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Handling A 'Newbie' Manager: Deal With It Or Go Over Her Head?

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in Your Office Coach

Question: “My team recently got a new boss who is very green as a manager. Although I have 20 years’ experience, she makes it abundantly clear that she feels superior to me in every way. She talks incessantly about her credentials and all the 'important' tasks she has been given.  I find her condescending, unapproachable and inflexible. Staff meetings have become a painful experience because they accomplish nothing.  Our new boss will not discuss projects in detail nor take any direction from ‘subordinates.’  I have known her manager for a long time and have a good relationship with him.  He’s a fair guy, and he respects my opinion. Should I tell him how I feel about my new boss?” — The Underling

Marie's Answer:  Although ‘newbie’ managers can be frustrating, the biggest problem with this supervisor is your reaction to her.  You’re doing a very poor job of “managing up.”

* Like many new supervisors, your boss feels insecure and inadequate.  To compensate, she puffs herself up to show that she's the boss.  If you threaten her authority, she’s likely to retaliate.

* Your own emotional needs are also on display.  You resent her failure to recognize your experience and follow your advice.  But if you display this resentment, you may soon be labeled “difficult to manage.”

* Battling with your boss is always a hazardous move.  Your supervisor has a higher position and greater access to upper management, so you could easily wind up the loser.

* Adopting a helpful and cooperative attitude toward this inexperienced manager is a better career strategy.  You’ll win political points by becoming her ally.

* Complaining to upper management is likely to backfire.  Although you would undoubtedly enjoy describing her incompetence, remember that her manager selected her.  So when you disparage her, you also criticize his judgment.

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