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New manager is starting in 3 months, and yet she is emailing the team from her personal email with a big long list of 60 or so questions about our current work practices. Talk about a poor introduction...this has set everyone on edge. To complicate matters, our old boss is working as a contractor currently and he is still our direct supervisor, and they are not on this email. We have a deadline coming up regarding our product too, adding to the stress (software development). Unsure how the new boss has our email addresses.

What is the right process here?

On one hand, inform our current boss as they should be completing handover... or ask HR what the current status is and if we should reply to someone that has not started yet . Any of these place us in an awkward position.

closed as off-topic by Dukeling, DarkCygnus, Mister Positive, IDrinkandIKnowThings, gnat Nov 20 '17 at 21:04

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  • 60
    The only way she could have your emails is if someone gave them to her. And if someone did, they probably expected her to use them. By all means check with someone up the chain that it's ok to respond, but she most likely wants some banal details on your tooling and approach to agile working in order to hit the ground running. Quite why anyone feels on edge is absolutely beyond me. – Grimm The Opiner Nov 20 '17 at 9:11
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    Is your current boss aware that this person is going to be replacing them soon? – jpmc26 Nov 20 '17 at 9:20
  • 22
    Do not reply without asking for authorisation. Do ask for authorisation to spend working time on what seems like a lengthy job. – Kilian Foth Nov 20 '17 at 10:35
  • 6
    Why do you think asking your current boss about it would place you in an awkward situation? Unless something relevant is missing from your question, it should be completely obvious you confirm with him before responding. – JollyJoker Nov 20 '17 at 11:19
  • 18
    Why should a whole team need to answer a long list of 60 or so questions? This should have gone through your manager of his manager. First go to your manager. – paparazzo Nov 20 '17 at 12:24
157

You do not share information with anyone outside your company without your manager’s explicit authorization.

You should forward this email to your existing manager immediately, and you should not respond to it.

  • You do not know if the pending manager has been vetted and/or signed all appropriate NDA's with your new company.
  • This new manager is not yet an employee, and has no authority for you to assign your time to this task.
  • It is entirely possible that this is an attempt at corporate espionage. Even a "missing" item on your list could haunt you. ("You shouldn't hire Innotech. They don't even do Widget-based testing on their Kerfuffler development.")
  • You have not been instructed to do any of this by your existing reporting chain.

If your manager instructs you to respond, then do so. Until then, report it to your manager and await instructions. When your new manager comes on board if they ask why it was handled that way, explain that you were acting as instructed and they should talk to whomever gave you direction about the reasons.

  • 31
    I would even add you include your manager in the loop on all exchanges. Even if it is authorized, it can easily go to an area that the authorization did not intend, like giving server access. Keep your manager in the loop in all communication. If the new manager sends a private email, add the manager to the CC. – Nelson Nov 20 '17 at 11:11
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    Yup. This person is not your boss yet. CC your actual boss on all of these communications, if you even get permission to answer. – AndreiROM Nov 20 '17 at 15:14
  • @ThomasCarlisle - Sounds like you have the information to start your own answer. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Nov 20 '17 at 19:43
51

New manager is starting in 3 months, and yet she is emailing the team from her personal email with a big long list of 60 or so questions about our current work practices.

What is the right process here?

The right process is to answer the questions that are being asked. First, get permission from your current manager, so that he is kept in the loop and so that the task doesn't take time away from your current deadlines.

Your new manager is trying to get up to speed so that she will be ready to hit the ground running in 3 months when she starts. That will be good for her, and for you.

Try not to be so suspicious here. View this as a good thing, and a good way to show your new boss that you are a team player and willing to help the new person when asked. Try to make a good first impression.

  • 5
    This is the good answer, considering the future new manager preparing herself to be ready on her very first day, treating her like an outsider would be quite rude. She's pretty much part of the company now. – Walfrat Nov 20 '17 at 12:49
  • @Walfrat Exactly that is what I tried to say in my answer. – Amit Nov 20 '17 at 13:31
1

While I definitely agree with @Wesley's answer of "Not providing company information outside company" I suggest you keep HR also in loop. To safeguard your name I suggest the team should be united here and it should look like team's decision.

Also if you are sure that she will be joining the team in next few weeks. A polite mail explaining the reason won't do any harm.

Dear XXX,

Thanks for your email. We are pretty excited that you will be joining the team in upcoming weeks. As you might be already aware of that we are currently busy working on release of version NNNN of our product YYYY. So can we reply to your email after NNth of this month ?

Thank you once and looking forward to work with you,

Jacksporrow,

In this mail keep your current manager also in CC. If you have a team email address adding that will be best.

  • 35
    "We are currently busy working on..." is providing company information outside the company. If that information is not already in the public domain (as opposed to having been mentioned during her interview) then the new manager should not be told anything like this. – Andrew Leach Nov 20 '17 at 8:45
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    I fail to see how the claims in your opening statement apply to the given situation. HR is not even involved here, how do you conclude that there is "bad" HR culture at play here? How does over enthusiasm destroy team morale here? Also, why might the new manager "be already aware" of the team's deadlines when she has not even joined the team? Why would you drag HR into the loop? This person is most likely going to be your boss in a few weeks time, getting HR involved might not be a good start to your relationship with her. – Masked Man Nov 20 '17 at 13:41
  • @MaskedMan If HR is not involved here How the outsider got the email addresses and names of the team. HR or someone from the team has passed this information to the new hire and in either case shouldn't HR be informed about what is going on ? – Amit Nov 27 '17 at 5:50
  • So this candidate has got email addresses of the team members, and you are jumping to the conclusion that HR must have given those. If HR had to share the contact details, they would have shared the current manager's contact details, not of the individual team members. The OP clearly states that the current manager is missing from the email. So, it seems fairly clear that HR is not involved. There also doesn't seem to be any good reason to get HR involved, it is only to make the complaint more "official" which will only make things worse. – Masked Man Nov 27 '17 at 6:24
  • Aren't you are assuming here that "If HR had to share the contact details, they would have shared the current manager's contact details, not of the individual team members." – Amit Jan 23 '18 at 11:26
-2

Sometimes we overcomplicate things by thinking too much about them and then stress ourselves out. I would set up a Online meeting with your new boss, current boss, other relevant team mates and you with the agenda to discuss the transition. Everyone needs to be a professional and determine the next course of action

  • 3
    Not this persons job to set the boundaries and expectations. – paparazzo Nov 20 '17 at 16:46
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    Well who is currently most impacted by the current situation? It is antiquated to find someone else to fix a problem which is easily fixable by a quick call with all the relevant people talking. Miscommunication is a big factor on spoilt manager relationships – Aman Arneja - MSFT Nov 20 '17 at 16:48
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    @AmanArneja-MSFT but if you're breaking policy by making that quick call (as is a certainty if they signed nda's), then it's a bad choice. It's far from antiquated to find the RIGHT person to fix the problem (the manager) – user76296 Nov 20 '17 at 17:50
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    Isnt someone low on the food chain stepping up to do this, potentially creating conflict with their existing management? If not perhaps you could clear up your answer to explain why taking initiative on this would be acceptable. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Nov 20 '17 at 19:49
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    Honestly if no one else is taking the initiative someone should, rather than wait for someone else and suffer in silence might as well take the initiative... What's the WORST that might happen from the current situation someone might tell you off, even if they do, you now have made people aware of the problem without breaking off the relationship with your future manager. If someone else wants they can take over the initiative.. In today's world the ones who take the initiative are the ones who get ahead – Aman Arneja - MSFT Nov 20 '17 at 23:06

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