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I'm on the verge of being promoted to manager, but first I have to prove that I can actually manage a team. Or something like that. It's a raw deal.

A co-worker that has seniority over me was added to my team. He doesn't want to be a manager, but is micromanaging the new hires. He convinced the higher ups that they need training, but that training is demotivating them according to one-on-one meetings I had with them. A junior engineer left this week, one of the interns already signed that he wants to leave after less than two months and the latest hire is already worrying me.

He's not really working much because he's spending too much time with the training. On top of that, I don't have time to manage properly, since he's not working his due and I'm already overworking to cover for him and for the other workers that left.

I try not to be a slavedriver, but we should at least find some balance. When I was in my (mandatory) vacation he did ZERO of the work he was assigned to.

He's a great guy and a good friend, but frankly I'm getting burned out from the overwork, the lack of sleep and people complaining at me that my team is moving too slow.

Is there anything I could do? I already signaled to my boss and the CEO that he's not working his share, but they're not doing anything, and frankly they're giving me vibes like "be a better manager".

I know I'm far from being good as a manager and a lot of this is my fault, so don't worry about giving me a hard time here.

  • Are you a manager or not? "be a better manager" implies you already are, so how can this person be more senior to you? – HorusKol Apr 5 at 14:02
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    @HorusKol It's complicated. I wasn't a manager, but I was "being evaluated" to become one according to the CEO. My co-worker used to be a manager until last year but was demoted (nothing to do with me). Due to local laws he can't get a wage reduction. That's how he got seniority. I resigned and moved on after giving an ultimatum, btw. – user102411 Apr 11 at 5:03
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There is no such thing as a "soon to be manager"

You:

  • Have no authority in which to discipline coworkers, especially those senior to you
  • Have limited ability to influence this person's behaviour
  • His productivity is not your responsibility
  • The real managers have signaled that they don't care enough to do anything about it.

You're being handed the classic poisoned chalice. Either get the authority to manage, or don't try to be one. If you carry on this way, you'll either go insane, or damage your career and working relationships.

Edit: He's not forcing training either. He's convinced management that they need it, and it's happening. He was authorized to require the training to be completed.

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    You are absolutely right. I should be already looking for another job. About the "soon to be", it's an arrangement I made with the CEO. It's a completely raw deal and I should have known better. – user102411 Apr 5 at 2:22
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    @ffhs: I think the real take from this isn't "find another job" but rather go to your management and get the actual management authority. Right now you aren't showing that you are management material because you aren't going after it. Go get it. – NotMe Apr 5 at 2:38
  • @NotMe I kinda am, IMO. I'm doing everything by the book (at least that's what HR says). I'm responsible for the team's productivity, I have to conduct one-on-one meetings, I have metrics to show, my promotions depend on the productivity of the team (not just mine), I interview and hire candidates. On top of that the CEO is pissed about the work that's not being done and involved more people. Anyways, I think it's just a case of him not trusting me. – user102411 Apr 5 at 7:03
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    @NotMe If you're doing the work of a manager without the pay and title, you're taking on responsibility you absolutely shouldn't be because you're a de-facto supervisor at that point, and things can get really dicey because at that point you get all of the responsibility and none of the rewards for it. All you're doing is assuming risk while they reap all of the rewards. – Malisbad Apr 5 at 7:48
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    @NotMe Thanks for the answer. I gave an ultimatum to my direct boss about either making me an actual manager with autonomy to do those things or stopping requiring me from doing manager stuff. They said "not yet" and I resigned on the spot. – user102411 Apr 5 at 16:22
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First work out what you think should be done, what you would do if you were a manager with full authority over your team.

For example, do the new employees need training? If so, what sort of training and how should it be run? If not, why not?

Your senior colleague is failing to complete assigned tasks, and spending too much time on the training. Is it time for a performance improvement plan, or might some less formal discussion help?

Once you are clear on what you would do if you were the manager, go back to your boss and the CEO. Explain that these are the steps you think should be taken. In order to have a fair shot at demonstrating you can manage a team, you either need authority to act yourself, or you need your boss to act on your specific recommendations.

  • I already went trough this conversation twice with the CEO but he still thinks it's too soon to make my new job official. The co-worker has not delivered any assignment in the last five months, including a task that the CEO deemed extremely critical for the business. He keeps making excuses about how the training and other random non-work stuff is making him busy. He's a nice guy, but I guess misguided and not really that competent. Writing it all up makes it seem so simple. I guess I know exactly what to do, I just don't have any power. – user102411 Apr 5 at 4:44
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    They don't need to promote you or give you direct power if they think it is too soon. They do need to act on your recommendations if they are serious about letting you demonstrate management ability. – Patricia Shanahan Apr 5 at 6:37
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    @ffhs: did you tell the CEO you want to put this employee on a performance improvement plan or start the paperwork to have him fired? If you layout the case that this person is toxic to the team, is failing in every measurable way and absolutely needs to go AND the CEO refuses to back you then that's a problem with the company. If you haven't laid out the case about this one person and given the CEO the way to resolve it then that's a problem with you. – NotMe Apr 5 at 13:52
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    @NotMe I did. He (CEO) and another two people started "helping me", but nothing seriously has been done or talked about the poor performance of the co-worker. They do recognize his slowness and slack is a bit toxic (asked me to handle new hires directly), but they're not taking change, allowing me to do anything, or allowing me to change things so he can stop affecting MY performance and day-to-day work. Frankly, they're trying but they're not committing to anything that might work. I'm too tired and burned out to fight. I believe I'll have to threaten to leave... or just leave. – user102411 Apr 5 at 14:46
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    Thanks for the answer. I gave an ultimatum and they said "Not Yet" so I acted on it resigned on the spot. I appreciate the help and perspective everyone on this thread gave me. – user102411 Apr 5 at 16:23

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