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Hi There - I'm a recent outside hire in the role of Manager. My boss is the Director of the department and before he hired me he reorganized the department so that everyone who used to report to him now report to my position. I've been here a few months and I'm getting the impression that this change in structure was not his idea but his boss' who saw that he didn't have good supervisory skills. 

The Director has been with the organization for a number of years and has institutional knowledge that I don't have yet, so that combined with the fact that he used to be their supervisor have led to a tendancy for my directs to go straight to him to ask him for direction. When they have come to me to ask, I have suggested that we go to the Director together to get the answer, but more often than not they just go straight to him, which leaves me out of the loop so I don't know what they are doing and am not picking up the institutional knowledge myself. The Director also tends to go straight to them to Direct them to do things rather than going to me as well. 

I've listened to the podcasts entitled "My Boss skips me" and "Never step out of the middle" and I'm trying to employ the advice there, but asking my staff to let me know when they get direction from the Director seems like overkill at times when the direct and I both know the he's the one that will have to be asked anyway. AND...it's a small number of staff with a somewhat "flat" heirarchy, which makes giving them direction like "Don't ask the Director for direction without asking me first," just seems like overkill. How do I ensure that my directs are telling me when they are getting direction from the Director that he initiates and also break them of the habit of going directly to him for direction? 

GuidoVivaldi's picture

I'm in a similar position currently, and I've found it helpful to frame my interest in being involved in terms of my need to begin gaining the institutional knowledge.  I have found it easier to ask to be a fly on the wall than to ask to be in control, and it also gives me an opportunity to build relationships by emphasizing my appreciation for the institutional knowledge I've gained.  As I have gained more instiatutional knowledge, it's easier to take control of a situation organically rather than insisting on my inclusion.

You might also think about DiSC here.  My equivant of your "Director" is a High S, so "taking control" can seem too assertive to him, but "being included" is a easy sell.  Sounds like you may be dealing with more of a High D, which might be more of a struggle, but you may be able to emphasize your need to aquire knowledge in order to deliver results.

firebelly's picture

Thanks for the reply - my boss is an S / C so good advice to ask to be included. 

US41's picture

Her’s what I did: 

  • Take it slow. It takes time to be in a new position 
  • follow the advice above about being included in everything
  • Give positive feedback when they include you
  • after some time, start negative feedback about leaving you out
  • set expectations for being included in your One on ones repeatedly
  • By now, most are helping you and only one or two are still resisting you. If it continues and is malicious, then you may have to sit someone down pretty hard and have a talk about professional behavior followed by more coaching and feedback hoping they do well, but processing them out if they do not

Give it time. Don’t jump to coclusions.