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I think I got a very toxic direct manager. I recently graduated college and this is my first job, don’t know what to do. So here’s a list of toxic things he’s done :

  1. I discussed some ideas with him related to the portfolio we were working with and with a meeting with head of the division, he discussed those ideas with him without giving me any credit
  2. I woke up till late at night to complete some work for a senior guy and he basically told me never to do that again, but does the same thing himself
  3. We have to give updates to the head and he inflates what he helped me with by a lot, chooses the words such that it seems he did most of the heavy loading

I want to confront him but it’s probably a very bad idea, after all he’s gonna give the performance appraisal that decides my bonus.

Asking for advice on what to do moving forward? I would like to get the credit I deserve for the things I do in the projects I'm assigned to.

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    Probably not. It's probably just someone (not me) who thinks this isn't a question as much as a rant. Is there a question that you're asking here? Sep 12 '20 at 20:15
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    Yeah asking advice on what to do moving forward, I can’t have him stealing credit for my work. What’s worse is that we are have to first 3 project joint, so I can “learn” from him, he hardly teaches me anything and just takes credit
    – Zuck
    Sep 12 '20 at 20:18
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    I had someone do that to me several times. Then left a « solution » which had a fatal flaw for them to take... they ran with it and I followed with the correction :) went down well with my colleagues as this person was stealing work from all.
    – Solar Mike
    Sep 12 '20 at 20:22
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    How did the manager present the idea to the head of division and how do you want him to present it? I wouldn't usually expect individual contributions to be highlighted in such a meeting, as it would be understood as the result of the team's collaborative effort anyways.
    – Helena
    Sep 12 '20 at 20:25
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    @Zuck Your question is not really a question. What is it precisely that you want to know? Generic "advice how to move forward" is not a good question format for SE. You may want to clarify the desired outcome under the given constraints. Sep 12 '20 at 20:27
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I'd like to give you a gentle frame challenge. As you say, this is your first job. You have heard about toxic managers, and you think you've spotted one. What you don't know is just how toxic some managers can be. (Take a look through the tag to see some of the things people are dealing with.) This manager sounds pretty normal to me.

To take it point by point:

  1. It's perfectly normal, in a meeting with other departments or superiors, for a manager to say "I" or "we" are going to do something, or have done something, or have ideas, without specifically naming which member of the manager's team is involved. It's great when your boss broadcasts good things about you outside your team, but it's never "toxic" not to do so.

  2. It's also normal for bosses to gently suggest that working super late at night on non-urgent tasks is best avoided, even when that boss breaks the rule sometimes themselves. I did all sorts of things I told my staff not to do. This isn't necessarily "toxic", just inconsistent. (or to be more accurate, giving you a general "don't do that" rule while they follow a more nuanced rule that includes the narrow circumstances when you can do that.)

  3. Again when bosses report what their teams did, they often take credit, since they told you to do it. This is less of an issue than you think it is.

It's great that you want the whole company to know what you did and that you're good at your job. You will not achieve that by demanding of your boss that you get credit in these meetings. If you are actually in the meetings with these other people when your boss discusses things you worked on, that's great. It means you're being included.

Confronting your boss will not change these patterns but could hurt your progress in your job. What can you do instead? Well, listen to how the boss describes the work of others on your team. If nobody is getting mentioned, you know that's how the boss rolls. You also know, I'm sure, that the company doesn't pay the salaries of all the people who report to your boss while believing that in fact your boss does all of it single-handedly. Right?

If others are mentioned and you are not, then you could, in a one-on-one later, ask something like "I was wondering why you mentioned that Pat and Chris were working on the XYZ project but for my ABC project you didn't mention me by name?" Then listen to the answer. It will help you know what to do next.

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  • I get what you’re saying but my situation is a bit different. He is supposed to be my mentor/manager for the first few projects. He hardly does any mentoring though. Also my work is not assigned by him, it’s done by more senior people who interact with me directly as I know better on what I’m working with. But when it comes to meetings within our division all the stuff happens as I described. Also the project is assigned to me and not the team, we don’t have team projects in our firm, he was supposed to mentor me on it.
    – Zuck
    Sep 12 '20 at 20:48
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    @Zuck well, then if the project is assigned to you solely then it's evident that you are the one doing most of the work involved, regardless of the fact that your manager says "I" or some other phrasing. With all due respect, Kate gave you a very useful answer and frame challenge. I feel you are a bit stubborn/rigid with your stance. I get it, this can be a bit frustrating or confusing to you as your first job, but try to leave those biases behind and really analyze the message and knowledge Kate is trying to share with you.
    – DarkCygnus
    Sep 12 '20 at 20:55
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    I really appreciate Kate’s answer, was just trying to clear up some differences and trying to know would the same apply in those conditions too. And I saw the manager tab and there’s some horrible ones, mine doesn’t seem too bad in comparison. I won’t confront him directly, maybe hint him over drinks someday when the office reopens! Thank you Kate and Cygnus!
    – Zuck
    Sep 12 '20 at 21:02
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    @Zuck If you come to the conclusion that he is not the worst of managers (and it doesn't sound like he is - the scale has a lot of levels below what you describe), then do not mention it, certainly not over drinks. Observe and learn and speak less than you are tempted to. I found this advice never to be wrong when I followed it. Sep 12 '20 at 21:21
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    @Zuck I think that managers follow the Normal Distribution, with some skew to the negatives. I also think that the manager in your internship was above the average, perhaps even significantly above. Yes, don't hold that past manager you had as the norm or average.
    – DarkCygnus
    Sep 13 '20 at 1:01
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@Zuck, I would cut your manager some slack at this stage.

When you refer to him discussing your ideas with the head, you have to understand that it is not necessarily his role to originate ideas, but to gather, select, develop, and communicate good ideas that originate in the milieu of his team.

That is, it is not simply your idea that has been presented, but an idea that has now been refracted through his judgment and expertise, and which he is now personally endorsing to his head.

Also, it's possible the head likes your manager to be a bit of a dancing bear, and your manager over-egging his contribution is less designed to be an affront to you, but an indulgence to a superior who demands a constant sales pitch, or an expression of the insecurity of your manager's position - and thus, the problem may be less your manager, but the head, or the overall culture of the firm.

Either way, your manager seems to have no reason to be dissatisfied with you, and I can't see any reason why he won't praise your performance in turn. The behaviour as stated does not seem to be "toxic".

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