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Change, so far, is not a good thing
June 13, 2011 12:06 AM   Subscribe

New boss in old job with political connections/implications, help us make this work

Been at my current job for just shy of four years and boss (who had been there ~ 25 years) is retiring June 30. He gave his notice about 6 months ago and months ago and his replacement started June 1. The man seems nice but:
a) he has political connections and continues to name drop
b) is seeking to impose hierarchy where there isn't
c) is trying to change things before he understands why they are what they are and
d) doesn't read email

The NY office is approximately 200 people but our team, over which he leads is 3 people. If there's stuff to do - we just divvy it up according to preference, strength, etc. There is no hierarchy. While individual departments may be slightly more hierarchical overall the company is fairly flat with everyone chipping in when needed.

The changing things along with the not reading email is the most frustrating. Email is how we (as a company) communicate. I don't appreciate being asked for something, then 30 min later being berated for "not doing it" when it has been in his inbox for 28 minutes. Especially the changes when things aren't broken. I'm really worried for how thins will be July 1 when the old boss is gone. He's been a protector for us and we're kind of like a family unit - I'm worried about what other changes are to come. Any suggestions?

TL:DR - new boss, help us adjust? Anon because coworkers are on MeFi. Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Email is how we (as a company) communicate. I don't appreciate being asked for something, then 30 min later being berated for "not doing it" when it has been in his inbox for 28 minutes."

Perhaps he can't really read and is trying to bully you into adopting communication media he can understand. A surprising number of adults can't read and/or can't comprehend written material.

All I can suggest is you keep repeating "yes, sir, I emailed that to you 28 minutes ago". Broken record.
posted by tel3path at 1:13 AM on June 13, 2011


What about discussing with retiring boss?
posted by taff at 1:38 AM on June 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Flat hierarchies can make things difficult for outsiders/newcomers to understand. Do you have clearly documented processes for how stuff gets done? Who to go to for specific tasks etc? If he's come from a hierarchical environment it may take time to get used to the way you're doing stuff, which from the outside, might seem inefficient to him. He may relax this view over time, or he may not but you're going to need longer than a few weeks to thrash that one out.

If you haven't dealt with change in a long time that can be very unsettling for you, but he's only had two weeks to get to grips with stuff you know very well. It can take from 3-6 months for a new unit to gel, and that is essentially what you now are.

Your boss leaving means that things must change, and yes, this guy sounds like he's not going about it in a particularly useful fashion but the only way you can ride out this difficult period is by being flexible.
posted by freya_lamb at 2:29 AM on June 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sadly, I think you've simply got to grieve the loss of Perfect Boss. These folks are very thin on the ground. Hopefully you will be able to help somewhat mold Okay Boss, though right now you're dealing with New Broom Syndrome. Depending on the size of the ego, the new broom finds it imperative/nearly irresistable to fix what isn't broken in order to stamp his mark on his new patch.

From what you said about name dropping, I fear he may have one or more of several ego issues. I would then also worry that the modest size of your team is in fact exactly what may be driving his need of hierarchy. What do you know of your new boss' history? Are there any former employees or coworkers of his that you can speak to and learn about his management style? How did he get this new position? All information which can help you figure out how best to deal with him in order to help him adjust to your department, drop new broom actions and become Okay Boss.

Seconding the idea that you first discuss your concerns (diplomatically!) with Perfect Boss before he leaves. He may have some good ideas re coping strategies. It would also be nice if he could clue new boss in to company culture and practice re email and hierarchy. And until July 1, it is his job and his responsibilty to do so.
posted by likeso at 3:07 AM on June 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


*irresistible
posted by likeso at 3:08 AM on June 13, 2011


I don't appreciate being asked for something, then 30 min later being berated for "not doing it" when it has been in his inbox for 28 minutes.

Take it from someone who got very frustrated when I first started working for my current company, where several of the Partners do the same thing. E-mail the information, then call. It may seem redundant, but that extra minute on the phone will save you so much aggravation.
posted by xingcat at 5:25 AM on June 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Take it from someone who got very frustrated when I first started working for my current company, where several of the Partners do the same thing. E-mail the information, then call. It may seem redundant, but that extra minute on the phone will save you so much aggravation.

Agree with this. Some people are just not in the habit of checking their email regularly and/or are too busy on the phone or doing other things. You can frame it as "he never checks his email" vs "why haven't you done the work yet?", or you can just tell him it's in his email. This will either work out well for both of you (you don't get berated, he gets the work quickly), or might even eventually get him to check his email of his own accord.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:27 AM on June 13, 2011


I have recently been on both sides of this issue -- I was at my old company for > 7 years and was replaced by a New Boss with a New Way Of Doing Things -- I went from running the department to reporting to him and watch him run the department. Not easy.

I found another position and now, I am the New Boss :).

I think that #1, you and your team mates have got to accept that the old boss is gone and you have a new guy. My guess is that the more he perceives that his authority is not accepted, the more he will exert that authority. If he comes from outside the company, he's dealing with culture shock as well as dealing with the challenge of taking over a new team from a very well-liked boss.

If he hasn't told you his preferences, you might take the initiative to find out how he likes to manage -- how does he like to communicate, what are his hot buttons, etc...

Good luck!
posted by elmay at 6:44 AM on June 13, 2011


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