As a new assistant manager, I've come into a workplace where the head manager is a tyrant and doesn't follow company policy. For example, she changes the schedule without notification, uses her position to benefit herself, chooses favourites, doesn't delegate, is self serving, and doesn't trust other employees.

When I try to speak to her about an issue she just talks over me or turns it around to be about her. When I speak to the district manager (DM) about issues she brushes it off as if the staff are making things up and are disgruntled. The DM tells me I have to get on the same page as the manager and start supporting her. Its hard to when I don't support her daily decisions as a manager or co-worker, no one has respect for her, and the team morale is extremely low.

How do I support my team and manager at the same time?

  • 2
    Unfortunately, you have to obey orders - at least for the time being - since you have two levels of management weighing down on you. Rest assured that obeying orders in no way constitutes agreeing with them let alone endorsing them. Set up a confidential appointment with HR. Document every instance where the boss's behavior has crossed ethical/company policy lines as to time, location, violation, witnesses. Send the documentation to HR, keeping a copy. Be careful not to do anything that might impeach your integrity as a witness. Line up another job - that's your plan B. It's going to get messy Apr 11, 2014 at 0:11
  • You may not realize it, but as a person in the management position right under your boss's, there is not much she can hide from you. You are in the ideal position to gather the evidence that will be her worst nightmare. Again, I want to point out that there is no percentage for you in making waves while you are gathering the evidence. When you ship the evidence to HR, keep a copy :) Apr 11, 2014 at 0:29

3 Answers 3


Similar to how "the customer is always right," the boss is always right as well, even when, in reality, she is wrong, especially since your manager's boss has only reaffirmed your manager's position.

Thus, you really have 2 options.

  1. Support your boss. Yes, she may make some of the most draconian decisions ever, but because you supported her, most of the flak from those decisions will fall on her, especially if the DM gets wind of employee moral. Staying in your position while being unsupportive and insubordinate (by supporting the team over the boss) or even while having a bad attitude toward your boss will place you on the quick road to a pink slip.
  2. Find a new job. Plain and simple, if you don't like the boss, try to find a new one. During your job search, though, remain positive about your current position, as recruiters will likely shy away from anyone who is seemingly leaving their current position over not being able to get along with someone, especially the boss.

Here are the few facts you have to understand.

She is Boss: Regardless of whatever the other employees may be thinking about her, higher management trust her and placed her in a senior position. That means she has some qualities or skills which are very valuable to the organization. You should respect that.

Your work should first be recognized by her: Another thing you should be aware of is that she is the first person whom you should impress with your work. She reports to the organization about you and your work. Even if she is wrong in her judgement of you or your work, her opinion is valued by higher management more than yours is.

Bosses also have weak points: Not every person is good at eiquitte, diplomacy and communication. Maybe your boss is weak in these areas. However, she might be good in other areas. You should look for those.

A team is stronger than individuals: Many managers focus on teams rather than individuals. Not all team members have all the skills at the required level. But if a team needs to achieve certain tasks managers select a team with the people who are strong in different areas and thereby make the team strong enough to achieve the task together. In some teams, the lead may not be technically strong enough but strong in soft skills. If the team requires both technical and soft skills to achieve something, managers select a team with one member who is strong at soft skills and another member who is strong in technical skills.

Below are the points that helps you to support your boss:

Understand Your Boss: Try to understand your boss. Understand their targets, their strengths, their weaknesses, their priorities and where they are in the process of achieving their targets, what are their struggles etc. This will help you to support her better. Try to figure out where you can help her.

Build Trust: Trust is very important. Once you have built trust with her then you will be good. You can support her more and more and she can in turn support you. This may be difficult to achieve, but it is good for the team, for you and for her also.

Help her with her problems and weaknesses: If she has any weak points to do certain tasks, like conveying message softly, scheduling things or planning things, you should proactively help her. Politely and proactively offer your help - like managing her schedule or reminding her about other priorities, taking care to communicatie efficiently etc.

Make her rely on you for difficult tasks: If the boss is weak in one area, it is a very good opportunity for you to get tasks in that area and get things done. In this way you will get a good rating from your boss. Take up those activities and do the good work, so that she will rely on you further.

Try to become a bridge between your boss and employees/team members: Finally as a assistant manager try to become a bridge between her and the team. In this way both she and the team rely on you, and you will become the most valuable member of the team.

  • Trust is also a key way to effect change. The more your manager trusts you, the more control you gain over the situation. Will it ever be perfect... no... the situation will always reflect what the manager sees it should be... But you might be able to stabilize schedules, improve following policy, and improve employee morale. Typically I've found managers who are tyrants don't trust their staff to do their work without someone looming over their every move... It's a bad place to be... But it's not hopeless. Dec 19, 2014 at 21:41

Re : How do I support my team and manager at the same time?

Best way to support your team is to get the manager to support the team.

  • Make her cognizant of impact

Seems like you have already shown leadership by trying to raise some of the issues with her . Work on that path, make her explicitly cognizant of the impact that some of her decisions are having on the team's output, team's morale, make her cognizant of the reasons behind you being reluctant to support some of her decisions. At the same time try and reassure her , it is about her decisions and not her personally and that you want to see her succeeding (as that in turn enables the team to succeed)

  • Talk about examples and potential actions

Build up a case,start with private discussions and show her concrete examples of the impact.Engage her to understand why should NOT we be changing the way we are taking decisions or implementing priorities when clearly it is having an impact on the team ? Try and get some actionable changes from this discussion.

  • Still not working ?

    If she can not hear her 2IC out by now and does not act on the feedback then clearly such a person is not deserving enough to be working for (a person who consistently puts themselves first and then the team is the worst kind of boss) . Dont tow the line, report to the DM on why the efforts to get on the same page with her are not working and find another job.

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