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Posted: 9/22/2004 8:40:32 AM EST
I have 4 people that work under me, and one VP that is my boss. My boss is an idiot. Well, that's a bit harsh. Remember that scene in Forest Gump where they hold up the chart & say "normal is up here, your boy is down here"? My boss falls about halfway between Forest and normal. He knows the technical aspects of the job quite well. Too well IMHO and is out of touch with reality. Most of the things he asks us to do that are above our normal duties are pretty stupid. He's also new to the company, and doesn't understand the workings of the internal beaurocracy.

The point of all this is, what do you do with subordinates that ask you "why" when the only why you have is that an idiot said you have to? I keep having to try and remember to bite my tongue & not talk bad about the boss, but it's hard & I do slip sometimes. I just can't keep my mouth shut when he calls with some of his stupid bullshit. I get off the phone & have to vent or I'll pop.
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 9:05:42 AM EST
Dude, you sure do whine about work alot.

Maybe a new job would help?
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 9:16:17 AM EST
Simple, Don't let them get away with asking "why?".
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 9:19:52 AM EST
If you give them two assignments for every "why" question - you'll soon find an end to such silly things.
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 11:17:53 AM EST

Originally Posted By 944turbo:
Dude, you sure do whine about work alot.

Maybe a new job would help?



How is it whining? I'm asking for advice from others that have been in management before me, that's all.

I think you're just still upset that you drive slow ass POS.
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 12:40:22 PM EST

My boss' boss is an idiot. My boss confides some things in me because he trusts me to remain a professional, and confides nothing in others, who can be expected to run their mouths at the wrong time.

Bottom line, if your employees can handle the truth and still give you 100%, tell them. If not, don't.

Link Posted: 9/22/2004 12:41:58 PM EST
Work for yourself.
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 12:46:23 PM EST
norman74, one day you'll learn that the higher up on the management food chain you go, the lower the IQ becomes.

TPS reports anyone?
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 12:58:05 PM EST
Ask your boss a pre-emptive "Why?"

Challenge his instruction directly, but in a peaceful manner. For example, say that you work for a company that manufactures various widgets. You are the production supervisor, your 4 workers are the machinists, and your boss is VP of Production, but new to the company.

VP tells N74 to make 10,000 examples of a new style widget, but skip the prototyping and go straight to production. Now, if you go straight to your 4 guys with this directive, you're going to catch hell, right? You've never gone straight to production before. You always make a prototype first, to optimize the material, the tool path, the order of operations, everything. You don't even know if the new widget can be made with the jigs, tools and fixtures that you have, right?

Well, this is your golden opportunity to help the new guy out a little by explaining that the company has (perhaps not clearly defined and documented) procedures and policies pertinent to the execution of work. Those procedures are not arbitrary; they have bee ncrafted over time to produce the work in the most efficient manner. Help the VP understand what these guidelines are and how they are used every day to conduct the work.

As the intermediate manager, you unfortunately have to wear two hats. You have to represent the company to your subordinates, and you have to represent your subordinates to the company. Although the VP may be a dolt, he is nonetheless up the ladder, and a force to be reckoned with. You owe it to your subordinates to effectively communicate their concerns on up in the same manner that you communicate company directives down the ladder to them. When conflicts between your two "clients" it is essential for you to mediate the discussion.

It sounds to me as if your VP is in one place, and you and the 4 are in another place. If so, then you're handicapped by the remoteness of the VP to the location of the actual work. I think if he could spend some time around the guys that are sluggin out the work on a day-to-day basis, he will soon gain a greater appreciation of the task at hand. It sounds like this guy might be the arch-typical model of the too-smart engineer: he knows the book inside and out, but couldn't turn a wrench if his life depended on it.

You might try to get your VP and your 4 subordinates together on a semi-regular basis.

If I knew more about the specifics of your set-up, I might be able to offer more. However, the mere fact that it bothers you speaks volumes about your commitment to doing the job right. Keep after it, man.

Link Posted: 9/22/2004 1:05:06 PM EST
BEER, hey it works for me.....

Come home, down a couple cold ones, and forget about the day...

I will not even start about today......need another beer............................
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 1:29:46 PM EST
Well, for whatever it's worth, the industry is construction. I'm a project manager and 2 of my subordinates are assistant PMs, one is a superintendent, and the other is a secretary. Essentially there is no real "work" that any of us need to do. It's all either supervisory or paperwork (i.e. supervising the subcontractors or doing paperwork that has to do with supervising the subcontractors). The only real "product" we have are reports, logs, and the billing (which I handle all by myself).

You are right, the VP isn't around much, but honestly that's a good thing. The only thing he does when he shows up is find more reports and logs that he wants us to do, mostly to make up for the fact that he's never there. Catch 22 huh?
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 1:33:17 PM EST
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 1:37:30 PM EST
My brother has a great response to people who complain that the task at hand is too difficult.

He says, "Getting up in the morning and coming in is hard. Once you get here it's just work and it all pays the same."
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 1:44:13 PM EST

Since the boss is fairly new, have you invited him spend a few days with you and your crew? Does he know what you do? Maybe you have to train him. Sit him down and ask him what he really wants. Then go through what you do and his answers are probably already in current reports. He just doesn't know how they are created and reported.

Idiot or not, he has the same goal as you and your crew. Maximize company profit while keeping workers reasonably happy or content.
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 1:45:59 PM EST
He, heh........the only job I ever got fired from was right here in AZ.

I got fired after a meeting during which I was asked what my opinion of my boss's ability was. She was sitting beside me.

I said that I thought she was barely qualified to be the receptionist, much less the manager of a department, and that after working with her I understood fully why a VP that was recently laid off fired her after reviewing her job performance. I also said that with the poor state that the company was in it seemed important to me to have individuals with experience and a constant drive to succeed rather than individauls that spent 90% of their time surfing the internet and really only had a job because they were a longtime friend of the owner of the company.

I had already been looking for another job, went on some interviews, and the day they fired me I had a second interview with another company that hired me that day. So I was unemployed a grand total of about 12 hours.

(I had successfully-for 6 years-run a "business within a business" for a Fortune 100 company in PRK so I believe I was qualified to make those statements)

Sometimes the mold-instead of the cream-rises to the top. I worked for a large company in Bridgeton, MO and I actually witnessed nepotism on a grand scale and worthless individuals promoted and sent to new territories just to get them out of other people's way.

I worked for a backward-assed company out of Oakland, CA that made money and stayed in business in spite of themselves.

It happens. I'm glad I'm self employed now and I'm glad I have the experience of working within large companies with people in positions of authority that have little or no common sense.
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 1:54:11 PM EST
I think part of the problem is that I was recently promoted myself. The 6 projects that I'm managing are my first stab at being the boss and at being a PM. I can't go to him for advice on how we do things though because he doesn't know himself.

To those that said the answer to "why?" is "because I said so", I don't work that way. I always question everything, and unless someone has a valid why I won't be able to do the task completely, if at all. My last boss understood this and would take the time to explain the why of things. I think part of the problem is that my current boss doesn't know why himself. I can't expect my subordinates to just accept things "just because" just like I refuse to accept them.

The boss was by the jobsite today and I literally almost walked out. I have hung up on him in the past (oops, guess the cell phone dropped the call....) and have a hard time not telling him to shut the hell up in meetings (hasn't happened yet but it's brewing). These projects were supposed to be done by now so when it started I was tolerant, but now with owner delays and change order we're looking at extending to April or so.

I guess I could look at it as "if I'm miserable the employees should be too". I have been pretty succesful with my management style so far whenever it doesn't involve orders from the VP.
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 2:01:19 PM EST
You never did tell us what you drive tough guy. Since you work in the shitty construction business, I'd say a pickup of some kind.

I still think you are a whiney bitch. If you worked for me I'd turn you into an unemployment statistic.

Suck it up and deal with it.
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 2:04:15 PM EST
I had the ARFCOM nightmare co-workers last summer... 2 utterly incompetant examples of affirmative action-protected groups.

Department head was a lazy (slept over half of the workday), black, token 18 year old (you know "adult" supervision?) who lost sight of exactly who knew what the fuck was going on (the past 3 years, while I was working in the department, he was doing something completely different, and the only training he got was from me, in the form of, "they used to....")

I was senior crewmember, and also probably the best at what I did on the whole campstaff, bar NONE. (I was only 17, hence no shot at Dept Head job)

Junior crewmember was a lazy, fucking incompetent female who failed to do her job and went off and cried to anyone that she could find about how I was too mean after I started riding her ass to make sure her work got done (AND NO, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, I DID NOT STICK IT IN HER POOPER AND WILL NOT POST PICS... she's too big even for the recent (not-quite-)BOTD thread)...

What'd I do? kicked it up the chain of command, made sure the camp director knew the real story when I got fragged on my mid-season eval, and above all DID MY JOB... didn't give them any reason to believe the eval was true, but didn't make my coworker's jobs any easier than necessary.
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 2:36:28 PM EST

Originally Posted By 944turbo:
You never did tell us what you drive tough guy. Since you work in the shitty construction business, I'd say a pickup of some kind.

I still think you are a whiney bitch. If you worked for me I'd turn you into an unemployment statistic.

Suck it up and deal with it.



awe, boohooo, still so sensitive about your little go-kart?

I'll betcha titles my truck cost more than your 20 year old slow-poke.
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 6:55:05 AM EST
Tagged for my own reference. I have some stuff that might be able to help you, norman74. Will assemble and post or forward when I can.

Tough it out, pal. You didn't get the promotion by being a f-up. You've got what it takes.
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 7:06:22 AM EST

Originally Posted By norman74:
I have hung up on him in the past (oops, guess the cell phone dropped the call....)



Nope, never done that, nope, never, not once...

Link Posted: 9/23/2004 7:22:23 AM EST
I work for a small company (150 employees) that is really great. I've been there for 12 years. I am now a member of the upper management. When I started, as with all of us, I was just a hired worker. Our boss/owner was pretty hot headed, and would really jump your shit if you were goofing around. But it was pretty rare. And he would forgive and forget within 5 minutes. Anyway, the several times I got yelled at, it was mostly deserved. But, sometimes it was just a matter of circumstances beyond my control. I found that if I threw him a curveball while he was pissed, he would just shake his head and walk away. Once, in boss' mid-yell, I asked him why he thought the workers preferred Wendy's over McDonalds. The look on his face was priceless, and he shook his head and walked away. don't know if you can use this technique or not. Doubtful. But it was fun to do "back in the day".
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 8:44:53 AM EST
Norm, I'll try to keep this constructive.

He's older then you, right? More experienced? Better educated? Maybe there's a reason he's the VP and you're not. You might want to try to understand what the higher ups see in him. He must be doing SOMETHING they like.

Did it ever occur to you that maybe he knows things that you don't that cause him to make the decisions he does? Do you know all the facts he does? If you did, maybe what he does wouldn't seem stupid to you.

If he's the idiot you say he is, he shouldn't last long. He obviously has alot of visibility with the higher ups and they won't tolerate paying him a VP salary if he doesn't produce. Maybe if he's a relative.

If he has any say in your career, you might wanna not run around and call him an idiot. Word gets around.

In sum, you might want to make more of an effort to understand his motivations better. Trust me, it's a different world as a VP than a manager.

Good luck man.
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 9:03:02 AM EST

Originally Posted By norman74:
I think part of the problem is that I was recently promoted myself. The 6 projects that I'm managing are my first stab at being the boss and at being a PM. I can't go to him for advice on how we do things though because he doesn't know himself.

To those that said the answer to "why?" is "because I said so", I don't work that way. I always question everything, and unless someone has a valid why I won't be able to do the task completely, if at all. My last boss understood this and would take the time to explain the why of things. I think part of the problem is that my current boss doesn't know why himself. I can't expect my subordinates to just accept things "just because" just like I refuse to accept them.



There's your problem right there. You're expecting logic and reasoning from the corporate ladder. I've worked at Enron, ConocoPhillips and now a very high dollar retailer, and one thing was always made abundantly clear: there is rarely any logic or reasoning involved in what anyone is doing. As the saying goes "understanding is not necessary for compliance."

I work for a boss that has been a manager of my department for over 14 years. And you'd think that in 14 years this boss would have learned something about the field, but that is not the case. The boss is a hard worker, constantly putting in 14-16+ hour days, but I do not think the concept of working smarter and not harder has ever occurred to her. The director that the boss reports to has been working in the field for 25 years. What's worse is that he doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to anything relevant in our field for the past 10 years ago. And he's a major asshole to boot.

Case in point. We had a large audit company come in last year and look at how we did business. They found a laundry list of bad things that needed to be addressed. Instead of taking that list and implementing good solutions, the company decided that they wanted to simply band-aid each of the problems so that they could show they deal with the audit points. Unfortunately what they fail to understand is that when the same audit happens next year, it won't be "You don't have any policies," it will be "Your policies are not adequate or up to industry standards" and we'll look back to executive management again. And then we'll try and fix the problem again instead of doing it right the first time.

There's absolutely zero strategic planning in the company that doesn't happen in a vacuum. We can be working on a huge project, but no one will think about the impact the project will have on other projects.

So yeah, your boss gives you shit to do that you don't understand. Since he's your boss, your job is to do what he says. If you don't like it, learn to cope or get a new job. I look every day.

Remember the Alamo, and God Bless Texas...
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 9:06:16 AM EST

Originally Posted By 944turbo:
Norm, I'll try to keep this constructive.


Thank you.


He's older then you, right?

Yes

More experienced?

yes and no. In general in the industry, yes. For this particular type of construction and delivery method? no.


Better educated?


No. I have a BA in architecture and an MS in construction management. He has a BA in construction. Since this is a design/build my education is substantially more applicable.

Maybe there's a reason he's the VP and you're not. You might want to try to understand what the higher ups see in him. He must be doing SOMETHING they like.

Funny you should mention that. He's old friends with the two owners. However he's rapidly getting a reputation around the company as an idiot.


Did it ever occur to you that maybe he knows things that you don't that cause him to make the decisions he does? Do you know all the facts he does? If you did, maybe what he does wouldn't seem stupid to you.


and that brings us back to the "why". If he has a reason, he's keeping it to himself. Or, more correctly, his reasons suck. Generally he tells me to do something stupid, I ask why, he gives me his reason, I tell him 15 ways that his reason sucks, and he gets pissed.


If he's the idiot you say he is, he shouldn't last long. He obviously has alot of visibility with the higher ups and they won't tolerate paying him a VP salary if he doesn't produce. Maybe if he's a relative.


See above about the friend thing.


If he has any say in your career, you might wanna not run around and call him an idiot. Word gets around.


This is a VERY good point. Fortunately I'm not the only one who thinks so, and I generally make it a habit not to say so in front of anyone else. However it's hard not to show what I think by my actions.


In sum, you might want to make more of an effort to understand his motivations better. Trust me, it's a different world as a VP than a manager.


Roger that. I have no desire to be in his job. He's basically a failure that had to go to work for someone else. He had his own GC company that went in the shitter (I'm beginning to understand why) and his old pals gave him a job out of pitty.
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 10:09:42 PM EST
"Funny you should mention that. He's old friends with the two owners. However he's rapidly getting a reputation around the company as an idiot."

The guys that work for you will know soon enough that he is underqualified,. His old friends will realize that he isn't making them money. You need to do your best to keep things on an even keel.

There's a fine line between insubordination and trying to get him to see the light. I was usually given a relatively loose loop, after a re-organization they made the senior peer the supervisor. He had 5-10 years company and overall experience than the rest of us but had no "Management" experience. But until he royally screwed up we were stuck with him. After the third time I asked him to put directions in writing as policy since that was a change from the written policy, he figured out that when I asked for something in writing he was making a mistake. A firm believer in doing things the easy way for us even if it was a problem for our customers he was a dolt. There were also several times that in meetings his Boss asked me why I had done things the way I had and not other ways that made it easier for our customers but not as easy for us. My answer was I did as I was told. Well she knew who the problem was and he couldn't complain.

If necessary go above him, but you better have your ducks in a row, and be able to show that the cost to the company is unacceptable.



Link Posted: 9/24/2004 6:07:00 AM EST
By what you say, your worries may be over soon. Even his friends will get tired of keeping this guy around if he is the loser you describe him as. Bad decisions losing them money will turn the friendship quickly.

If I were in your shoes, I'd keep my shit together, hang tough, sit back and watch while this guy self destructs. And minimize what bad shit I said about him, at least where it could get back to him. People like that tend to want to take others down with them when they destruct.

I've been in similar circumstances, and the fvckups can't be contained forever. I even got promoted when the incompetent I worked for got shown the door. Double sweet!

Good luck. Be patient.
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