I am working for Indian Outsourcing Organization. I have joined Onsite team for new project 2 months back. Below are the some points that I See risk for team.

(1) Manager doesn't listen much, doesn't lead much, doesn't consider team members opinions or concerns. Hence team doesn't get much visibility and clarity about project and situations in the project.

(2) Very apprehensive about documentation any communication. All the communication and commitments occurs verbally and sometimes the communication is very indirect also. The result of which any risk happens in project we don't have any option to defend ourself. Finally team has to suffer consequences if any bad thing happens.

(3) Since there is no proper guiding and leading, many times the actions, the decisions team member takes does not backed up by Organization policies and team members are at their own risk.

At this situation how to handle this manager in order to avoid further risk to team and project?

Updates based on Responses:
The major problem here is manager is highly discouraging documenting those facts. I have tried to document many times. Firstly my boss doesn't replies to my emails in which I am asking for confirmations/clarifications. He just calls me or talk to me and gave verbal clarifications. One day I got too warning from my boss saying that, If you have any questions just ask me, or call me or don't write mails.

  • 1
    Hey BVR, I can't figure out what you are actually asking in your question. Could you please try to edit it to make it a bit clearer? All I got out of that is 'my manager is bad and there is nothing I can do about it, what should I do?' -- that isn't really something any of us can answer...
    – jmac
    Oct 8, 2013 at 1:42
  • @jmac, I have modified my question. The question the manager is not trustworthy which we can not rely on. What are the precautions that we have to take to protect ourself from the risk
    – Babu
    Oct 8, 2013 at 1:57
  • It's very clear that (2) exists because of (1). You can't make a bad manager into a good one; you can only hope to overcome the liability a bit.
    – Debra
    Oct 13, 2013 at 17:02

1 Answer 1


Executive Summary

  1. Document everything
  2. Confirm important details with e-mails
  3. Escalate if Necessary

Document Everything

If your boss insists on communicating verbally so as not to leave a paper trail, be sure to keep personal records of what he says and when yourself. You do not have to send them, but they will allow you to make sure you know what he has said before in case he gives you conflicting information or otherwise changes direction. Having the information written down will allow you to say something like:

Hey manager, last week you told me X, now you're telling me Y. Could you explain the reason behind the change?

If you do not keep records of what he said, you are relying on your memory about things said weeks or even months before. Being able to tie what he said to certain dates or times will help you get a better picture of what he's doing.

Confirm Important Details with E-mails

Protect yourself with e-mails to confirm important details. While he may not like them, if something does go wrong and he didn't respond to the e-mail, you have a record that you tried to confirm. For instance, if he calls you up and tells you to do X, you can send a quick e-mail saying:

Hey manager, on the phone you told me to do X by date Y. I will get right on that.

If you get in trouble for doing X, the most he can do is say that he called you up and told you not to do X. If you CC relevant team members, that will call in to question why he just called you rather than responding to an e-mail to send a clear message. This makes it harder for him to weasel his way out of discussions and leaves a record.

Escalate if Necessary

Hopefully you are able to protect yourself by keeping good records and making note via e-mail of important decisions he has made on the projects. If there are still unresolved problems (if you are still getting in trouble for decisions that were his responsibility) you can use the documentation you've kept to appeal to your bosses. This is a last resort -- going over your manager's head, even with good documentation, is likely to end poorly.

  • 2
    Well written. I'd add that documenting your mails to your team/him means if you are OOO your team can continue to function, and he can quickly clear up any misunderstandings from the phone call. Oct 8, 2013 at 7:20
  • Has anyone, anywhere, been in a position where they are being let go and this email trail helps them? IME, the first someone knows this is happening is when he's called into HR after the decision has already been made. At that point, I don't think trotting out a bunch of contrary evidence would help. Oct 11, 2013 at 1:35
  • @Amy, In my experience, having the e-mail trail confirming decisions by a manager hinders the manager's ability to pivot and blame you for doing what was told in the first place. So if the manager says, "Do Task A" and you don't confirm with an e-mail, he can send a nasty e-mail saying, "Why didn't you do Task B like I told you on the phone?" and use that as a record of your incompetence if they want to fire you. If there is an e-mail with no response confirming that the manager asked you to do A, this is more difficult. It is not a solution, it is a preventative measure better than nothing.
    – jmac
    Oct 11, 2013 at 1:43
  • Amy - no, it won't save someone's job. The most you can do is to bring it to the attention of a higher manager, and hope they read it all. And then, it's only worth doing so if you're capable of writing a cogent and brief summary. Even then, it's likely to be seen as sour grapes; horrible managers can advance on the backs of their hard-working subordinates. (I know those are harsh words, but it seems the reality for certain situations.)
    – Debra
    Oct 13, 2013 at 17:04
  • I once tried the asking for things in writing with my manager and he said "it's expected you be able to do things you are verbally told in this job"
    – Arnakester
    Oct 24, 2013 at 1:11

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