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Coming Back To A Bad Manager

January 19, 2021

Alex was a bad manager. I know because I’ve had bad managers. I tried all the normal techniques. I tried “managing up.” I tried everything.

Eventually, I was “rescued” by a senior manager, Jacob. Jacob was an executive VP. He talked to me. He talked to the client (who said wonderful things about me, fortunately.) Then, he moved me to a different manager. Actually, he put me under him, but effectively reporting to David, a Senior Director of Operations. My job didn’t change.

And suddenly I had the best job I’ve ever had. I worked effectively with David. We did great together. He trusted me and I trusted him. But, things change. They always do. David moved on and Monique took his place.

Monique thought it was somewhat odd having a Technical Program Manager reporting to her. But, the job went on great.

And then I got a call from Jacob.

I think we’re going to mkae a change.


Yeah, we’re going to move you back to Alex’s team.

I think that’s a bad idea.

Yeah, I figured you wouldn’t be too happy with it. But, it’s the best decision for the company.

Well, I’m sure it will be fine. We’re both professionals. I’m sure we’ll work it out.

That’s not what I wanted to say. In fact, it was the exact opposite of what I wanted to say. But, Jacob wasn’t asking for my opinion. And it was obvious he’d already made up his mind. My reaction to the news was going to have a big effect on my job. Even if I immediately went looking for another one, which was my intention, I still needed to maintain a professional attitude.

So, I went back to work for the worst manager I’d ever had the misfortune to work under.

An interesting thing happened. Well, two interesting things, actually.

First, Alex had been promoted during the years I wasn’t on his team. He now had team managers under him. I was assigned to Parley’s team. I still had to work with Alex, but most of my interaction was with Parley. And Parley, didn’t have the history that I had with Alex.

But, what was most interesting, was that my relationship with Alex improved. I’m not sure if he was a better manager or not. And frankly I didn’t really care.

Forwarned is forearmed

I knew what to expect going back to work for Alex. I had no illusions. I did my job, and didn’t expect much from him. And if I did need something from him, I made the request very clear and made sure it was entirely following protocol.

Did Alex suddenly think me a model employee? I have no idea. And, as I said, I didn’t really care.

But, I knew what the worst possible was in each interaction. And knowing that, I could steer it toward the positive. I guess I was still managing up, but doing it with a clear understanding of who I was dealing with. And, of course, most of my interaction was with Parley.

I decided I liked my job well enough to stay. Alex wasn’t a making my life or my job hard. And while it wasn’t as great as my interactions with David used to be, a job that you enjoy is worth keeping.

Now, if Parley had turned out to be one of the worst managers ever, then I’d have a problem.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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