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So I have started a new job and the manager I feel is quite incompetent. She didn't oversee the old employee (whom I replaced) and blames him for the state of affairs when I think as a manager she should have done some managing and overseeing.

She also has no clue about her department, or the job we are doing and is constantly asking us questions. (I am trying to be vague but also give some info)

I was thinking of telling her manager the situation as I feel she is not adding anything despite taking a hefty salary and we can either replace her or I become the manager as I feel like I have the knowledge of the industry and up to date standards. The reason I am holding back is because what if her manager doesn't take me seriously I don't want to have friction or 'bad blood'

Edited: So its not a totally new job - i have been there couple of months so I know whats happening. Its a tech space and I know she has made few mistakes:

  • not overseeing what the prev employee did so the code is of poor quality resulting in delays in changes/new features as a result of not keeping code DRY, using modern principles. Also not caring how the old employee did stuff as long as they did it, it was fine (no github/version control system, old employee just pushed file to live server)
  • not managing the workflow so things have been delayed
  • not pitching in as its relatively small company so the manager shouldnt be hands off, she should be chipping in
  • not being able to make tech decisions, and asking me what we should be doing when this should be HER job as she is a manager.
  • not having a clue about how useless the old employee was, how many bugs/overview/state of the programme is which has meant angry clients
  • no modern process like sprints or w/e and just going the old 1990s way.
  • letting previous employee switch from a new language to old language because thats what they knew. (imaging uber telling drivers to use horse carts instead of cycles/bikes, customers will probably die of hunger)
  • no previous experience of managing, OR technical ability (according to her linkedIN portfolio)
  • only HIRED because she was a friend of the main boss
  • I personally think we dont really need the middle man (her) and save company some $$ as we now have competent employees.
  • I have suggested some things she could be doing and she has pushed back saying we should hire more people to do that.
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    Maybe you should have her managers job, because they failed in not recognising her shortcomings?
    – Kilisi
    Dec 12 '20 at 2:40
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    Does this answer your question? How to deal with a new manager falling behind on his duties
    – Fattie
    Dec 12 '20 at 4:43
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    Is there a question you have?
    – Helena
    Dec 12 '20 at 12:36
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    What are you trying to accomplish here besides complaining? Dec 12 '20 at 14:47
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    From the way you formed the question update it reads almost like you are the universal judge that knows best, even though your source of truth is... linkedin profile. Wanna know what mine says? That I was a taxidermist for 15 years as my last job, as I am too lazy to update it. I can't be bothered to update the answer now that it's a new question, so here's the skinny out of what it would be: find another job. Or better yet start your own company. Dec 13 '20 at 8:01
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So I have started a new job

So you are new, that's important to note as that means you understand of inner company working is going to be severely limited.

I think as a manager she should have done some managing and overseeing.

How are you able to tell what she should or shouldn't be doing? How do you even know what issues the manager is tackling on day to day basis to be able to tell that they are less important than "some managing and overseeing"?

She also has no clue about her department

How can you say so with such gusto and confidence? What are you basing that on?

or the job we are doing and is constantly asking us questions.

Asking questions sounds like a great quality to me. I sure appreciate people who ask questions instead of pretending to know and then act based on what they pretend to know.

I was thinking of telling her manager the situation as I feel she is not adding anything despite taking a hefty salary and we can either replace her or I become the manager as I feel like I have the knowledge of the industry and up to date standards.

And what are your actual qualifications to become a manger? Have you lead people? Build teams from scratch into well oiled and highly effective teams? Or maybe you have long history of taking on dysfunctional teams and in few short months turning them into pillars of productivity and happiness, with seemingly-impossible staff retention?

The fact that your suggestion on how to fix something in workplace oscillates around "fire them" is very telling of someone with very little management experience, even theoretical one as that's a final, not first thing to try.

The reason I am holding back is because what if her manager doesn't take me seriously I don't want to have friction or 'bad blood'

So you want to get your manager fired, literally put their financial well being in jeopardy, but at the very same time don't want there to be friction or bad blood. That's not going to happen, if you are going to run some campaign in order to get someone fired, they will definitely not like you once they find out.

And the bonus unasked question:

So what should I do?

Focus on doing your own job, not trying to manage your manager.

It would be a weird year if some new hire, especially in more junior roles, wouldn't go complaining "oh but this manager is useless! Give me their money", it's common to the point of being a trope.

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    Add that answering vague answers to a manager who asks questions is actually sabotaging that manager
    – L.Dutch
    Dec 12 '20 at 10:15
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    It would be a weird year if some new hire, especially in more junior roles, wouldn't go complaining "oh but this manager is useless! Give me their money", it's common to the point of being a trope. -More than that, it's practically the mating call of people who are a very very very long way from being fit to manage making the coffee, let alone running a department.
    – Rob Moir
    Dec 12 '20 at 10:24
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    @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica Oh, I see, I took it as explanation to use, why is he vague with us... Dec 12 '20 at 10:46
  • I have edited my original post to clarify..
    – Michael
    Dec 12 '20 at 23:11
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I have been in the same situation, in my first job:

I thought I knew exactly what software development is all about, what is important what is not and my manager should be doing. My manager did other things than what I would do and I concluded that my manager wasn't fit for his job. I even told the CEO about it.

In hindsight, 10 years after I took the job and having been in management roles myself, I can tell that I was victim of the Dunning-Kruger effect. Sure, my manager back then did make a lot of questionable decisions, but he also did things right and though he was eventually let go, my tenure in the company was much shorter than his.

I recognize a lot of my misconceptions in your list, so maybe it helps you to have my take on it:

  • not overseeing what the prev employee did so the code is of poor quality resulting in delays in changes/new features as a result of not keeping code DRY, using modern principles. Also not caring how the old employee did stuff as long as they did it, it was fine (no github/version control system, old employee just pushed file to live server)
  • not having a clue about how useless the old employee was, how many bugs/overview/state of the programme is which has meant angry clients

You overestimate how important code quality is to the business and under-estimate the value of bad but working code. In the end what stakeholders care about is whether development is on time. And a poorly written code base that does its job is much more valuable than a perfectly written code that does 50% of the job. In the eyes of upper management, this manager might very well be successful.

  • not managing the workflow so things have been delayed
  • no modern process like sprints or w/e and just going the old 1990s way.

It is relatively easy to spot problems with existing workflows. Changing workflows and processes is incredibly hard. It is not just about changing the problems you see, but also make it work with all other requirements, get acceptance from every people involve and make it a lasting change in behaviour. Management might decide that it isn't useful to invest into improving workflows, because the costs of change are to high.

  • not pitching in as its relatively small company so the manager shouldnt be hands off, she should be chipping in
  • not being able to make tech decisions, and asking me what we should be doing when this should be HER job as she is a manager.

A good manager of engineers would not make a decision by herself. Instead she consults the experts, weigh pros and cons and then bases a decision on that. You complain that she is asking you for your expert opinion to make decisions, I would complain if she didn't.

  • not having a clue about how useless the old employee was, how many bugs/overview/state of the programme is which has meant angry clients letting previous employee switch from a new language to old language because thats what they knew. (imaging uber telling drivers to use horse carts instead of cycles/bikes, customers will probably die of hunger)

Using a technology, because it can be applied without extra costs of learning it, is very reason.

  • I have suggested some things she could be doing and she has pushed back saying we should hire more people to do that.

What that translates to is that she doesn't know to or want to do it herself and doesn't trust you enough to delegate it to you. You think it is easy, she thinks there is probably more to it than you think, and she might be right.

  • no previous experience of managing, OR technical ability (according to her linkedIN portfolio)
  • I personally think we dont really need the middle man (her) and save company some $$ as we now have competent employees.

So you think you could do her job on top of your job and be better at it as well. Unfortunately you have no way to prove it, and management would just have to take your word on it to sack a manager that has a proven track record, with the only indication of something going wrong, being you saying that the code smells and the processes are bad. Given that your managers managers are probably not day-to-day tech people themselves, they do not have a simple way to verify your claims, what do you think their decision should be if they had to decide between you and your manager.

  • only HIRED because she was a friend of the main boss

You don't need to be an expert in company politics to figure out that opposing here might go bad, she is a friend of the main boss!!!

My suggestion: You likely won't win if you try to go above your managers head. If the manager is truly under-performing their managers will figure it out by themselves, and if they don't there probably isn't a problem. You should be deciding for yourself whether you want to keep working for that manager or not. If you don't then you should change your manager (by finding a new position internally or externally), but if you do you need to play along with the current hierarchy.

There is no Klingon promotion in tech.

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    +1 "a poorly written code base that does its job is much more valuable than a perfectly written code that does 50% of the job" I spend so much time explaining to developers that the point of the job is to deliver functionality to our customers, to a budget. Not every project necessarily needs the most elegant, scalable, extensible bleeding-edge solution. Dec 13 '20 at 16:54
  • @Helena The code is full of bugs, code has discrepancies so its not just about the quality. there is a diff. between asking & having a consultation. The reason i asked her to do stuff is thats where i think her strength lie and one one hand u say i wont be able to do her job&mine and on other u say maybe she doesnt trust me enough to delegate? her job isnt even hard. I know what she does.. few calls here and there, speak to the boss..
    – Michael
    Dec 14 '20 at 7:08
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People generally get promoted for a reason, even if flawed

There are tons of reasons that a seemingly sub-optimal person who does not want to do management stuff could have a managerial job.

  • Only person who knows key technical systems
  • Only way to reward a key high individual performer
  • They work extra hours to cover for employee incompetence
  • They have a good relationship with their own manager
  • They are uniquely trusted by their own manager
  • They are uniquely trusted by clients
  • They can reliably deliver, even if the methods are flawed
  • They are the known devil after a disastrous manager

I am curious about whether you have ever made the case to management to make something "up to date." Sometimes they are interested and sometimes they are very averse to doing anything about it because doing nothing leads to very little risk, especially for them. It is often far more important in the business world to prevent downside even if that leads to an enormous missed opportunity for improvement.

I doubt you have been there long enough to determine what kind of company you are at and what kind of manager your manager's manager is.

You are also an unknown factor. Imagine if your manager’s manager came here and ask a question about your actions. The answers would consider all sorts of things, from the discord your continued presence might cause to whether it is brazen ambition. At best you would be rolling the dice on the outcome.

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  • definitely brazen something.... ambition would be a kind thought
    – Kilisi
    Dec 12 '20 at 4:19
  • she wasnt promoted. she was friend of the manager so was just picked. i have looked at her linkedIn profile and know she has no experience in the sector we are in..
    – Michael
    Dec 12 '20 at 22:48
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    @Michael see exactly why this is a bad idea? Dec 12 '20 at 23:11
  • @MatthewGaiser i have edited main post & added bit more info. maybe that would change your mind,, maybe not :/
    – Michael
    Dec 12 '20 at 23:21
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Good thing you asked here first before carrying out your plan. Right after starting somewhere going over your manager's head and complain that she is incompetent and should be replaced, possibly by you? It doesn't take a genius to figure out that that is unlikely to end well for you. So definitely don't do that.

Matthew also makes a good point that although your manager seems or is incompetent in some areas, there might be a very good reason she got promoted to manager.

As a final point, I think it's strange that on one hand you complain about your manager that she doesn't know much about the department or your work and on the other hand you give her only vague answers when she asks you about your work. Why do you that? Why not give her clear and useful answers?

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    I think the "I am trying to be vague" refers to this question, so as not to identify the company where OP works. Dec 12 '20 at 13:59
  • she didnt get promoted, its a small company so she knew the CEO who isnt very averse either.
    – Michael
    Dec 12 '20 at 23:13

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