OK, need some other opinions. I took a new job with a better title and a little more money, went from non-profit to for-profit, from hospital to private practice, and it was closer to my hometown. The problem is that me and boss are not on the same page. My title is Director of Operations and my previous title was Director but of a specific clinical department. The interview went well and it was said the biggest issues to fix were moral and physician / patient process problems, which is what I do well. It was also stated that this was not a desk job and there would late hours. I spent then first month observing every job that is within the clinical area, which was my boss's choice. I have 6 direct reports that have about 120 directs. I have been there almost 3 months but 2 month into the job she tells me that I am not meeting expectations and that managers never leave before 5pm, I need to take work off my 6 directs, and MD's need to see me out in the clinical area more. I was surprised but thanked her for the feedback and created an action plan on what I was going to do to correct it. I stuck to the plan and things seemed to improve for couple of weeks. During that time, she came back to me and made a comment about me being the first out the door at 5pm. I asked what time she wanted me there until because at least 2 days a week I am there until 5:30 and did she want me to do that each day. She said that I did not have to stay to 5:30 each day but did not clarify beyond. Later I made a small accounting mistake, and we almost paid a $150 (we do 130K in charges a day) bill that we should not have. She pulled me and the controller into her office and talked to me about the mistake and it was clear that I was confused but she made it seem as if I were being less than truthful to someone in the accounting dept because I miscounted the number of invoices and told them I only received 4 instead of 5. Last week, she told me again that I was not meeting expectations and that I need to focus on fixing the MD's issues and the staff feels that I am purely administrative and don't see me and they also feel that I need to take more work off of my directs. I was shocked as my directs were telling me that things were lots better and the MD's were not saying anything but good to me. I will take some of the blame after listening to the "I hate my new job" podcast, and maybe thought this job would be similar to my last and was wrong. While meeting with her, I made the comment that maybe it would be of benefit it I actually did the entry level staffs job so that I understood how so that I could jump in if needed and to fully understand, She said that is what I should have been doing during the first month. No one told me that as I thought I was only observing them, not that I needed to do the work. I am really confused, so I need to do my directs work, do the staff's work, and my work. Seems like every week she has something else that is not going well. I look forward to your thoughts and if it is me then let me know that it is me please, thanks.

pucciot's picture
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Did you replace a previously long standing employee ?

From your description it sounds like you have replaced a long standing person who worked his (her) way up from the bottom.  He knew every job. Did every job. Worked his way up to manager with his expertise power.  He was the answer man. Always roaming the halls helping with answers, advice, and pitching in.

This is my guess.

Your boss really may not know what made him successful.  Your boss may not know know exactly how to help you perform, just only knows what she wants to see and she isn't seeing it.

If this is close, perhaps you could ask your directs and the Docs on floor what they really liked about the previous person.

Let them know that you are not that person, but, if each of them could tell you one or two things what they thought made him successful, then you could try to focus on those things.

You might be on the right track by learning the little jobs of your directs.  Get the micro- and macro- view.


Addtional things to consider :

The idea about taking work off of your directs does sound a little suspicious.  I wonder if they have been challenged enough in the past ?  Did the previous person leave because they were overwhlemed and failed to delegate ?  Maybe your directs are unhappy with the expansion of their duties that the previously open postiion thrust upon them, because they are not used to expanding their capacity.  They are happy you took the job and want to give the work back to your position.

And if you are getting positive comments to your face, perhaps it is only one or two directs and other doctors that "have the ear" of your boss.  A few people are unhappy and their complaints are louder squeaky wheels in the boss' ear.

Your reaction, however, is still the same.  Perform and earn the trust of your Boss.

And if you can find out who those people are, then make sure that you develop a good working relationship with them.

Good Luck


supertech1979's picture

Actually it was only bad feedback that CEO, directs, and MD's had to say about the previous person in my role.The directs sound like no one has been successful in this position yet. Scary ! I asked why the position was open during the interview and they all told me that she wasn't around and available much. I have made it a point to be at work til 6pm each night but there seems to be new issues pop up that were not issues before. I feel that it is a culture issue but wanted other opinions. What's your thoughts knowing this new info?


Thanks in advance.

Smacquarrie's picture

It sounds like the CEO may not know what (s)he is looking for in someone to fill this position. It seems like they feel they need a jack of all trades who can step into any role short of that of an MD and perform at a high level of accuracy and speed. Based on what you have said, I am not sure that anyone will be successful in this role.
Learning about the tasks and roles of your directs is a good start. Find out what they do and see if there is a way to better distribute the work. You may have an opportunity to adjust some of those roles so that they better line up with their strengths and weaknesses. Let them do what they are good and help them to collaborate on things where they need to improve their own repertoire.
Once you get a better understanding of what they do, you should be able to dig in and help them improve their processes and relate to them better on a professional level to see what is needed.

supertech1979's picture

I think you may be correct about nobody being able to be successful in the job. One of my directs (supervisor) came and was talking to me about various issues. She was expressing frustration and some how she started talking about her position and my position and how our CEO wanted my position to know all the rest of positions, She thought it was impossible also. She said the two previous people that had this job in the current structure were not successful either. I asked what they did that went well. She said one did nothing correct and the other could only do some of the supervisor work and that was all. Neither stayed more than a year and half. One got canned and the other left on her own when she seen the writing on the wall. I asked for some feedback on my performance as compared to them and she said it was much better than them but had concerns that anyone can be successful in the job. I just let her do all the talking. She talked about the grayness between the supervisor role and director position. She said one of the previous directors and her had talked about not knowing where one of them started and the other ended. The director felt treated as a supervisor, which is how I feel.

On another not, is it possible I am having problems adjusting to for profit from non for profit or big organization to small organization?


Thanks for the help so far. 

pucciot's picture
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OK my instincts were wrong.

So It does look like you are on the right track.   Keep learning about what your directs and peers need.  You are a Servant Leader.

Manager Tools may be your best bet for success. One-on-ones, feedback, delegation, coaching.

Nothing that you have said so far indicates any differences in culture or the for-profit not-for-profit dynamic.

It may very well be, but you haven't left any examples that show this.

Just planning to stay late seems like a good plan for a while.

Are there any holiday parties coming up ?  Use them to build some relationships.

It does not sound like you are in an easy situation.

Professional Organizations may also be a good place to look at.   Find a peer with a similar job - see if your professional organization offers mentors.  Here is one example :  Medical Group Management Assoc.

Perhaps go for the certification :

( or maybe this one )

You mentioned other managers at your org.   Are there management team meetings ?  Do your peers in the organization get together ? Or are they members of any professional associations ?

These are the kind of leads you may wish to follow-up on.

I wish you the best.


jrb3's picture
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My first impression here is that your hiring is a hidden call for clarity for the organization (or at least for your boss).  You're stepping up into Director of Operations, responsible for 120+ people, yet you're expected to be *doing* work done by front-line people?  You're brought in specifically to bring up morale and improve service, yet you're being chided for looking around and seeing what current morale and service are?  You're meant to answer for results of your slice of the organization, yet only given guidance on your inputs not your outputs nor on how they serve the organization?

If no-one has been successful in this position so far, especially if you're third or later, consider the job might be impossible as it stands.  (Drucker phrased it as "a man-killer" job.)  Process-improvement and/or service-improvement as a job focus, in my experience, tends to be a staff-type position;  managing managers (and keeping a village working :-) a line-type position.  These two have very different reasons for being.

So, thought experiment time:  Split them.  I'd expect the staff-type would report to the line-type, and each would have enough to keep at least one full-time person busy.  You wear both hats now;  if these were to be two actual positions, which would you take, and is there someone in your current organization who can wear the other?  For argument, let's say you take up the executive hat.  Great, you're responsible that all the work get done;  find the people (including one to put under the other hat) and shuffle the workload so that is so.  You having to do any front-line work shows where your department has a front-line hole to be filled.  You're also responsible that your department's work brings the organization to its goals.  You get to start talking with your boss about results, strategy, and growing your people, perhaps supplemented by informal advice/guidance from the CEO and "cousins" in the organization (directs of your boss' peers).

Executives and managers don't get to "stop representing the organization" at any time of the day.  Quoting Mark and Mike from the same-named podcast, "Welcome to They".  Double-check with your boss about expectations of availability, both to her and to your department;  come to agreement and stick with it.  It needs to serve you well, not just everyone else.  I know I've often gone home earlier than usual because I wasn't handling stresses from excess chaos well -- cured by spending some extra time daily in reining in the chaos with careful procedure changes.  Maybe that's playing in here for you.

Enough of my rambling ... maybe this prods something useful ....

mjpeterson's picture

First, a manager’s job is not to take up work from their directs.  Help prioritize, find ways to improve, but not take up their work, except in some emergency situation.  It would be far better for you to find how to get 10% more out of each of your directs instead of taking 10% of their work. 

Becoming an expert in what the 120 people in your group do, so you could do their job is a mistake.  You need to understand what they do and how they bring value, but not be able to do their job.  A construction manager doesn't need to know how to run every piece of equipment, or be able to step in for every ironworker, carpenter, pipefitter, electrician, rigger, insulator, rod buster, etc. 

Have you asked your boss how your success will be measured in this role?  What are your priorities and the associated metrics that you are expected to meet? Is there a list of specific issues the MDs have?  Do you have a plan to address the most critical?  

mmcconkie's picture

It sounds like your boss doesn't know what he wants, or at least isn't communicating it effectively. There is a great CT cast called Boss One-on-Ones ( If you update your boss weekly your boss will at least be able to build a relationship with you and hopefully start to like you. Also, as you give him weekly updates, it gives your boss the chance to offer some feedback if necessary (it sounds like your boss isn't very good and will likely give you terrible feedback for the first few months - power through it!). As your relationship improves and your boss has the chance to modify your tasks, I expect that to clear up most of your issues. Good luck!