Dear Mark and Mike,

I have enjoyed your podcasts tremendously and turned several of my friends and family to Manager Tools as well. Thank you.

I've recently joined a startup company where a new manager came in and quickly risen a couple of ranks to VP. He consolidated and now manages my team. Throughout all of these changes, he continuously made decisions that affected me and my projects (such as assigning me to a whole new area of responsibility) without consulting me. Immediately after these occurrences I met with him to explain that I would like him to consult me regarding such decisions. His response was always a sincere apology and an excuse that things are changing very fast

Now the final blow has come. I was out one day and he had an unscheduled meeting with other team members. He followed up with an email to the team and me, "summarizing" the meeting. In his summary he mentioned that we are now restructured into 2 teams and combined areas of my responsibility into one of these teams.

I met with him the following day to clarify the meaning of this change. He insisted that the goal of the change was strictly to increase collaboration among team members. I was skeptical and, sure enough, it became clear within a couple of days that, in fact, the other person on my team assumed responsibility for my projects.

I confronted my boss again 2 days later after his announcement and at this point he confirmed that, yes, he wants to consolidate responsibility and reduce the number of people he manages directly and therefore he made the decision that I am to report to this other team member and that this person assumes final responsibility for what used to be my areas of responsibility. (To clarify, this person is seniour to me age-wise, but we were hired for the same positions and have the same title.)

So, this is clearly a demotion. Since this has happened, I have taken it into my hands to educate myself on office politics and I have made some great progress. Specifically, I am finding the book you recommended extremely helpful - "Winning 'Em Over" by Jay Conger.

This book made me understand that, given some time, I can build back up and improve my position. However, I am wondering if you could suggest some short term ways of remedying this specific last change. The change is very recent and I feel that I may still be able to take some action to reverse it's effects. For one, I have considered setting up a meeting with the founder of the company who my boss reports to directly.

I appreciate any feedback on this. Thank you in advance.

Mark's picture


Thanks for your post. Surely the last few weeks have not been great ones for you. Glad you're thinking about actions and options.

I don't know for certain that you can go to the founder, as I don't understand the structure of the firm (how many layers between you now and previously), or how long you have known him/her, and the culture that would affect this.

Nevertheless, even not knowing those things, my bias is to say yes, it's a reasonable step to take.

There are two other things you can do.

First, the ultimate recourse is to deliver exceptional results. There's so little discussion of this these days, but all the career management and mentoring and self-development and relationship building pale in comparison to doing your job so well everyone notices.

Secondly, you can have a different conversation with this fast track manager. He has positioned what has happened to you as all about him, and has offered you no feedback. It is nevertheless reasonable for you to get on his calendar and to ask for feedback, along the lines of "what did you see, or what did I do, that caused me to end up demoted?" He may compare you to your "peer" (better word: contemporary), or perhaps worse, he may demur completely (which is lame but highly routine.)

Work hard, talk to the founder (perhaps), and ask for feedback.

That's what I would do.


ambitious's picture

Mark - I appreciate your time and advice.

You're right - the past few weeks have not been very enjoyable for me, but the overall experience is highly valuable. Sometimes difficult times like these are required in order to grow to another level, which is what I'm going through. The amount of insight I am acquiring in the past couple of weeks (due to deliberate learning and reading) is incredible and empowering. I could not possibly regret this experience and I don't. :)

Thank you.