A boss, although the symbol of success and authority in the workplace, can be a devastating disadvantage to a team if that person is "bad." What does it mean to be a bad boss? Maybe they are inefficient at running the team or department, they do not value all the members of the team as they should be, or they have a bias or prejudice towards any member of the team. Short of quitting the company or termination from the position, there are several methods for dealing with a bad boss. How you're going to try and manage the boss is going to be different depending on your position in the company, whether you work for HR or you work directly underneath this individual.
What makes them a bad boss?
In every one's busy, on-the-go lives no one has the time to take a closer look at an individual far beyond their initial impression. Perhaps the boss is preoccupied with some unfortunate issues. Maybe he has a medical issue or a family member has such a problem. Or perhaps he is in financial trouble, overly stressed, or lost a loved one recently. Whatever the reason, knowing about it and handling it has the potential to remedy the situation for all parties affected.
For someone working under the bad boss
It is possible for a once great boss to degrade over time. The boss loses the desire to even care about what his employees are doing. This could lead to employees slacking off, taking extended breaks, producing work with less quality in it, etc. For someone working directly under the boss, it may seem like you have no real influence on this individual but you would be surprised. Allowing yourself to fall with the boss is only going to make the situation that much worse. Continue doing the best job you can do even if your co-workers are slacking off. It may seem like wasted effort but in the end, it will be beneficial. If possible discuss with the boss your concern that at one time he was wonderful and something does not seem right. If you work directly with this person and are too afraid to talk to them personally then put in a complaint to the HR department and let them handle it from there.
The HR department can carry the most weight
The first step is to never dismiss any complaints from employees reporting that the boss may not be doing a good job. Address them all equally and seriously. Discuss with this individual his recent actions because he may be unaware that his performance is sub par. If the boss is aware that his performance is slipping but is having a hard time getting ahead of the situation then building up the individual's strengths rather than critiquing their weaknesses can increase their confidence to be able to do a better job.
How I would personally deal with a bad boss
Sometimes a preventative measure is the best way to avoid an awkward situation. When applying for a job I would research exactly who I would be working for and see whether it would be a decent fit. A toxic working environment can kill any passion felt in a position. If trapped in a situation where I have to directly deal with this individual, I would try and rally the troops so to speak to not let his incompetence make the whole team suffer and prove we can succeed in the worst of times.