Associate + VP Hate Me -- What Do?

I work in sort of a family office advisory shop where we do transactional work for corporates -- currently doing sell-side work -- been here for almost 2 years now and while it started off decently and I got along well with my hierarchical superiors, now they basically can't stand me. This is both from a professional standpoint and social.

Professional meaning: they shit on my work output all the time, they never want to answer any question I have, every question I do ask is stupid and I should just google it, I'll admit I make some mistakes sometimes (not that our MD really gives a single fuck) but they are always nasty about it instead of just calmly saying "hey this is wrong" they make it seem like such a big deal. I will say they still keep me busy although what ratio of the work I do is "busy work" versus actual product is debatable sometimes. But at least whenever I get it in front of my MD he's happy with it.

Social meaning: The two of them will be chatting about sports and I'll try to join in and offer some of my input only to get either: 1) Ignored or 2) Told to shut up and do work. And this is contrasted to a year ago where I felt a stronger connection and we shot the shit like you'd imagine in an office setting with cool dudes.

Bonuses are coming up too and I'm obviously a bit worried I might not get anything. Just not sure what to do, as I haven't really built a strong skill set here to just interview and peace out (0 mentorship obviously)
+ no formal training) I try to be stoic in all areas of my life but the constant negativity and "hazing" (which is the way I try to frame it in a positive light) definitely wear on me now, I'm really abhoring the thought of coming into work in the morning whereas a year ago I actively looked forward to it.


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Comments (17)

Aug 7, 2018

Can you recall a turning point on when things have soured? Say for instance, after a deal/project? Or after some sort of team event or meeting?

Without any context (on you as a person, your work quality, or your peers/superiors) it's difficult to determine what caused this divide, and whose fault it is, and not knowing that it's hard to give advice. For instance, if it's a case of bad work quality (and what you think are small infractions are actually big deals for your superiors), you would need to improve on those and come up with a system to eliminate those mistakes. Sometimes things you think are minor can, when it happens frequently, piss the utter shit out of people needing to check your work - not only do they have to fix it, but it makes them wonder "does this person actually give a shit?" Or "if something so basic is wrong, what else is wrong about his deliverable that I have to spend time to check?". If it's something like you said something, and it was taken the wrong way, then a conversation with that person could be something to do. Like I said, unless you can pinpoint the cause or context, hard to give advice.

I think before anyone can help, maybe take a step back to map out when things started to go bad. Was it gradual? Was it after a certain period? See if you can pinpoint it being an event, or if it's a series of events.

if you have someone on your team that is neutral or gets along with you, maybe you can ask him/her on what's going on. But before doing so, do the recall exercise I mentioned to see if you can think of any possible leads.

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Aug 8, 2018

piss the utter shit out of people needing to check your work - not only do they have to fix it, but it makes them wonder "does this person actually give a shit?" Or "if something so basic is wrong, what else is wrong about his deliverable that I have to spend time to check?".

Yeah this is definitely it. I feel like I haven't really improved or become independent in my time here. They've also completely lost any patience with me whatsoever. That's why it's unsure if it's a "social" thing like they just don't "like" me or they think I'm dumb so they don't want to waste time investing in me and teaching me. Might just be the sound of my voice having worked here for almost 2 years lol

Honestly I feel like there's just no going back or even advice to be had, I just need to spin this experience the best way I can in interviews and move on to new people and a new opportunity. I have lots of friends in awesome industries who all have cooler more interesting jobs where they go out with their cowworkers and have awesome culture. There is just 0 culture here which is probably why they have no connection to me or want to teach me at all.

"I did it for me...I liked it...I was good at it. And I was really... I was alive."

    • 3
Aug 7, 2018

You've been at this firm for ~2 years and you're still repeating mistakes? If that's the case, this is more on you than them. While everyone makes mistakes, and there are things that require time for improvement (speaking, writing succinctly but providing context, etc), things like formatting, checking your math, checking grammar and spelling for instance, matching figures and details - that you should nail down and is a baseline expectation. And if you're not getting the basic stuff right, I can totally get why they'd be so pissed at you. And why people wouldn't want to socialize with you - "if he's got so much time to try and be chummy with us, he can use that time to learn how to not give us some shitty deliverable."

You probably need to look elsewhere and start with a clean slate. But wherever you go, I would think about the things you need to improve on so that the same thing doesn't happen. Your second paragraph talks about how you have other friends in cooler environments and better culture... and it could be that your current workplace has lackluster culture. But the issue, if you are making a lot of silly mistakes - and after two years at that, could very well just be you.

Work out a system of how to improve your work quality, attention to detail, or whatever things you need to fix. Focus on making mistakes once and only once and learning from them. This is still a workplace. Even if people like your personality, that can sour quite quickly if you're incompetent and they need to pick up after you.

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Aug 8, 2018

I think the context you're losing is that this isn't banking where I'm making an associate / VP stay until midnight to fix my work.

We leave at 5-7PM, especially during the slow times it's a 9-5 job.

And again I'm being honest with myself that some mistakes I make are due to wanting to get the work done fast versus making sure everything is formatted perfectly / I made sure to update the footnote to say that "Q1 isn't included". And definitely in banking those things are important; they're going in a deck that our MD is gonna present to a potential lucrative client.

In our business it's going on a 3-page summary slide with big bullet points for our retarded "MD" (They shit on him all the time to me, threatened to leave. In fact the VP is doing like, consulting work for some other advisory firm on the side since our hours are so lite and non-intensive) for him to figure out if we should do a deal with 5% IRR.

I guess my point is, the stakes are laughably lower for my work, and I don't think it's the classic analyst mistakes that they're getting tired with. It's me asking questions trying to understand things and getting told to "stfu google it" (While screaming for the whole office to hear, we have a very small tight-nit group that sits around ancillary staff like property managers and shit)

Also due to this entrepenurial nature of the job, the requests are always really open-oriented and I have to "figure it out on my own" even though what I'm trying to figure out is what they want...

I'm also comparing this experience with past work experiences which were much more collaborative. I worked as an SA in BB IBD and I would sit behind the analysts and associates while they showed me how to do things in excel. I can count on one hand how many times that's happened in the 2 years here lol.

@kanon you are giving excellent advice but you're right that it's contextual to my situation. Honestly I just made this post as a way to vent anyway lol and put my thoughts onto paper. I appreciate your help though because I'm trying to maintain accountability while also recognizing the weirdness of it all and get some actionable advice for my next try

"I did it for me...I liked it...I was good at it. And I was really... I was alive."

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Most Helpful
Aug 7, 2018
  • Even if the expectations are lower at this firm, if people are ex-IB, PE, MC or wherever expectations were higher, they may still carry those expectations even if not needed
  • The tricky thing with soured relationships and impressions is, even if you improve going forward or do nothing to warrant a negative response, everything will be judged more harshly and it's an uphill battle to change it. Conversely, if you were in their eyes a rockstar teammate, mistakes or oversights or questions that can otherwise be googled will be overlooked or answered with positivity because he/she has amassed a lot of goodwill and benefit of the doubt.
  • On mentorship, shadowing, and environment for asking questions. This changes and is different based on: (1) your title / experience, (2) increasing expectations over time, and (3) precedent behaviors. So...
  1. There aren't that many expectations for an SA - take notes, be hungry, learn from others, try to be helpful where possible. So when you're an SA, people will be nicer and more inclined to help you. If you're a FT analyst, you're expected to be a contributing member of the team and not require as much hand holding and be more proactive in figuring things out for yourself. After a few initial months (grace period), you should be up and running.
  2. Whenever you join a firm, you have a window of opportunity/ grace period to ask "stupid questions". That's the time to do it. If you didn't take the early opportunity to ask questions, people will assume you "got it" - and then subsequently be annoyed when in fact you didn't and require help and hand holding late in the game. And if you didn't ask the "stupid" or basic questions in the early months and choose to ask them much later, people will think "he should know this by now" (re: increasing expectations of your ability and knowledge over time).
  3. Finally, another reason to ask questions early during that grace period, besides figuring out how to do things sooner, is to set precedence for behavior. If you have a history of asking questions (coupled with googling and self study of course), you're setting a precedent for that behavior early and It allows you to keep asking progressively more intelligent or sophisticated questions. It becomes more of a dialogue with your bosses and one of a mentorship tone / intellectual curiosity.

All of the above effectively boils down to whether people have a positive impression of you and if you've won a lot of goodwill. It's a lot of building and set up over time, and very easy to tarnish.

    • 6
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Aug 8, 2018

It's time for you to move on. The economy is booming and there are plenty of other employers. Try to do better next time.

Aug 8, 2018


Aug 7, 2018

Double post.

    • 3
Aug 13, 2018

I feel some sympathy as I was in a similar situation with my first job (it was BO so I wasn't as motivated) but it sounds like your not as motivated to be in the office and the others know it. Quit and move on with a clean slate. Presumably you have the experience to leave so you staying and being miserable can be bad for your psyche.

Aug 8, 2018

staying and being miserable can be bad for your psyche.

Definitely is man, it's starting to seep into my general sense of well-being. Just feel like I'm not learning anything, not going anywhere, spinning my wheels, watching all my friends (went to a HPY for what it's worth) with amazing work cultures where they have an identifiable work product that they can be objectively judged by and work and improve on in a positive way for growth... it's definitely wearing down on me.

So many times I just throw my hands up and feel like I'm not getting it. Also considering if law school is better for me or something. Cause honestly in the end these guys are more experienced than me so if they say I suck, then I probably just suck. Like they just make good points, can't deny when someone does that even if it's at the cost of my ego

"I did it for me...I liked it...I was good at it. And I was really... I was alive."

Aug 13, 2018

I fire people that make the same mistake over and over very quickly. It means they don't give a fuck about what they do. Pisses me off immensely when they ask a question that can easily be googled as well, it really makes them seem completely stupid and not willing to be proactive...

Sounds like it's you.

Aug 13, 2018

Hmm, doesn't sound great. Just based on what you've disclosed, sounds like you possibly piled up one to many "mistakes" that irked them and maybe make them question your work product quality / contribution to the deal team. Basically, you didn't or haven't lived up to their expectations (rightly or wrongly) and / or made one or both of them look bad. Maybe one or both just don't like you for some reason completely out of your control and unbeknownst to you. People just suck ass sometimes.

Small shops, like yours, are notorious for politics and finky culture (or lack thereof). How mid level guys feel about you personally in a larger group is less relevant, you either do a good job as an analyst or you don't; for the most part. If it's just you, or one other analyst, your shortcomings can be compounded and force their them to dwell on their negative perception of you. I hate to say all is lost, but their minds sound like they're made up about you. Is it possible for you to try to ask your VP if he'd be willing to grab a quick coffee with you one morning? Even though he's not your biggest fan, it might be good to get him alone and at least see if he'd open up about what's driving some of his attitude toward you. I'd guess he'd reject a casual offer, so try to be to be emphatic about your request to meet. Take a look on his calendar when he's got an opening and try to pin him down. What do you have to lose? I wouldn't bother with your associate, he's likely riding your hate train to boost his standing with the VP. Good luck to you.

    • 2
Aug 15, 2018

Think about establishing dominance via taking a deuce on the VP's desk. Then proceed to shove the associate's face into said fecal matter

Guarantee they won't mess with you after that

    • 1
Aug 15, 2018

Don't forget to champagne shower your MDs office (bonus points for filming it), then offer people introductions to the industry.

    • 1
Aug 15, 2018

Your attitude should not be to get the work done as quickly as possible so you can leave at 5 or 7. It should be to complete the work in a professional and accurate manor in the most timely manor possible.

I think you have a few options;

Find another job but there is no guarantees you will find anything better - and if it is you then this problem will only manifest at a later date.

Improve your work by taking time and making sure you absolutely smash your next couple of projects. You can achieve this firstly by taking your time and getting rid of any stupid errors.

Secondly, never ask a question without googling it fist. I would suggest spending 10 minutes looking for an answer maybe 15 - 20 if your bosses dislike you that much. Also bring in evidence that you have googled so you don't just blandly ask "how do I do xyz?".

You also mentioned that you do not get support or training? You have not elaborated on this so I do not know exactly what tasks this relates to. But you could take the initiative and buy some online courses or even professional courses e.g CFA which may help.

I obviously don't know your background, wants and desires in regards to a career but based on the fact you had a stint in IBD I assume you are ambitious. Therefore, if your hours are lackluster then you have a lot of spare time to learn and develop your skills whether it is for this job or an interview going forward.

But even if you were at a "better" firm I hope you realize you will not be spoon fed.