My manager is knowledgable but not well respected. He does not like to share knowledge, but would rather prove that he knows more than others.

This is his first time in a supervisory position, and I am his one and only subordinate.

He has the ability to be Jekyll and Hyde; one day I am praised and given credit for work I've done, the next day he will take the credit for work I have done, or will completely disregard my projects, only to replace with his own similar versions.

For these reasons and more, I've come to lose respect and not value or trust his opinion of my work. I believe he is threatened by my abilities as this was previously solely his department and was recently expanded to add another employee (myself).

I am looking for suggestions of coping techniques. What are ways to deal with a boss who takes credit for your work? I do not want to appear as a tattle tale, but I am not intimidated by him.

Leaving the company is not an option at this point, and opportunity for movement within is limited (for the time being). I have been respectfully biting my tongue, and have kept composure with him. I have gone to his superior more than once (which may be seen as disrespectful by some, but my position requires me to work semi-closely with his superior, so I felt comfortable) I hope to move up within the organization and don't want to burn any bridges.

  • 1
    What did his superior say? And have you spoken to your manager about how you feel? – Jane S Jun 23 '15 at 3:15
  • His superior was receptive to my concerns and has encouraged me that things will get better, and this is the result of a new dept. and my manager finding his place. It was mentioned that my concerns will be considered as a coaching opportunity for the superior to use with my manager. – IndigoJane Jun 23 '15 at 3:20
  • I feel that I have been patient and forgiving - this is a new position after all... I have not spoken to my manager directly about what upsets me, but have rather asked for guidance (i.e. what could I have done differently?, clarifying his expectations of me, etc) my mid year review was excellent with him; I am confident that he considers me an asset, but may feel insecure as well... – IndigoJane Jun 23 '15 at 3:23
  • It sounds like your company is now trying to work towards a solution for you. That may take some time to occur. How long ago did you last approach the superior about it? When did you first approach the superior about it? – Jane S Jun 23 '15 at 3:23
  • A feeling of insecurity is very common in new managers. They are unable to see their value in delegation rather than as the person that does the work on the ground. It will take time for him to let go of that :) – Jane S Jun 23 '15 at 3:24

I have through the years worked for good bosses, great bosses, bad bosses, horrible bosses, and mediocre bosses. I learned something from all of them even if it was something about how I didn't want to treat others in the future.

While it is certainly more pleasant to work for a good or great boss, having a bad boss can be a blessing in disguise. One of my worst bosses couldn't make decisions or plan ahead, so as a very junior person, I had to learn those skills. Sometimes you don't even recognize that you are growing your own skills until years later when you reflect back because things were so frustrating at the time.

Some skills I have learned from having a bad boss include:

  • Learning to prioritize based on business needs.
  • Learning to present options in a way that the best one was chosen
  • Learning to speak up and ask for what I need.
  • Learning to keep track of who said what and being able to provide a timeline of exactly what happened when (you would be surprised at how often even good bosses will need something like this).
  • Learning how to use office politics to prevent someone else from taking credit for my work.
  • Learning how to make both myself and my boss look good.
  • Learning how to cope when things are difficult (work is not the only place this skill comes in handy!).
  • Learning persistence and not to make running away a habit.
  • Learning specific technical skills my boss lacked so that we could get things done. (this is more when you are referring to a team lead type of boss who also has to do technical work).
  • Learning how to ask questions that are more likely to get good answers.
  • Learning how to deal with many different personality types.
  • Learning to look outside my own small group in the organization to get information, help or support.
  • Learning specific technical skills from the bad boss. Just because they aren't great as a boss doesn't mean they are stupid or don't know anything. Sometimes learning to do it his way means learning a lot of things you hadn't considered in the way you wanted to do things.
  • Learning to be adaptable as bosses come and go and you have to change how you work for all of them.
  • Fantastic list! You're completely right, I have had to learn and grow many of the skills you have mentioned as a result of working for him. Thank you for your input! – IndigoJane Jun 24 '15 at 23:18

Just to coalesce my comments into an answer:

You have raised the issue with your manager's superior a number of months ago. He assured you that things would change. Despite repeatedly mentioning it to the superior, nothing has changed.

Really you only have two options:

  1. Stay where you are, hope you can deal with it or that it will get better; or
  2. Understand that if after a five month period of chasing it down, it's not going to change and you are better off looking for a new job.

You stated that the manager's behaviour is well known throughout the organisation. You also indicated that you are unable to change job at this time. If you are constrained to stay and nothing changes despite the situation being known by those who can address it, then you will just have to manage it yourself as best you can until you can leave.

But honestly I would be asking myself what the constraints are on your staying and evaluate if you would in fact be better off looking elsewhere.


It is not your role to fix your manager. You seem to acknowledge this a little, but I don't think you really do in your bones. If you are going to stay in the job then you need to really truly internalize this. It is not your role to fix your manager.

It can most definitely be your role to

  • let your manager know when something he says or does hurts your feelings or makes you feel lessened or disrespected
  • ask for clarification when something your manager says or does appears to contradict something that was said or done earlier
  • ask for information you need to do a good job on something you've been assigned
  • let your manager know when a decision he makes puts a burden on you (such as changing the scope of a project once it's underway, or refusing to move a deadline in response to a change in circumstances)

In all these cases once you give the manager information, such as "I can't start X until you provide me with Y, and if I don't start X today the project will be late", it is the manager's role to make a decision. To manage.

Your best coping strategy is to focus on your work and being great at it. If you feel that your manager's incompetence is making that impossible, then looking for work inside or outside the company is your longer term strategy. You don't explain why you're ruling those out, but I'll accept that you are. When you have a choice between two impossible things (doing a good job under a bad manager, or getting a new job) then you will have to establish which is the more impossible of the two, and do the one you maybe have a chance to do.

"Biting your tongue" is a terrible strategy born from the belief that you really should say something. Why should you? You've told people above you. If you're right, they'll know it. You might not be right. (The majority of people who believe their bosses are threatened by the brilliance and skills of their direct reports are not right about that. And even if you are, the "saying something" strategy isn't working - you've spoken up the chain and nothing happened.) So don't just "not say something", change your attitude to stop thinking that you should be saying something.

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