Some months ago I got a new line manager and to be frank I do not think they are up to it. They seem overwhelmed by the workload, constantly miss deadlines and work long hours to catch up. They also seem incapable of saying 'no' to yet more work. I think their health is suffering though they insist everything is okay. To make matters worse they are an old friend and colleague of our head of department. I have spoken up about some of my concerns but nothing has changed. My career development is suffering. What can I do?
This sounds deeply unpleasant for you. However, the most important question for you is 'which bit of this problem do I own?' You do not own the decision to appoint this person, nor can you do a thing about their aptitude for the job or their performance and you will never know all the circumstances of how the appointment was made. Nor can you manage your boss's stress - only he or she can do that.
The only thing you can deal with is your own responses to all of this. Underneath your concern for a fellow human being I sense a lot of anger. It is vital for you to have a boss you respect and you feel let down by what to you was an inexplicable decision to appoint someone whom you believe to be incompetent. Own up to this anger but don't let it get in the way of making a mature judgment about what is going on.
How certain are you that this boss really cannot cope? Accept that your personal development is your own responsibility, just as your career is. A boss has a part to play in coaching and mentoring a team member, but not all are up to the task.
Accepting what we can and can't change is one of the basic human wisdoms. If on steady reflection in say a few weeks' time, you still feel the same, start making exit plans. But no hasty resignations please. It's always easier to get a new job from the safe platform of already having one.
Management coach and director, Management Futures