6 Tips for Dealing With a Passive Boss

Don’t give your boss’s passivity a pass.

Boss staring out the window, or relaxing at the end of a rough day
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3. There isn't always power in numbers. Gathering three or four equally frustrated colleagues and heading into your boss's office may come off as conspiratorial and/or interventionist. Instead of exiting the meeting reformed, he or she may come out searching for the "ringleader," Tulgan notes.

Between getting other employees on board and the unpredictability that comes with a myriad of voices, the powwow approach could prove less effective. "In most circumstances, it's going to be hard to get everyone on the same page and you have no idea how that conversation's going to play out," he says.

4. Frame it as a desire to lend a helping hand. When pointing out the passivity, an employee should present the lack of communication as a hindrance from fully feeling helped. "You have to start with, 'Here's what's in it for you, boss,'" Tulgan says, adding that if you ask for more of his or her time, a manager will be able to "delegate more work to [you]."

5. But don't hesitate to voice your needs. While you want to be unselfish in your approach, don't shudder from pointing out your needs in the areas of feedback and clarification. "Approach the leader and [focus] more on yourself, not them," Barsade says, adding that you should "[ask] for what you need" and avoid harshly detailing what's wrong with them in doing so.

[Read: When Should You Go Over Your Boss' Head?]

6. Let the higher-ups handle it. Your boss may be a great person, making the task of pointing out his or her flaws that much harder for you and your co-workers. If aversion is office-wide, reach out to someone who's higher up in the pecking order (if such a person exists). "Sometimes you have to go to the boss's boss. If this person is so asleep at the switch," Tulgan says.