Bad gut feeling about a new boss

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naturelover
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Bad gut feeling about a new boss

Post by naturelover »

Ever have this feeling?

I met with my new 'boss'. Our organizational structure is nonsensical and confusing, so you technically have to appeal to multiple direct bosses and any number of them can assign work to you, screw you over, be your best advocate, etc.

Anyways the new big 'boss' that is the boss of my bosses seems to want more direct contact with the underlings. I met with him once, and for about an hour later I felt a little gross. Couldn't put my finger on it, but if I would guess, he screams long term corporate crony, who of course, wants to change everything in the organization. I can tell people feel uncomfortable with him, kinda like they are shrinking from authority. The bad news for me is people keep saying 'he is new, he is still learning the way we do things' so maybe he has less influence than I think.

I never spoke to him again after our meeting, but later he throws me under the bus. I confronted him, and he basically weaseled his way out of it.

He seems to want to give me a bunch of work which isn't even in the same function that I'm doing. I am responsible for technical engineering work, but he for some reason wants to make us all into little project managers. He also puts it on me to schedule recurring 'catch ups' with him, and that I should send me my work experience or resume.

Maybe I should give this dude another chance, but my gut has served me well this far. Any tips for navigating this situation? I've been looking for way to change into different departments, so maybe this is my chance. That just takes a looong while here. Maybe he will be the best thing that happened to me as it will finally shove me out of what I am not enjoying anyway. I work from home right now, so wouldn't want to lose that. Maybe I should just shore up the emergency fund in the event I explode and leave. Hah!

ertyu
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Re: Bad gut feeling about a new boss

Post by ertyu »

I'm with "trust your gut." Bide your time, prioritize yourself and look for ways out. Either they will prove unnecessary and you will keep being able to work from home, or you'll be glad you prepared once shit hits the fan. Besides, you never know what your "out" might look like - it might turn out that you're able to work from home at a new position, too.

chenda
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Re: Bad gut feeling about a new boss

Post by chenda »

Also trust your first instincts about people, natural selection has given us an excellent ability to correctly judge people at first glance, because those who didnt ended up dead in the jungle. Unfortunately social protocol leads people to ignore this. Dont. This guys actions have already confirmed your initial judgement. It will get worse. Walk away asap.

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C40
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Re: Bad gut feeling about a new boss

Post by C40 »

There are various strategies possible. Here are some. Many other tactics are possible and there are probably better ideas. I'm not endorsing these, just listing some:

- If you are mercurial like INTJs, it may be possible to intimidate him. Recognize what he fears. Use that. Imply it. Be careful about pushing this, as it takes a certain kind of tact to pull off.

- One of the classic George Kastanza work strategies - look like you are busy and like you are annoyed by how busy you are. Not like you are overwhelmed but rather that you are good at what you are doing and you're doing a ton of shit. You can use this to let him know that "catch up" meetings are not a possibility.

- (could link to above) - the "I'm busy with priorities from another boss" strategy. You can play the problem of multiple bosses against him/them. When one comes to you, you say that you've got these other important priorities from other boss(es). Best if you can get/force this shitty boss to have to go talk to other bosses in order to get you to do something. Meanwhile you might more readily accept requests from the other bosses in order to keep those guys happy (so they will stick up for you if shitty boss complains) and so you actually do have important priorities you must work on. If shitty boss is the boss of the other bosses, this might not work as well.

- Also linked to above - you could do a really good job on work that other bosses request, but do poorly for the shitty boss. This could cause him to just not bother trying to get your help, but could also make the shitty boss look stupid if he complains (and the other bosses all talk you up.. then the bosses wonder what is wrong with the shitty boss)

- Continue not taking crap from him (like how you called it out when he threw you under the bus)


Also, a note - it is really fucking weird for him to ask you to show him your work experience and your resume. That dude is strange.

Lucky C
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Re: Bad gut feeling about a new boss

Post by Lucky C »

You're not there to do what you want to do; you're there to do what your bosses want you to do. Your boss's boss even more so. If you think you aren't supposed to be doing project management tasks but your boss's boss says you are, you are wrong. You cannot change this.

What you can change is how you react to this change. If you don't like project management type stuff due to inexperience, then do it until you get more experienced and you excel at it. If you don't like it because it doesn't fit your personality or interests, keep doing it until it as a best case you learn to like it or as a worst case it becomes the norm and you are indifferent to it.

Changes in your boss and your tasks/projects are random, and if you don't change your mindset you will be subjected to a "random walk" through your career as you go from a good boss to a bad boss or a bad project to a good project or vice versa. Expecting management or work changes that you see as improvements year after year would be like expecting a coin flip to land on heads every single time. You need to deal with the 50% of the time when it goes from good to bad, and running away from it to another department or job that you think would be better might not have much better than a 50% success rate. Being satisfied with whatever work you're given by doing it well, and whatever boss you're given by adapting to them, is a skill that can and should be developed. This is mostly accomplished by doing your best on whatever you're assigned, while working efficiently so you get it done during normal working hours rather than working overtime and burning out. The hard part is the psychology involved with getting yourself to consistently do the best you can and having a good relationship with management without having personal issues with them or the work assigned.

Too many FIRE people see the corporate job and the boss as the enemy but it's a symbiotic relationship. The better job you do for your company and the better you make your boss look, the better off you will be psychologically and financially. I'm speaking from experience of going from your mindset and being mediocre to being one of the most valued members of the team with much higher work satisfaction.

chenda
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Re: Bad gut feeling about a new boss

Post by chenda »

Lucky C wrote:
Thu Feb 27, 2020 7:32 am
You're not there to do what you want to do; you're there to do what your bosses want you to do. Your boss's boss even more so. If you think you aren't supposed to be doing project management tasks but your boss's boss says you are, you are wrong. You cannot change this
No, you're contracted to do certain tasks. If you are asked to do certain tasks outside the remit of your job description, you can and should refuse them.

ZAFCorrection
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Re: Bad gut feeling about a new boss

Post by ZAFCorrection »

Assuming you find some successful way of dealing with this dude, I would ask yourself later if the effort is worth sticking with the job. It's not much of a win if you can survive this dude, but it is sucking up all your extra energy/time. Maybe there is some low effort way of dealing with them, but maybe not.

naturelover
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Re: Bad gut feeling about a new boss

Post by naturelover »

ZAFCorrection wrote:
Thu Feb 27, 2020 11:07 am
Assuming you find some successful way of dealing with this dude, I would ask yourself later if the effort is worth sticking with the job. It's not much of a win if you can survive this dude, but it is sucking up all your extra energy/time. Maybe there is some low effort way of dealing with them, but maybe not.
True. I'd hate to give up my working from home situation though, but if I'm stressed all the time about it perhaps its not much of an advantage anymore. My life is kind of built around my work from home job but maybe it is an opportunity to go back to school or retrain into another field as I've been sick of mine for years.

Alphaville
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Re: Bad gut feeling about a new boss

Post by Alphaville »

Refusing to do things outside your contract might work in a union job, but if you're employed at will, like most professional jobs in the USA, an attitude like that would get your replaced quickly.

Also sabotaging, misbehaving, trying to "scare" them, looking busy, etc will only paint a target on your back, and get you the boot plus a bad reputation. George Costanza also goes back to living with his parents...

Also... why is it weird to ask for a resume you presented originally when hired? Should be on file somewhere anyway. Maybe they want to promote you or put you in another role or maybe he wants to reform the chaotic organization? Maybe he wants to learn about his team? Who knows? Beats getting fired with no warning though.

And maybe (maybe) this could be a good chance for you learn a bit of project management? A good employable skill.

This is all to say it's best to approach your job with a good attitude. I'm not saying you should trust a person that gives you the willies. I'm saying in the job market you're a seller of services and your employer is your customer (buyer). They're not your friend, your parent, your ex, your childhood nemesis, etc. Get your ego out of the equation and keep it professional. Your boss is basically your customer.

If in doubt, maybe talk to HR about what are fair expectations, multiple bosses, etc.?

I don't know what the bad feeling is about specifically. But if there's a sexual harassment/inappropriate attention element, then it's a completely different story.

Anyway, best wishes with this, and hang in there, and maybe start looking for a new job if things continue to feel rotten. I have a software engineer friend who got into trouble with his organization over... a lack of social skills basically, and eventually lost his highly specialized job, and now can't find a new one.

naturelover
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Re: Bad gut feeling about a new boss

Post by naturelover »

Thanks for the advice @Alphaville. I've been struggling to remain positive for awhile as I've probably stayed in the wrong thing for awhile.

In the meantime, I think your thoughts on treating them as a customer is a good idea. Might help me think differently on the situation. As far as project management goes, I'm already fairly skilled at it I just don't like it. On the other hand, there is always much room for improvement in that area.

My area is kind of specialized as well and I'd probably need a retrain at this point. THAT is truly the anxiety producing part.

Scott 2
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Re: Bad gut feeling about a new boss

Post by Scott 2 »

This sort of thing will come up in every job, if you stay there long enough.

What's helped me is to remember they're just another person figuring things out.

PM done well doesn't require a ton of time. If you hate it, there's a good chance you need better systems in place.

Lucky C
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Re: Bad gut feeling about a new boss

Post by Lucky C »

Scott 2 wrote:
Thu Feb 27, 2020 1:33 pm
PM done well doesn't require a ton of time. If you hate it, there's a good chance you need better systems in place.
Exactly and important to remember that schedule, budget, etc. from my experience don't need to be perfect like technical work does. If you miss a tiny mistake in an engineering design that could blow the whole project and cost millions, whereas schedules and budgets are always in flux. I used to be uncomfortable with the smallest schedule responsibility of having to estimate how long it was going to take to complete a task, but it's only an estimate! Just estimate "two weeks" or whatever and then if it becomes clear the next day that it's going to take double, fix the schedule and keep everyone in the loop with a one sentence explanation of why and any impacts. Of course better to estimate on the high side so long as it's not so long of a schedule / so high of a budget that management or the customer has a big problem with it. If you're doing engineering for government contracts an extra 6 months or million dollars here and there on every contract is the norm (probably similar in many commercial industries too).

Again, you need to switch mindsets between the types of work, and it will become much easier:
technical work = detail-oriented, perfectionist, keep revisions to a minimum. Big penalties if you get something wrong!
management work = big picture, don't sweat the small stuff, expect constant revisions. Like Whose Line is it Anyway, the points don't matter!

naturelover
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Re: Bad gut feeling about a new boss

Post by naturelover »

Hm, this thread has changed my mind a little bit on PM work.

CS
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Re: Bad gut feeling about a new boss

Post by CS »

This has been an interesting discussion on project management.

It's been great advice in this thread.

Knowing your own tolerance for idiots helps in planning. If you can't tolerate what another could, then your plans should be different than theirs. For example - I'm reactive and have little tolerance for idiots, so my best bet is an exit strategy. Times I've forced myself to do things I did not like it has not worked out well. My biggest challenge is learning to say No and leaving soon enough.

But if you can play the game without it destroying your blood pressure, a lot of the tips here would be super useful!

Frita
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Re: Bad gut feeling about a new boss

Post by Frita »

CS wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 9:11 am
Times I've forced myself to do things I did not like it has not worked out well. My biggest challenge is learning to say No and leaving soon enough.
Ditto here. Once I had the savings to walk away, my tolerance decreased while my persistence was intact. That irritates micromanaging bosses and toady coworkers alike. It also sets one up to stay too long. Setting boundaries repeatedly is critical with the most important one being able to walk away.

Alphaville
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Re: Bad gut feeling about a new boss

Post by Alphaville »

i wrote a whole thing and it got accidentally destroyed upon login :oops:

i'll try again later...

naturelover
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Re: Bad gut feeling about a new boss

Post by naturelover »

@Alphaville - happy to hear your thoughts!

Alphaville
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Re: Bad gut feeling about a new boss

Post by Alphaville »

I can't rewrite everything but will summarize.

I once tried to escape the idiots, and when I was finally left alone I found my own idiocy staring back at me.

It was a very funny revelation. Humbling, but funny. Sort of like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VImnpErdDzA

Yes, I was "the baddies," by which I mean: I was the problem, ha ha ha. I got rid of the idiots, but my own idiocy had followed me. And then I missed the other idiots who, through cooperation, competition and exchange, had made my life (and each other's lives) better.

Plus-- there's always fresh idiots, no matter where you go. There is no escape really, because we're all idiots--we're all humans with limitations. We have to learn to cope and function better with this condition. (I guess it's a little like the advice you got for project management--people are never perfect, but we can still make it work.)

This is not to say that one must put up with intolerable things. But in every uncomfortable situation we need to analyze first how much we contribute to the situation, and to our own discomfort, and how much facing the discomfort can help us grow. No?

Nomad
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Re: Bad gut feeling about a new boss

Post by Nomad »

Go with your gut, look for another role with a different boss in the same organisation or elsewhere.

naturelover
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Re: Bad gut feeling about a new boss

Post by naturelover »

I'm going to practice caution on this one. Luckily I like people on my current project team but I'm going to proactively look into a different role. I've been wanting a change anyway.

A manager like this is the exception at my company, not the norm, so maybe he will start chafing with others. I have people in my corner on this so that should help.

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