Hi folks,

I'm in a quandry. I've made 3 sideways moves in the last 5 years. The second of those was basically a career path change. The third was relocating but doing the same job in the new career.

I'm quite happy in what I do now but it is very 'exposed' to the CEO and the nature of it (I have no directs but have to co-ordinate the activities and training of 300+ employees) means that the 'exposure' is generally negative (this is probably going off topic so I'll stop this part now - but you get the flavour - I get things done on persuasion, charm, credibility whatever you want to call it - I have very little role power). The negative exposure is kind of grinding me down (the CEO is a high C and the nature of my role is so broad that it has to be 80/20 (I'm a high C too and man has it been hard to learn that pareto rule and be comfortable with it). So, the tiniest things which, really, really don't matter that much get me hit over the head with a hammer from the CEO. And, yes, try and influence as I might, the hammer still falls!

One of the VP's has approached me for a position in one of his teams - since the team leader is struggling to produce work in scope and to time from his team as he has so many directs and still has to manage technical work, and is struggling to leave the office almost, so no interfacing is getting done. Basically the VP wants me to use my skills in working with people and my technical knowledge to help the team deliver - 'unlock potential' was used as a turn of phrase.

The role would be working 'with' (but as a subordinate) to the current team leader. The sweetner was basically this is aimed to be a 'positioning' move for when an appointment as a team leader comes available.

I've spoken to the VP (I used to work for him a few years ago so we know each other well - he really helped me to develop back than - and he knows what I'm capable of) and he paints a different picture of what he thinks the team needs than the team leader himself - who basically wants me to co-ordinate some of his people who work on discrete packages of work. ie. the VP sees me as a deputy ( a TL in-waiting) , the team leader sees me as reducing day to day management of 5 of his directs (trying to solve an overload problem by throwing someone else at it - meaning he just has another direct!).

The killer is the team leader has told me he doesn't want to relinquish the reporting/accountability lines to those 5 directs who I'd be 'co-ordinating'.

What I need your opinions on, is whether I'm seeing too many problems in not having people report directly to me - ie the formal accountability for those peoples actions will bypass me. If it helps explain things - the 5 people would be agency staff rather than company employees. In terms of managing I guess this isn't much different as contractors are humans too right :wink: But, I just kind of feel the TL doesn't want to let go - when what he needs to do is exactly that - let go and let someone else manage along with him.

Having been in this situation before(routine co-ordination of a team but all the team not formally reporting to me) I found it very frustrating and ultimately undermining my position when, although I effectively managed people day to day, the people just didn't class me as their 'boss'. I'm not on a power trip, as my career change taught me that role-power is such a small part of managing, BUT I feel that to build those relationships and to effectively implement change in the way things are done I have to have the authority to make those changes. i certainly CAN get people to do stuff without the authority (my current role) but that's not in a day-to-day basis with a small team. I don't think it's scalable.

My current next step is to arrange a meeting with the VP and Team Leader so I'm ensuring the VP and TL understand what they would want me to actually do as at the moment it's just not coherent (I suspect the VP wants me to have the authority and wider 'deputy' role rather than being packaged off to one side like the TL wants me to be)

any help or advice would be very welcome folks!


asteriskrntt1's picture

Wow... there is a lot going on here.

The first thing that jumps out at me is why you, who are not working for the VP or the TL, have to put a meeting together to ensure that the two are on the same page?

The second thing is, if the VP and the TL are not on the same page, they have serious communication issues about company goals etc. They need to get those straightened out long before you can be any help.


dhkramer's picture

There are only 5 directs; there isn't a need for two team leaders.

I suspect the VP is grooming you to replace the current team leader.

Not really relevant, however. Take the opportunity to show your strengths, but try to clarify with the VP when you will become a team leader, and then nice the current team leader to death. Over report, make sure you transmit everything with a cover letter or email.

Make sure you demonstrate how you will manage. One on ones seems like a good first step, then ease your way into some peer feedback, and coaching.

It's an audition. Act as if.

TomW's picture
Training Badge

That's a lot of back story... I'm not sure I see what your question is.

You will get the best responses if you ask questions, not just give a situation and say "any advice?". Without knowing your goals and intentions, the situation alone is not enough for us to advise on.

AManagerTool's picture

What Tom said!

You have high visibility to the CEO and for some reason, you think it's better to report to a VP?

I am so confused.

Fitch's picture


folks thanks for the comments above - I think I need to clarify.

I'm being offered a position in another department - the VP for that department sees me as being a 'deputy' to the Team Leader who isn't coping with the number of directs he has (12) and so the team's performance is suffering. The team leader however seems to want me to co-ordinate a discrete group of his directs (all agency staff) - but they would not be working under my authority - he would maintain the formal direct report.

My goal is to be a team leader. I see the role being offered as a stepping stone in experience (by gaining directs, deputising for the TL when necessary, helping to manage the business aspects of the team etc), but as the TL is offering I'd literally be gaining nothing over what I do now where I have no directs but co-ordinate a lot of people.

Problem Statements (my concern):
1) If I take the role on the way the Team Leader sees me as working am I bound to fail because he's not releasing control (in fact he's just getting another direct in effect)? Does the fact he's giving me agency staff rather than employees to 'coordinate' have any relevance (ie do you think he's being protectionist/feeling threatened)?


ps The exposure to the CEO in my current role is grinding me down - currently there's a team leader and a VP in between me and the CEO -but this chain is frequently bypassed - in a negative way - it's always 'pick up the game' style comments. I never get negative feedback via the chain. The new role would follow the more normal chain - via team leader, then VP, then CEO. This wouldn't be the reason for taking the role, but it would certainly be a benefit. I figure there's no point being in the spotlight if it's actually a searchlight that shows the guns where to point.... :P I'm going to talk to my TL and VP about this (especially as my current VP has done my job elsewhere some years ago so understands the situation).

jhack's picture

By the length of your posts, I would never have guessed you were a 'C' :wink:

I suspect your communications issues with the CEO are partly due to your whacking around in the weeds rather than hitting on the main point.

Are you truly interested in the Team Lead role, or are you running away from your current situation, and it's the nearest "port in a storm?" Your next move will make sense only if it's strategic - what is your career goal and how does this move help you get there?

One last thought: as you move up in the organization, along any branch, you'll again be exposed to the CEO. Unless you can establish a good working relationship with him, your career will dead end in this firm.


TomW's picture
Training Badge

[quote="jhack"]One last thought: as you move up in the organization, along any branch, you'll again be exposed to the CEO. Unless you can establish a good working relationship with him, your career will dead end in this firm. [/quote]

This is SO important. Any time your CEO hears your name, you really want the first thought to go through his head to be something to the effect of:
"I really like Fitch."
"Fitch really gets things done"
"Fitch really knows how to solve impossible problems"
"Fitch really knows hot to get a message across"

The only way to get that is if you succeed in areas that the CEO thinks are important.

Fitch's picture

John and Tom,

thanks for those comments - they've made me think about things.

Yep, I do want the team lead role. I see the opportunity (not as team lead but as 'deputy' (if that's what it is) as being a big stepping stone.

The advantage is, the field I'd be in is something I am utterly confident in, so the 'test' would be in my managing skills rather than the technical parts.

In my current field I have about 500% over-work-load of which about 150% really needs to-be about 50% 'right'. I do about 120% of it to the 60% quality mark. And I like to think it's the right 120% of the work. ie I'm working at risk of the 30% I choose not to get done.

As a C this is a tough philosophy.

The post being offered would require the 100% quality to be the principal factor, and yep, I can deliver - and get people to deliver on that. The CEO at my old place (and in a technical capacity) I'm sure would've said 'Fitch will do this right, and when we need it'. Now in my current post I think he'd say 'I'm not sure he's putting in the quality' because he just sees the low quality in areas that really just (seriously!) don't need it. And as a D - well, he ain't matter how much!

But thanks guys, for making me look at it from the perspectives you have given.


Fitch's picture

I think I get the subtlety of 'succeed in the areas the CEO thinks are important'.

ie. they may not actually be important but it's his perception.

I keep a risk log - which includes tasks and areas of focus for 'risk to self' which basically are tasks I do that I know the CEO will be interested in - some of which aren't that important in the grand scheme of things. I don't take a lot of time on those things but they're the big flags that get done 100% and get exposure. I guess it might be figuring out better what he's interested in - but, as I'm just getting time with him for neg feedback, that's pretty tough.