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Narcissistic Manager

11 replies

SeaMagic · 02/09/2015 12:39

Was just wondering if anyone else has had this experience, and if so what did you do or how did you manage it?

New manager has started at my place of work. Let's call her Sarah [not her real name]. I directly report to her but she doesn't have hiring or firing rights [thank god]. Sarah is very forthright and a big personality, wanted to make changes immediately, did this without any consultation with her team [we have all worked there for between around 4 - 8 years so far]. She also speaks about her achievements quite a bit. The first time she did so I thought wow, how interesting. The second time I thought I'm sure she's told me this before. The third [fourth, fifth...] I was like Hmm

However this didn't initially bother me too much, thought she was enthusiastic and dynamic, maybe a little insecure and trying to make her mark in a new company, fair enough. However I started to notice that Sarah disliked any disagreement with her ideas and plans or changes she wished to make. Little things at first, for example when I tried to point out [very gently] why an idea of hers might need input from the IT dept... she thought it was unnecessary and was very dismissive of me, however I was later proven right and she had to backtrack on her grand scheme awaiting approval from IT.

Then she was unhappy with me as I had CC'd her in to communication I had with the manager above her. Sarah wanted to be the one who was directly emailed with the other manager CC'd in... I couldn't understand her upset as we had spoken about the issue in person and Sarah herself had asked me to email this manager. I had therefore CC'd Sarah in to my communication with said manager purely as a courtesy and to let her know that I had done as she had asked... But no, she arranged a meeting with me to let me know I had undermined her and she wanted all communication to go via her relevant others CC'd in... Again I was a bit Hmm about this but thought I would do as she asked if it was so important to her.

However more recently communication has completely broken down between us. We had a disagreement regarding an issue with a client and to my mind this could have been solved by talking it through together and reaching a consensus. It is relevant that we are considered 'peers' at our place of work and that Sarah is the manager with admin responsibility so when it comes to the actual work the norm is that we would work as a team to iron out any issues. However Sarah seemed to take great offence that I saw the situation differently and also seemed to view this as my implying she wasn't up to the job [I genuinely wasn't]. She became incredibly rude, aggressive and belittling in a meeting we had together to discuss the issue when I genuinely felt I went in there with the intention to smooth things over and find a way for us to work better together.

I am not sure what to do now. We still have to work together but are pretty much ignoring each other apart from a polite nod of acknowledgement if we pass each other in the corridor. I know this is not great behaviour on my part but I am so unsettled by Sarah's attack on me and I actually do not know how I can continue working with her.

The next day I went to speak to my manager [both mine and Sarah's] confidentially to let her know this situation has arisen but I told her quite an edited version about communication break down and different working styles. Manager however has offered that she acts as mediator or that we get HR involved. I told her I wanted to sit on it for the time being while I tried to work out what had happened and whether this was necessary or not.

So... has anyone ever had a colleague like this and if so how did you handle them? Any advice or words of wisdom would be welcome!

OP posts:

AuntyMag10 · 02/09/2015 12:42

How did you come to a diagnoses of narcissism?
Your manager has offered to get hr involved, what is there to sit on?


Vixxfacee · 02/09/2015 12:44

Do you work at my work place. I think managers are usually narcissistic. I found that in almost all but one of my work places.


SeaMagic · 02/09/2015 12:55

She requires a lot of ego stroking imo AuntyMag. I am not saying she actually is NPD but I think I can see some narcissistic traits [haven't put each and every interaction in my OP but just an overall impression].

I am not sure I want to go down the path of HR involvement just yet, I wanted to see if maybe there was another way I could handle this.

But it may well come to that.

OP posts:

ChazsBrilliantAttitude · 02/09/2015 12:56

Deal with Sarah in writing where possible. Remain neutral about her ideas on paper and only offer advice where specifically requested. Give her enough rope to hang herself; I doubt you are the only member of staff she has upset. The more she boasts; the more she has to deliver.

Make sure you get credit for what you have done, if necessary refer it to your manager. Don't let her blame you for any of her cock ups, so as much as possible keep your distance from her pet projects whilst appearing superficially supportive.

You have the advantage of a good history with the company so don't be afraid to say to your manager things like "you and I have worked together well for years so you know that I don't make a fuss etc."


SeaMagic · 02/09/2015 12:59

And it's also the prickliness if she feels disagreed with. It's like she cannot bear it, that someone may feel differently about a work issue. She has to be right and any hesitation or uncertainty is read as obstructiveness or undermining.

So it makes it very difficult to know how to manage these situations.

OP posts:

SeaMagic · 02/09/2015 13:00

Thank you Chazs. This is very helpful Flowers

OP posts:

ChazsBrilliantAttitude · 02/09/2015 13:06

Another thought
If something does go wrong and your manager asks why you didn't help or point out pitfalls, you can use her boasting against her
"With her skills and experience I though she would find this straightforward" or
"She didn't give me any indication she out of her depth / needed help, I would have, of course, stepped in had I realised etc."


SeaMagic · 02/09/2015 13:14

It's hard to say too much about how we work without giving too much potentially identifying information.

But basically you bring a lot of your personality to the work we do, it is quite creative but there are also clear policies and procedures.

The issue with Sarah imo is she is a bit of a loose cannon emotionally [hence her outburst with me] but will turn it all around onto you, so I became undermining and negative, rather than her looking at the situation with more dispassionate eyes and being able to look at ways we can work together constructively even if we may disagree on key points.

OP posts:

butttons · 02/09/2015 15:02

Do you work in my office?? Sarah sounds a lot like my manager (also not called Sarah.... - her idea of a brainstorm is an opportunity for her to go on about her own ideas for the entire duration of the meeting and then ask others for theirs 2 mins before it ends)

I just wanted to echo Chazs's advice - the way I have dealt with my manager acting similarly is to ensure that YOU get credit for your work, dont let her steal your limelight; let her be the one who hangs for her own mistakes and judgement calls (I am assuming that if she is senior to you then ultimately she is the one who is accountable although the whole team contributes to the success of a project); if she is anything like my boss then you wont be the only person who has noticed this type of attitude/behaviour - don't rise to it and keep your name and reputation clean; if you have any jokes/stories to tell, tell them to all and sundry rather than just to her so that she cant pass them off as her own (yes, even to me, just 30 mins after I told her a story)

If all else fails, do as I did and get pregnant.......... fingers crossed my manager will have left by the time I return to work....


Aqualady · 02/09/2015 15:13

If she has blonde hair and name does actually begin with S, we know the same person as the person I know moved to a different job role.

If not I still understand what your going through. It's bullying behaviour and can make you dread going to work.

In my case I wish I has spoken up earlier as I spent years being pushed about and manipulated.

I also agree with chaz post .

Good luck op


SeaMagic · 02/09/2015 17:56

Thank you everyone for your thoughts and kind words.

Aqualady, no 'Sarah' doesn't have blonde hair nor does her real name begin with 'S'. I'm sorry though that you had to work with someone like her as well though and yes, it is making me dread going in to work which is a shame as I have worked there for 8 years and mostly have enjoyed the work and my colleagues very much Sad

Butttons thank you also for your contribution. It makes me feel less alone... I am sure it was a difficult and frustrating situation for you [also a bit creepy in a Single White Female sort of way] Flowers

OP posts:
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