years ago) and has taken no management courses to further his knowledge on the subject. But, he is treated as though he is a good manager. I have held out hope that his incompetence isn’t being discovered due to upper management staffing problems and once we have a new Director integrated into the department, it will become more evident. But, having a bad boss does bad things to employee morale. I pray that it gets fixed soon.


Bob February 15, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Incompetence runs high in different places. We are always the incompetent of someone else. I have seen competent managers and incompetent ones. Why the direction of a company would tolerate an incompetent one is obvious:
They always prefer to have a boot licking, docile and easy to run manager rather than a competent one who would change the status quo and make things happen. The direction might feel threatened by someone who would point out their own incompetence. Often they spend their times covering their own ass and each others asses. That’s why you have so many incompetent managers.
You don’t need them to do your job, but they need you to justify their paycheck.

However, the most incompetent services and people I’ve ever met are H.R. Out of 10 H.R I dealt with in my life, I can’t find one who was competent. It seems that all the useless people nobody would want in any other services are concentrated in HR departments.
It is especially true in big U.S corporations where HR people are basically paid to report people attitudes to management.
HR are the scum of the earth in the enterprise world.


Acton August 2, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Dear EHRL,

It seems that I know the person you are talking about or to be more exact, in my career I have met many times this incompetent person. Just she had a different name in each department or company I worked for.

As far as I remember, often these people get their job thanks to their bosses who hire them through “recommendation” (their own recommendation).
So of course, it makes sense. The big boss is incompetent, he/she then hires a more inept subordinate to be sure not to be challenged and to look good.
The other category of HIGHLY incompetent people are in human resources services. It seems that they, like the gremlins eating after midnight, breed and reproduce at rabbit speed nowadays.
I have had many companies, interviews, worked in many different services and jobs and always, always, always, the most incompetent and wind blowing people were human resources employees.

I even wonder if one of the criteria for selection is not the incompetence level. And if R are incompetent, as they have too much power compared to their real skills. There are good chances that alt of other inept employees are going to be hired.

It’s like a contagious disease, once it has spread, entire services can be contaminated by one or two recruiters.

The problem is a bit like the one with catholic priest or a public school teacher. The first one is going to perform marriage and give advice on a matter he has not a clue about since he can’t marry. The second is going to teach your children in order they can survive in life while he/she has never left school him/herself.

The HR people study HR stuff in school, then get their job in some company without having ever been working in a specific trade. How can they understand an engineer, a salesman, a manager, a technician. How can they judge and assess people who have more experience, skills and knowledge than them ?

And why do they have so much power in a company over real skilled and productive people ?

Any recruiter, any HR should come from the ground, should have learned first his trade and then because of some special relational or human skills evolve to H.R.

The majority are just like teachers and priest, they have known nothing than school and their own office. They are like civil servant hiding in private businesses. This is why you find so many incompetent people deciding for your job and future in a company.,


Christine October 22, 2013 at 4:58 pm

It has been my experience that a lot outgoing (retiring, moving up or leaving the company) supervisors hire their replacements from within the department. They do this because it’s just easier to promote from within than to look externally and go through that process. I have seen incompetent employees promoted to supervisors because the supervisor didn’t want to go through the “hassel” of looking outside the company. What this does is bring moral and production in the department down. The outgoing supervisor leaves this “problem” for company/department manager to handle never looks back.


ANONYMOUS April 18, 2015 at 6:28 am

Edited because this is a pg rated blog.


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