Long story short: Strained relationship with Manager drove me to job hunting. Manager takes six month sabbatical. Working directly for her manager in that time is infinitely more enjoyable, and in one month alone have made more progress towards career objectives than ever before. Dread the thought of going back to original manager when she returns. How can I express that professionally to my temporary manager at my half year review without stabbing the original in the back?
At the beginning of the year I started a new role that I'd been promoted to a few months prior. This meant working under a new line manager, who we will call Jane, whom had also been promoted to her role at the same time. I had known Jane reasonably well prior to working directly under her (we're a start up), and got on well professionally and personally. We were building a new department from scratch, along with another colleague on the same level as me but handling an unrelated function to mine, under Jane's umbrella.
My role was, and still is very pressured and challenging (although exciting and rewarding). I am covering a workload of at least 2 if not 3 people, and also having to support my old department due to my old role not being filled properly when I was promoted. There have been a lot of late nights and stress, and I have been very upfront with Jane about feeling close to burnout.
Right from when we started however, Jane was very absent. I had no visibility of what she was doing. We would have a catch up on a Monday morning where I would report everything I was doing, but it was never reciprocated. We didn't work together on anything, and I really had no idea what she did. During this time, I was also becoming aware that I was not being given any opportunities to work on any cross-functional projects or even present my own work to other stakeholders. It was always "don't worry, I presented it to x". I felt really isolated and cut off from the rest of the company. While Jane gave feedback, it was always... overly positive. To the point of feeling fake. Routine things I was doing were being given the same "smashed it!" feedback as wins I felt really proud of. When I talked about challenges, I would just get overly motivational "you got this!" type sympathy, and no tangible support.
After a few months, Jane's manager (lets call her Tracy) set up a meeting with me to get to know me better. At one point she mentioned an upcoming meeting believing I would be in it as it was essentially focused on my area of expertise, but I'd never even heard it was occurring. Tracy invited me to it, and gave me the opportunity in it to share my knowledge, which I did, and I was proud of my performance afterwards, and supposedly impressed some other senior managers. After that meeting, Jane started micromanaging me. She became very demanding of constant updates, and snapped at me on more than one occasion for letting low priority tasks slip due to being overburdened, all whilst offering no real support. I also started to suspect she was presenting my work as her own, or at least as having contributed to it when she hadn't, as company updates would always say things like "Jane and batsag have worked really hard on x or y" when x or y was something I'd worked on alone.
It all came to a head at 5pm one day about two months ago when Jane pulled me into a meeting room to demand to know why I hadn't yet updated her on a meeting I'd had with an external supplier that morning (I had explicitly said at the start of the week that I'd summarise it by email that evening as I knew I was going to be having a full on day). Due to our various commitments we had not crossed paths until about 20 minutes before Jane pulled me into this. She accused me of lacking respect and undermining her, claiming it was not the first time I'd done this, but without providing examples. I was accused of "being the reason we don't look like a team". I was tired and caught off guard so I just apologised and said it was a misunderstanding, rather than standing up for myself. Went home that night and resolved to resign by the end of the week. I'd already been job hunting as I'd got to the point where I was feeling ill at the thought of coming in to the office while she was there, but had been trying to be patient and get an offer elsewhere first.
The next day, she announced that she was taking a six month sabbatical to go do a once in a lifetime trip. She had apparently requested it at the time she got promoted to lead this department, and they'd been working out the details over the past 4 months. I would be reporting directly to her manager for the period. I decided to hold out and see how working for Tracy turned out. We basically did no handover, as there was nothing to be handed over, and within a month she was gone.
I've been working directly for Tracy for about 6 weeks now, and it has been night and day. I'm getting to lead on cross functional work with other stakeholders, present my work directly to senior management, put together a CPD plan. I speak to Tracy multiple times a day, and when I talk to her about challenges, we come up with solutions. Tracy is also seemingly shouting my praises to anyone and everyone, as I had the CEO come up to me late one evening last week and tell me he's been "hearing great things about me over the past month". I feel re-energised and positive about my job, and I don't want this to go back to how it was before.
I have my six month review of my new role coming up with Tracy. I really don't know how to approach this. Despite everything, I don't want to throw Jane under a bus, for her sake but also mine as I don't think its a professional look to do so. I am ambitious in a healthy way (I hope), and that is known by management, so I worry anything I do will look like climbing the ladder at someone else's expense. But I really cannot go back to working for her when she returns in the autumn. Can anyone advise me what to do here?