• Empty suits are executives only in title, not in capabilities
  • Manage empty suits to minimize your frustrations & get benefits
  • Play it smart and you’ll win in the end
You’re absolutely fucking dumbfounded.

The executive leader of your department is fumbling through their presentation, which by the way, was put together by one of their direct reports - because you know they don’t know how to use Powerpoint.

And it’s the worst kind of presentation method. They’re just reading the text of each slide, word for word. It’s robotic, boring and shallow. They’re just a talking head, pointing to each of the bullets.

It gets worse though. And, you can see this train wreck happening right in front of your eyes.

The question and answer session starts. This is where everything falls apart.

When somebody asks a basic question about the project or program, they simply can’t answer it. They end up giving some vague bullshit answer peppered with stupid ass business cliches.

It goes on like this for every question. You’re mentally screaming inside, “Shut up, shut up, shut up!” They’re just digging themselves into a deeper hole.

You and everyone else in the meeting can easily tell that they really don’t have a fucking clue.

What you have here, my friend, is an empty suit.

What Is An Empty Suit?

Even if you’ve never heard of the term, you have one in the company. Every company has at least one. An empty suit is a senior manager or executive who looks the part but doesn’t have the skills or knowledge to back it up.

Often, they strut into meetings and calls as if they are the all-knowing expert who has all the answers, knows all the right things to say, and looks great, but is completely fucking useless in practice. In other words, they can talk the talk but they can’t walk the walk.

If you’ve ever watched TV series “The Office” then you know that Michael Scott, the branch manager, is the quintessential representation of an empty suit. He’s a prime example of a fucking clueless executive that doesn’t know his ass from his elbow.

VIDEO: Michael Scott Once Said
YOUTUBE: Comedy Bites
LENGTH: 8:19
While empty suits may not know much about the business, most are pretty savvy when it comes to playing office politics, with exception to Michael Scott. After all, that’s how most of them got to where they are. It was either that or nepotism and definitely not because of their capabilities.

Whatever way they got to where they are, the bottom line is that they just don’t have what it takes to be a capable leader. They can’t lead, manage or more simply, contribute any meaningful effort that has any positive impact on company goals.

Empty suits are a total drain on company resources and in many cases, they become obstacles that slow down progress. The worst ones seem to revel in their executive powers to constantly second guess subject matter experts and turn into seagull managers that do nothing but shit on projects.

How To Deal With Empty Suits

If you’re having to work with an empty suit, you have our condolences. Working with, or worse, reporting to an empty suit makes work life frustrating as fuck. If this is you, you’re probably banging your head against the wall every day.

Knowing that you can’t fire them, you have to come to terms that you’re gonna have to work with them. The key here is to find ways to minimize the frustration, pain and anguish. And, maybe even use it to your advantage.

Here are a few pointers to help you manage the work stress associated with this. One or more of these tips can help you. Pick and choose the ones that will work for your situation.

Don’t Take Anything Personally

Clueless executives aren’t very good at articulating their thoughts clearly. Often, they can’t explain their thoughts in any kind of logical manner. This almost always leads to them being frustrated and impatient because they don’t realize that they aren’t explaining things well.

This usually results in a situation where they may lash out at you and turn into an asshole boss of sorts. When this happens, you have to remind yourself that this is their way of coping with their shortcomings and it has nothing to do with your capabilities.

Simplify Your Communications

When your empty suit can’t handle dense and complex information, you need to dumb it down - a lot. Simplify your concepts, models, formulas, strategies, presentations and any other explanations that you need to get across into the most basic versions.

Explain it to them like you're trying to explain it to an elementary school kid. The more simple it is, the greater your chances are that they’ll get it and not fuck up.

Be Patient And Keep Cool

Extending the concept from above, you also need to be very patient with your empty suit. You will most likely have to explain things several times over and maybe even in multiple ways until they grasp it.

Having to repeat yourself over and over in different ways will definitely frustrate you to the point where you’re about to lose your shit. But, you can’t. You need to keep your cool.

Document Everything On Email

This is super important. When you have a shit-for-brains executive that is either forgetful or hostile, you need to document everything on email to protect yourself. And when needed, cc and bcc that shit too so that you’ve got other coworkers looped in as witnesses.

It’s critical that you learn to use CYA emails wisely here. Because if you don’t, there’s a good chance that you’ll be thrown under the bus for something that’s not your fault. Nobody is gonna swoop in a defend you. So, you gotta be prepared.

Get On Their Side By Educating Them

There are some situations where you can leverage the empty suit and boost your career. You can do this by getting on their side and making them look good.

The way you do this is by educating them about the business and more specifically, about the functions, responsibilities, products and services that they are ultimately responsible for.

When you help an empty suit become a real contributor and leader, they will be grateful for it. They’ll recognize your expertise and knowledge and this will go a long way when you have your annual performance reviews.

Minimize Your Interactions With Them

If the empty suit is much higher in the organization by several layers, then you can play the avoidance strategy here.

When you’re further down in the hierarchy, you don’t have to deal with the bullshit directly like middle management has to. This is why middle management sucks sometimes.

When you’ve got another buffer layer or two, you can minimize or even eliminate most all interactions with them by having your boss deal with it. After all, they’ve got to manage upward and handle this bullshit so that you can get in the zone and focus on getting shit done.

Get Help From Your Boss Or Others

There’s a good chance that you’re not the only one having to deal with an empty suit. Empty suits at the executive level affect wide swaths of groups and departments.

Seek out others that are having to deal with the same situation. You might find a fellow coworker or even your boss that could provide some advice on how they’re dealing with the bullshit.

Don’t go it alone. Find others that are suffering through this and get their feedback on things.

Venting & Laughing It Off With Others

One really great way to deal with this is by venting at work and even laughing together with your work BFF about how ridiculous they are. Every day will be like a sitcom episode where the most unexpected things actually happen.

When you can laugh it off, that’s a solid signal that you just don’t give a fuck about the empty suit and could care less. This is a good place to be in because mentally, you’ll have the upper hand.

Manage Empty Suits Smartly & You’ll Win In The End

So, you’ve got an empty suit on your hands. Welcome to the club.

Think of this as a new chapter in your “on-the-job” organizational management training. You may think that this is a shitty situation, but it’s really not.

This is an opportunity for you to sharpen your soft skills in dealing with and managing others. And, if you can play office politics right, then you can actually take advantage of the situation and boost your personal brand within the company.

Or alternatively, you can play the other options and steer clear and minimize the amount of stupidity exposure - because ya’ know, stupidity can be contagious too.

Whatever strategy you pursue, just be smart and in the end you’ll win no matter what.

Feel Better,

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