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Question: “I am in a very strange situation. When I was recruited by this company, I was told I would be reporting to the vice president. But when I started work, the VP said that I would report to one of his Directors instead. He went on to say that this Director has made no contributions to the business and has no future here. The VP told me that he wanted to watch my performance for a while before replacing the Director. However, no time frame was mentioned. He also warned me that the Director has some very close friends in the department. Then he said that if I have any concerns, I should come directly to him. Now I’m not sure how to work with my Director. I can tell that he is not qualified. But he seems happy and relaxed, and he treats me fairly. How should I handle this?” — Confused
Marie’s Answer: Replacing someone who doesn’t know they’re leaving requires tact, subtlety, and the ability to keep a secret. Your vice president obviously possesses none of these qualities. Telling you about this hidden agenda was both tacky and stupid. However, now that you know, you must act as though you don’t.
Focus on your current job and avoid acting like the heir apparent. Don’t get in the habit of going around your boss, despite the VP’s invitation to do so. With your crafty VP, just be pleasant, helpful, and cautious. Your misleading job offer was the first clue that he can’t be trusted. This charade with the Director is the second.
Only time will tell if you’re going to be promoted. But if you handle this tricky situation properly, at least no one can accuse you of trying to overthrow your boss.
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