Dilemma - How can my team and I be noticed as our ‘rubbish’ boss takes the plaudits?

The directors of an agency I work for think my boss is great – the problem is he’s not. He takes all the plaudits for the team’s efforts without bringing anything himself. No matter how much hard work we all put in, he always takes the glory. I don’t feel as if I can go above his head, as this might be seen as whingeing, but how do I get past my rubbish, ineffectual boss?

Mark Jackson, senior planner/buyer, MediaCom

Getting past your "ineffectual boss" is not as hard as you may initially think.

Eventually even the best "blaggers" are uncovered – be it on a one-to-one basis with his respective boss or a meeting to the board, he will come unstuck.

Taking the credit for other people's hard work is often the easy way out for inexperienced managers. He obviously does not know as much about your specific clients as the rest of the team. To compensate, instead of being professional and becoming closer to his clients, he is embarrassed to ask and hence alienating the rest of the team by taking all the applause.

It is a problem and one that is difficult to overcome. All I can suggest is you make more of an effort to lead internal meetings, especially when his superiors are involved. Going even further, depending on the nature of your agency, you could "cc" his managers on to initial work/ideas you summarise for him. Adopting these ideas ensures everyone is clear on the true source of the work.

A good boss should be pushing his colleagues forward and making sure his team receive the praise it is due. There is no "I" in team and the sooner he realises, the sooner his and your careers will develop.

The support team at Nabs, a charity for the marketing communications industry

If your boss is as "rubbish" and "ineffectual" as you say, then it's likely that your directors don't think he is that great and have sussed that the hard work put in is actually a team effort.

Do you think your boss is aware that he is not giving you enough recognition for all the hard work you are doing for him?

Perhaps this is something you should be raising with him directly. Scary as it may be, you should go and talk to him about how you are feeling. Prepare what you are going to say first, stay calm and try to keep the conversation professional, rather than personal. Keep some notes of the date and the discussion, as you may want to refer back to them in your next formal appraisal.

We'd also recommend that you look for positive ways to promote yourself in the agency and develop relationships with other senior people to get yourself noticed. You could volunteer to work on a pitch or why not become a Nabs rep?

Richard Templar, author of The Rules of Work and The Rules of Management

Takes the glory? And so he should. He is, after all, the boss and he didn't spend the last few decades clawing his useless way to the top only for you and the rest of your team to take all the credit. That's the harsh reality and quite naturally you will think it sucks – and it does. There is no excuse for a bad boss, but there are lots of them around. Now, you say you don't want to go above his head, but how can we do this without it being seen as "whingeing"?

Well here are a few tips: compile a report that highlights a problem area (with a solution) and send it to your boss, with your name prominently on the front cover and throughout it – discreet but prominent, if you know what I mean.

If he wants to implement the corrective changes he has to use your report with your name on it. Taking your name off would just be too blatant even for him. He'll more than likely have to show it to his boss and thus your name and credit is then known.

Find excuses to have to talk to his boss – you don't have to whinge about anything. In fact, you should be bright and very "up".

Write articles for your company newsletter – assuming you have one – again outlining some problem area with a solution.

This will be seen by his boss and their boss too. You'd be surprised who reads company newsletters.

Get him to trust you and then slowly relieve him of all power and authority. When his boss has a question, your boss will be obliged to ask you, as you'll be the keeper of the facts and figures.

Kenneth Lathane, managing director, Lathane Carreras

This is indeed a tricky one, the problem being that the directors have to show faith in the manager and so even if you did go above his head the situation would only worsen.

Really, the only answer is to keep going, recognise that this is a symptom of insecurity on behalf of the boss and hope that sooner or later he will get found out. The last recourse is to find another job outside the agency and then resign to the directors and this will give you the opportunity to communicate why you want to leave.


I am a 31-year-old agency display sales rep with seven years' experience in national broadsheet newspapers.

I've recently been considering a move to "the other side" – yes, I am interested in working for a media agency. I'm wondering how I would go about changing my career. I am wondering if this is a realistic ambition at my age and with my experience and whether I am likely to have to take an initial pay cut. Should I approach the top-20 or look to join a smaller agency first?

My immediate manager thinks I'm doing really well, but another manager has suddenly turned on me. She attacks me in meetings, humiliates me in front of people and criticises me in e-mail messages, which she then copies to other people. I've seen her do this before. Every few months she picks on someone until they crack under pressure and resign.

I've spoken to my boss, but, as she is his superior, he said there is little he can do. How can I deal with this or is it best just to resign?

Send your advice to amanda.lennon@haynet.com.

And if you have a dilemma, we'll try to help solve it. Simply e-mail us and we'll keep your name confidential.

Have your say...

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Media Week Jobs
Search for more media jobs


Watch the first YouTube clip, nine years on

Watch the first YouTube clip, nine years on

This week marks the ninth anniversary of the first clip uploaded on YouTube, a 19-second video of YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim at the San Diego Zoo.

Yahoo hosts exclusive X-Men: Days of Future Past films

Yahoo hosts exclusive X-Men: Days of Future Past films

Yahoo has partnered with film distributor Twentieth Century Fox to create a global content hub on its Yahoo Movies platform for new release 'X-Men: Days of Future Past'.

My Media Week: Stuart Taylor

My Media Week: Stuart Taylor

This week, Stuart Taylor, chief executive, Kinetic UK, is inspired by the new tech coming to market and how wearables and smart cities will impact on OOH.


Get news by email