BLUF: Senior Management and Executives do not understand basic business and professional principles.  What do I do?

I started my new job at a new company about a year ago.  Small company (~65 ppl). I immediately saw basic problems, but not the causes.  Over this past year, I've been able to identify where (who) a lot of the problems originate.

Examples of the issues:

  1. The largest contracted project in the company's history was signed, and it did not include a Statement of Work, just a list of deliverables.  When I saw the contract just prior to the signing ceremony, I brought this issue up to the COO and CEO.  Their response was "Why do we need a Statement of Work?".  They were baffled.
  2. Our VP of Product Management does not productize anything other than our Software product.  Our products include hardware, OS, software and services.  Due to his background in academia and in software development, he does not understand the need to standardize our solutions, create Business Cases, etc.
  3. Our Director of Customer Service, who has ~15 employees, spends two thirds of his day troubleshooting technical issues instead of Director-ing.

These issues, and more, directly impact my role as Project Manager.  My boss has been advised of my concerns and frustrations, and he shares them.

I'm at a loss of what approach to take.  Should I leave?  Should I try to influence diagonally up?  Should I do nothing, and just grin and bear it?  Any other ideas?

Thanks for any replies.

tabitharizzio's picture
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Sounds like you're experiencing a shift from working in a larger company to now a smaller one.

If processes & standardization are dealbreakers for you than perhaps you may want to seek employement in a larger company where such items are "norms".

Or perhaps look at some of the processes/standardization you seeing lacking and see whether an implementation of a large scale system would truely help in your new environment.

While relationships are important in every company of every size, smaller organizations may amplify that critical need more so.

Project management in a smaller company may be more about the relationships than the "red tape" of a project.

How effective is a use case document if the person building it and needing it is the same person and most likely the need of such item in the future only scales to < 5 people?


wwhite613's picture

You've nailed the source of the issue - I started my career in a large, process oriented company and am now in a company of less than 100 people.

Thanks for the reply. 

pucciot's picture
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Learn to laugh at yourself and Appreciate the Differences


I've had similar culture shock when getting a new position.

I recommend a few things- 

1 - Start a Delta File -- Basically a File of anything that you would change if you were the Boss -- Once you write it down you will feel better and it will be off of your conscious mind

2 - Write down your frustrations too -- I went back to notes that I made after a few years and remember how much I struggled psychologically while adjusting.  But, I got through.

3 - Look for the positive things you like about your new environment.  The lack of Red Tape ?  The Speed at which changes can be made ?  Free Coffee ?   Boss takes everybody to lunch ?   Whatever they do differently than where you were before,  learn to appreciate them.

4 - Come to work and watch as if you were on a TV SitCom.  You are in the classic "Fish out of Water" tale.   The guy from the big city, big corporation, who has to adjust to the little company country bumbpkins.  Learn to find the humor in your situation -- Your way is not the only way.  You might think it is more effective and more efficient --- OK -- so maybe this company is OK with less effective and less efficient -- for now.

5 - Patience - if they don't start acting like you think they should right now -- what terrible thing will befall them ? If it is not life threatening or will completely illegal or might sink the company in the next year --- then have patience.  All organizations have their own pace of growth and change.

As this company gets bigger and they start to experience the problems of getting bigger you can be there with your experience to make suggestions...  but don't try to solve problems they don't see or have yet.


Yes, build the relationships first !  When you build the relationship and the trust of co-workers they may start coming to you for help in those areas.  

6 - Make your Boss Happy. What are you Boss' goals ?  What has s/he asked you to do -- today, this week, this month.  Make the Boss happy one day, week, month at a time.  And everything else will follow soon enough.

Good Luck



PS : Good Movies to watch in this context

* New in Town

* Gung Ho




wwhite613's picture


Thanks for your detailed response.  What I take as the theme of your response is that you recommend that I consider my own perspective.  As one of the reasons I submitted the original post was to allow me to "vent", I agree.

I will take action on your recommendations.