Help with my Manager

Jim Simons's picture
Rank: Gorilla | 675

I often receive vague instructions from my manager on tasks and I know the product I produce will be insufficient. Therefore I've tried either or in combination:

  1. Spending long hours trying to independently conceptualize the task and understand what the requirement is. Regularly working 20-30 hours more a week than other associates, with no success.
  2. Asking for help from the other associates. However, if my manager finds out I'm told: "why are you asking them, I assigned you the task?".
  3. Holding ground with my manager and explaining, I don't understand your ask and I need more help otherwise the outcome will be insufficient. Which the response is "you don't seem to have a desire to think independently to solve the problem"

I'd be appreciative of any advice. I've extremely thankful for my role and the opportunity but I regularly feel like a failure with no hope.

Comments (7)

Most Helpful
Jul 12, 2019

Difficult. Being candid, your manager seems like a cuck with poor project / people management skills, and will probably be knee-capped in their career because of it.

That aside, I think the one improvement I could suggest would be to ask more targeted question (if, of course, you haven't yet tried this). By this, I mean rather than saying, "I don't understand what you're asking," you specifically drill down into the ambiguities in the hope of getting better colour. For example: "You've asked for me to do X, Y, Z - concerning X, does this mean you want me to do A or B, because in terms of how this relates to the overall project, I think it would create C, D, E benefits / obstacles."

If this doesn't work / you've already tried this, raise your grievances to someone else - this could be your staffer (if you have one in your team) or your manager's boss themselves. Ultimately, if having this person as your manager is causing you difficulty, you need to be as dynamic as possible in fixing the situation before it affects your longer-term prospects as well. Reach out to other employees at your firm and see if they've had to work for / deal with your manager before, and if so, how did they do it?

Best of luck to you, mate.

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Jul 12, 2019

Thank you, I'll try a more targeted approach, I definitely want to make this work. I've talked to others who work with him and the response has been "he has good intentions".

Jul 12, 2019

I second the more targeted approach. I have an example in my past that probably doesn't 100% apply but maybe it'll help.

I was thrown into a deal in the 11th hour that was probably beyond my level at the time. My task was to write up a report to be circulated among senior management/approvers as kind of a one-stop document for anyone who wanted to get up to speed on the deal.

Having pretty much no knowledge of the company/industry/etc, I wrote up a brief outline hitting the major topics and sub-bullets. I sent this to my manager with something like: "Just to make sure I'm on the right path, can you look over this outline and let me know if you're expecting anything different?"

I got the outline back with some parts rearranged and some clarifying detail on some parts I was a little off on. It was great to have an approved roadmap of what I needed to do.

Not saying this will work in every situation, but it speaks to the value of asking specific questions.

    • 1
Jul 12, 2019

Thank you, John,

This is a great example of what I'm discussing and this I'd effectively what I've tried. However, when I send it to my manager asking for feedback as you did the response is "why are you asking me this? You should be able to do this independently" or it turns into a Socratic debate of him trying to lead me to discover what I should change.

I appreciate the advice and I definitely will focus on pinning down what I want him to answer. Thanks

Jul 12, 2019

2, then #3, then #1

Jul 12, 2019

I had a manager like this.
I often had to go to 3 and say something like, "It's very likely I'm stupid, but I need the specific task explained better." He would often seethe as he had to reexplain. I held my own and would say things like, "Do you want it done right or not."

I'll say that having a set of stones did lead to a better working relationship than other individuals had with him. But it did take months of barking back and forth. I left that job and was asked for an exit interview by a partner on the way out. I largely said it just became too exhausting to work with manager. It was no secret and no bridge burned. The guy seemed to have a revolving door of associates every 3-6 months. I just couldn't fathom working with a spacey spitfire who expected preemptive mind reading from his underlings.


    • 1
Aug 4, 2019
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