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What would you do with a boss like this?

(7 Posts)
Campaspe Wed 10-Aug-11 19:13:26

I work in the civil service as a manager. I feel really fortunate to have the terms and conditions that I do. However, I am unhappy with my current boss. She does not delegate or communicate with her managers, apart from her deputy, with whom she spends several hours a day. Other staff's ideas and contributions are generally belittled and/or not accepted.

I today spoke up and politely and calmly explained that I felt left out of the decision making and not kept informed, giving actual examples. My boss listened, but said it was not possible or practical for her to involve other managers, and that she needed to make decisions with her deputy that would inevitably be presented as a fait accompli. She did concede that she would try to find some small issues that the rest of us could get more involved in.

Basically, the issue is that I put my heart and soul into my work. My self-esteem is based on how well I do at work. I'm now left feeling undervalued and having to face the unpalatable fact that perhaps I don't have the ability to go further and that's why my boss sidelines me and the others.

What would you do with a boss and a situation like this?
How can I stop caring so much what my colleagues think?
How can I toughen up?

HappyAsASandboy Wed 10-Aug-11 19:32:07

How far up are we talking? If you are a Grade 7 being sidelined by a Grade 6, I wouldn't hesitate to go straight to Grade 5/low SCS level and ask for a unit-wide project of some sort to take a lead on. Then you report directly back to the Grade 5/low SCS. I bet your Grade 6 bucks up and wants to get in on it smile

If it is higher than that, I think it becomes a bit more tricky, because a single step up the chain suddenly becomes a big jump in seniority. It might still be possible though?

WhTever you manage to arrange, just remember that you should be delegating decisions to your own staff. It would be wonderful if your staff praise this aspect of your management when your boss asks them for feedback at review time grin

Campaspe Wed 10-Aug-11 19:49:30

Thank you Happy. I am not a senior grade - I am an HEO and my manager is an SEO. She herself is managed by a G5 (bizarre I know) who works remotely and does not know any of us. Therefore I don't think I have the option to escalate.

I like to think that I "empower" rather than delegate. (See, I've got the bollock speak down to a fine art; I should be a member of the SCS!)

HappyAsASandboy Wed 10-Aug-11 22:15:32

Humm ... a home-working, grade-skipping (by three big grades!) bosses boss doesn't help, does it?!

What kind of unit do you work in? Where I work, there arensevral teams in my unit, each of which dies related but separate work. I have always found that the way around an obstructive boss is precisely that - to find a way of working around them. To find some time to work on a cross-team project, or to set up a new project/mentoring scheme/skill sharing network/lunchtime seminars .... anything that your boss can't object to, but that gives you an excuse to talk to others at your level and above, across different teams. It gets you known amongst your bosses peers, they then mention you in meetings at their level, your pet project becomes something they have to acknowledge .... and pretty soon your boss has no choice but to work with you, as you're on a wider radar and people will notice if your boss keeps squashing you.

That said, I know it isn't easy. TBH I have only ever had one really bad boss, and the rest of them have either been great managers, or willing to be 'upward managed'! I struggled under my bad boss, who sounds similar to yours - he thought he was the bees knees, and spent his time taking credit for out work and dodging any kind of responsibility for decisions. I used my post in that team to gather lots if skills (while banging my head on the wall every day) and then found a promotion out of the team.

Is there any scope for moving teams? IME there are more good managers than bad in the civil service :-)

HappyAsASandboy Wed 10-Aug-11 22:18:36

Typing on a phone keypad was clearly not one of the skills I developed smile You get the gist though ...

Yourefired Thu 11-Aug-11 18:25:16

Be proactive. You should have the competency framework for your grade. Book quarterly 121s with her and work through together. She should have managing and developing staff as one of her competencies so can hardly refuse. Let her know that you are keen to progress, and want to develop the areas of decision making and the like. As this requires the opportunity to do have ready some possible projects/tasks that you could undertake.

Re what others think. This is not a bad thing, but needs a little perspective. Sunning dale run a course called something like personal effectiveness that covers these issues. It's expensive but worth considering. Again put these training ideas to her.

Monitor whether this approach works over next six months, and if not look for another post/secondment. IME you would be unrealistic to expect her behaviour to change overnight, but you have the tools via the job reporting systems to encourage change.
Good luck

northerngirl41 Mon 15-Aug-11 09:09:01

Hmmm... How practical is it for everyone to have input? Mostly I find (admittedly as a private sector boss!) that the more people I involve in decision making, the longer it takes and the less likely we are to reach a decision that everyone is happy with since it tends to be cobbled together with bits of everyone's ideas and no one cohesive theme.

Go back to boss and offer to oversee a specific project and be responsible for it. That would mean boss has less on her plate. But at the moment what you're asking is to be more involved - in other words, make her job harder by sticking your oar in and stirring it about. I can see why she's not keen.

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