My department recently expanded from 3, to 2, then 6. (In other words, there are four new people and 2 "old-timers" of which I'm one.) Three of the four new people have fit in well with the organization, taking time to not only understand the product but also the political landscape.

The fourth one, not so much. He is my new supervisor, and has been with the organization for a month. After he was here for two weeks, I had a conversation with his boss (who I reported to for three months.) He acknowledge that my new supervisor wasn't fitting in as anticipated. He also acknowledged that it was bad enough that he recognized it as being disruptive to the team as a whole.

As you can imagine, the type of expansion that we've gone through isn't easy. And while I trust the highest guy to do something about the situation, I am having the worst time respecting my new supervisor.

I have 6 years experience with the company and understand the challenges (I work in logistics for a US Army Supplier.) In the four weeks my new supervisor has worked with us, I've fielded countless calls after meetings or emails that are summed up as, "Is this guy for real? Or did I totally miss something?"

The answer always is, no, it's not you, it's him.

Until the situation is cleared up (either through coaching or more extreme measures) how do you recommend dealing with him? He doesn't listen and routinely recaps things wrong, so I'm spending a large amount of time correcting and covering up. (Yes, his supervisor is aware of it. He has been the victim of it.)

I am trying to be pleasant, professional and helpful, but by the end of the day, I really am having a difficult time being civil.

Yes, I'm trying not to let him poke me with the umbrella, but I'm bearing the brunt of this as I am his only direct report.

Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you for reading such a long post.

jhack's picture

What, specifically, is he doing that has led you to conclude that he is a bad fit? What did he do to lose your respect?

Often, our characterizations and judgements cloud what is actually being done. How does his behavior prevent your team from acheiving its goals?


slpenney's picture

Two things:

1) He doesn't hear what people say. During the first few weeks, when someone would explain their role, he would recap what he had heard, and miss it completely. While at first I chalked it up to nerves, he continues to relay instructions from his supervisor wrong (as I was sitting there too and he later told me something different.) He doesn't take notes during these meetings. The two times I have seen him take notes, the task list that he produced had most of the assignments wrong with the wrong deadlines too. This isn't a one or two time or occurrence, but several times a day.

2) He talks over the top of people. He asks a question and before anyone is a quarter of the way through the answer, he starts telling them how he sees it. While everyone likes to think that their problems are unique in the logistics field, they aren't necessarily. But when he interrupts, it seems like he was listening to a different conversation. And when I have tried to say things like, "Good point, did you consider," etc., he still is not addressing the concern that the other speaker has raised. Again, not a once in a while thing, but a constant thing.

Since I have worked with 3 other new to the department and company co-workers, I feel like I've gotten pretty good helping them. I don't believe that it the difficulty with the fourth person is because he is new.

Thanks for your questions, John.

jhack's picture

That's a tough situation. Remember, you can't manage your boss.

Keep clear documentation of what he asks of you and what you do. Avoid being put it a "he said/you said" situation if something goes awry by having documentation of what was said.

Also, have you heard the podcast on effective conversations: It may not solve your issues with this person, but the technique is powerful and useful generally.

Are there clear goals/standards for the group to which you can tie your own performance? Again, make sure that your performance is documented. You can also tie back (in conversation) any issues, tasks, etc, to that shared goal.

Good luck.


HMac's picture

slpenney - sounds like they hired the owner's son!

The advice I give is to try to remember to work with what's inside your own "circle of influence:" how YOU behave with your boss. If you can come at it from the the standpoint that "he's your boss and you want him to succeed" you can use that to help guide your responses. The last thing you want to do is to become a spokesperson for others, as that's outside youir immediate circle of what YOU can do.

ALWAYS consider the setting (public or private?) because you might well find yourself able to give guidance behind closed doors - but NEVER in front of others.

And finally, you mentioned that [u]HIS[/u] boss is aware of his weakness, and the potential it has for negative organizational impacts. That's good - nothing you can or should do about this, other than observe how the organization deals with it.


slpenney's picture

Thank you for the advice and context. I'm going to try a couple of closed door type meetings, as well as listen to that podcast again. I'm sure I'll get a couple of tips from that too.

There are some very clear cut goals that immediately impact the department. Again, I'm encouraged by his supervisor because he has acknowledge my contribution both publicly and privately. In fact, there have been a few instances of delegation that have encouraged me to stick with this instead of looking for a different situation.

It's the day to day involvement and remaining professional that is challenging.

Thanks again.

danielon's picture

the best thing you can do is to be supportive and help him succed in his job, do everything you can to help him, that will look really good on you with your boss´s superior, belive me,

my boss is going to be fire because we have been bought by an american company (monsanto) and iam doing everything i can to help him stay on the job, even if he goes i think that my new boss (he knows iam helping him) will take this into account,

[email protected]

thaGUma's picture

Work with him. Doesn't listen, talks over people ... serious pointy hair syndrome.

Find the magic words - my current boss thinks 'capture' is a good thing. No idea what is being captured or if it will be returned to the wild, but as long as we capture we are doing well. BUT mention the magic word then he takes notice - I can talk and he listens.

There is a lot of manipulation involved. Sounds crude but the behaviours you mention indicate self centred egotist.

mlin's picture


That's a tough spot to be in, because the problems you describe probably affect all areas of your manager's work. I'd think about picking some of his responsibilities that are affected most by his weaknesses, and volunteering to "take care" of those responsibilities for him. Do everything you can to ease his pain. You'll be helping him, your team, and your company.

In time, you may be rewarded with a pay raise. Or, God forbid, if things don't work out with this new manager, a promotion. It's an easy decision to promote someone into a position if they already successfully handle some of the role's responsibilities.

Good luck. This could be a good opportunity for you.