This is difficult and I'm new here so some context first before I ask the question.

I'm not very good at going to management to tell them stuff. I like to get on and do and listen to the politicking and positioning but not participate, the only times I stick my head over the parapet is if a colleague is being treated unfairly.

I've got a really "pointy haired boss" (sorry for saying that, but it feels the quickest way to describe him) and he went to the CEO to complain about me. This was because the CFO had asked me to do some presentations at very short notice (three days, 2x 1 hour powerpoints and deliver them).

It gets back to me about the complaint, because unsurprisingly, the CEO consulted with the CFO and agreed with the CFO. Mainly because the presentation was to the global group CFO's and I know these numbers intimately as its actually in my job title. The following day I got thanks from the CEO, CFO and COO about how well the presentations went down and now all the global group heads want to know our secret sauce - actually its their leadership.

Now I'm nearly sure that my boss neglected to tell the CEO of all the times he's got me to do his work on top of mine, meaning its always down to the line, just about getting my work in or getting it their just good enough and sometimes just past due date. Its always well received though - which often surprises me when I get the commendations passed from other managers. BTW my manager had decided I'm in a "hybrid role", no actual official paperwork about it. And from conversations, I think I'm the only one who knows this or has been told this. Not only that, there are quite a number of situations where I've uncovered things that haven't been done by my manager and he'll say that he's dealing with it, I leave it at that as I've learnt from experience that my life at work becomes much more miserable if I enquire further.

Its not a good way to work, the CFO does know about this as he's frequently had to attend my managers meetings that I'm running and then doing his work from the meeting outputs, my manager does attend, talking over the top of me as I'm sorting, shuffling and assigning work and assessing incoming work, that is actually my managers job description.

I feel its time I go to the CEO and spill the beans as to what's been going on and I'm at the point where I feel I have to say I can no longer do this particular job, working under these circumstances and I need to be reassigned somewhere away from my manager or agree that this isn't possible so leave on amicable terms. I really would prefer the former as the Senior leadership team is actually excellent and I do know that they will listen to me.

This situation is ruining my mental health, its making me doubt myself massively, the other members of my team "appear" to get treated differently. The work I assign to them to get done gets backlogged by my manager and it looks like he gives preferential treatment, but that's just a feeling. Its making me doubt my reality.

Frankly, I'm scared to knock on the door and say "Hello, I have a problem I'd like to talk to you about", but I feel that I would just end up sounding like a "stirrer" or a "Tell Tale". Frankly, I'm terrified to do anything because the repercussions will be horrible.

To add some additional context I'm a WFH single parent (no support) whose also schooling from home too, this is also impacting my ability to work as effectively as I'd like to.

After reading the above, I do think I'm justified in going to talk to the CEO and even folding in the CFO. It's just I'm not confident about being justified. I want to do this soon, with in days. I'm at my wits end and I don't think I'll have the time to be able to gather evidence and I know my co-workers will not be supportive and not want to be involved.

It feels like classic whistleblowing from my compliance training.

How can I achieve that next step which is the knock on the door to explain any of this?

  • I don't think you've mentioned anywhere what is your position in the company?
    – Aida Paul
    Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 11:30
  • @Tymoteusz Paul If you mean in reporting order? CEO -> Head of - > my line manager -> me. Why he didn't go to our head of, I just realised that. That's very odd indeed, really very odd. The CFO does include my Head of in requests, though. I just checked its not a though he's on leave. Does that help at all?
    – wfhsfh2020
    Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 12:10
  • 7
    Your first step is probably to sum up the problem with more clarity than is being done here... The problem is that... Your boss is delegating work to you?
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 12:13
  • That's is a bit more focused, yes there is the delegation aspect, which removes me from my actual work, which when questions are raised, the actual delegations are not brought up and my line manager tells people he's actually done the work delegated
    – wfhsfh2020
    Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 12:17
  • 4
    Before you do anything you should make up your mind about what is the problem and what you want, because you weren't able to write it down here, I expect that you won't be able to explain it in a personal call with the CEO either.
    – Chris
    Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 22:04

3 Answers 3


I would suggest approaching this in a much more positive light, not by complaining about your manager, but by pointing out that the work you actually do and have done recommends you for a higher position, and whether this is something that can be achieved within the company.

Prepare the instances of work that you have done as examples, since you think ( or know ) that they were actually assigned to your manager, you basically know you can fulfill the demands of that position.

Then tell him that given your competency, you feel you are ready for such a position.

Be prepared to answer the question why you did not bring that up with your pointy haired manager - I would make it short, but as concise as possible. If the CFO understands his business, he will take the hint. Otherwise, be prepared with details.

This approach carries the implication that if nothing happens, you'll be out there looking for the position you want outside of the company - an implication that's hard to miss, but I would not put it to the CFO openly. "Promote me or I quit" is, IMO, not a great approach.

Having just been approached by the higher ups ( CFO, CEO, COO ), this is, in my opinion, an opportunity for you.

This solves the problems you're having with your pointy haired manager in that, from your description, any way up means being promoted to the same or higher level than him.

The pointy haired manager likely will not take this well, but to be honest, I would not worry about that too much, since you seem quite unhappy to work for him anyway.

  • 1
    thank you I like what you've said. My home circumstances make it a scary looking for another job, but the DC's are old enough to latchkey. Don't particularly want to get on the job market. The reaction from my team regarding the presentations, really knocked me down. It was the CFO idea after all all I did was the deep research, created the model and got a different division to give it a trial and it surprised everyone by working well. There are some blockers which I mentioned above, but those can be over come with a will.
    – wfhsfh2020
    Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 19:34
  • Note that framing it in this way give the CFO the opportunity to be vague. This means that you're not forced to look for a job immediately, but also you won't see improvements immediately. The more you're ready to move on, the more forceful you can be. I would suggest being diplomatic and evaluating your company's willingness to help you first, as this is less risky in your situation. Moving on is an option either way, that does not require you to do anything within this company.
    – bytepusher
    Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 21:08

Your boss threw you under the bus but that doesn't mean the higher ups actually believe him.

Now I'm nearly sure that my boss neglected to tell the CEO of all the times he's got me to do his work on top of mine, meaning its always down to the line...

CEOs aren't idiots. They can deduce your value because your work is highly visible and they even gave you praise personally.

Talking negatively about your boss can backfire. You are way better off going for a promotion or at the very least getting a higher title which will translate to better pay in the future (at this company or elsewhere).

Yes, I did complain about a really bad boss once. The CEO even agreed with me and told me the guy was an idiot BUT absolutely zero changed. Managers tend to be what the person who hired them wanted or at the very least the person who hired them doesn't want to admit they made a mistake.

  • Thank you - I think this is more inline with my internal thinking. I'm overwhelmed at home and work and the work life balance is a mess because of Coronavirus. The personalities I've described won't change - I don't think they are able to and knowing them I think they would struggle to see other opinions and realities and be dismissive. I say that because it will be difficult not to include negative points about my boss. The actual only positive thing I could say, is that he accepted my GPF on my own performance without saying anything, which I marked as adequate, except with a thank you
    – wfhsfh2020
    Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 7:39
  • @wfhsfh2020 Set your goals for what you want your life to be and then focus on making it happen no matter what it takes (changing jobs or just getting more out of this one). See everything that gets in the way as a temporary obstacle. The other thing is I have known some major A-holes that basically robbed me of credit/ideas. But then later I realized, they will crash and burn without me having to say anything because the truth about their nature will catch up with them eventually. Good luck.
    – HenryM
    Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 17:17

Remember a CEO is just a person like you. don't feel nervous meeting him. take a deep breath and greet him with a smile on your face then describe your problems with your line manager clearly and tell him you care about the company and need more time to do your stuff. to help the CEO understand your issue, provide some specific examples where your supervisor delegated you his/her work. I am hoping you would come out this stronger.

  • Thank you as well a simple straight forward approach
    – wfhsfh2020
    Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 19:36

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