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I am a new manager (junior/assistant head of department), promoted one year ago, and I have always had five star performance ratings as well as been recently named best employee of the company. On the surface, I have little or no reason to believe that I have had performance issues.

During the recent performance review, however, my boss told me that someone else would soon come and help look over my team. In fact, this person is a friend of the CEO with little technical experience in my function but has been fast-tracked. De facto, I also feel like he is becoming more and more our new boss, giving me and my team commands. During the appraisal, I did feel a bit uncomfortable and asked my boss:"Is there any negative feedback about my performance? Anything I could improve?" And he said:"Absolutely not, you are doing a great job and you should continue like that!" In that instant, it reassured me, but now 4 months have passed and I feel more and more like I am being cornered, stripped of my responsibilities, and being excluded from nearly all decision-making. This was my hunch back then, and it is turning into reality. My boss has more meetings with the new guy, and the new guy has independent meetings with the others in my team.

The doubts and anxiety about this are increasing every day and I feel quite betrayed about this. I also think my actual performance is dropping due to this, as I am constantly focusing about the team, about what to do to improve the team and prove myself, and confused about my tasks which are increasingly technical. All in all, I have reached the point where I cannot take it anymore and need to talk about this with my boss.

I want to develop my path as a manager and grow to a senior level leader, so I need to learn what are my mistakes and what I need to change, etc. How can I confront my boss about this?

Note that this is part of a larger question, but I am breaking it down to more specific questions following the request by members who dislike too generic questions. I also hope this makes the question and answer more relevant to a larger audience.

marked as duplicate by gnat, CMW, Michael Grubey, IDrinkandIKnowThings, jcmeloni Apr 28 '14 at 12:49

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In fact, this person is a friend of the CEO with little technical experience in my function but has been fast-tracked.

This suggests to me that the problem may not be a fault in your work per se, but rather an issue of politics. If the CEO has decided to carve out a niche for a friend in a part of the business that affects you then this might be the whole problem in itself, not something that you are doing or not doing.

As for what to do about it, if you have the right sort of relationship with your manager then ask them. If you don't feel you can do that then do you have a management peer or a mentor outside the line of fire who might be able to give you an impartial view, or share any gossip they may have heard?

  • There might be someone... I am wondering, at the same time, another question: If I interview with new jobs, could I state this as one of the reasons for leaving my current job? – AntarcticGorilla Apr 24 '14 at 19:41
  • No. Leaving because you can't handle negative things (which will be the perception the interviewer will take away from an answer that goes that way, fairly or not) is not something the interviewer will view as an asset. Never tell them you're leaving because your old employer was bad, instead focus on why the new place and you are better together. If you badmouth your current employer then they will assume that in 18 months or so you'll just be badmouthing them to the next employer (again, fairly or not). – Rob Moir Apr 24 '14 at 19:49
  • RobM, I know that is the standard way to answer... but at some interviews I have subsequently been asked "what is the REAL reason?" or something very similar to "what bothers you at your current workplace that makes you want to leave?" .. and then I feel like they want to test if I am honest and trustworthy rather than just trying to sell myself... never happened to you? – AntarcticGorilla Apr 24 '14 at 19:52
  • I'm not sure how much more strongly I can say this: don't badmouth your current employer to any potential new one. If the interviewer starts digging then they either don't believe your reply, so work on your sincerity; or they want to know that you can be discreet with their internal company 'secrets', which you should demonstrate by being discreet about your current employer's business; or they're a huge idiot digging for gossip, and still cannot be trusted to do anything that benefits you if you give them any gossip. – Rob Moir Apr 24 '14 at 19:56
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During the appraisal, I did feel a bit uncomfortable and asked my boss:"Is there any negative feedback about my performance? Anything I could improve?" And he said:"Absolutely not, you are doing a great job and you should continue like that!"

The lack of feedback here would be a bit of a yellow flag to my mind as one possible explanation is that your boss hasn't noticed anything and thus doesn't have anything to tell you other than to continue as you are. In other words, is your boss really noticing how well or not well you are doing with your job? Possibly not as if you aren't causing trouble then things are fine.

I want to develop my path as a manager and grow to a senior level leader, so I need to learn what are my mistakes and what I need to change, etc. How can I confront my boss about this?

Personally, I wouldn't. I would suggest finding mentors outside of those direct superiors you have that may be more useful to have as sounding boards. There is the potential that when it comes to office politics you aren't doing well enough to be the person that is getting favored and thus you feel a little bitter. Depending on the size of your organization, there may be others in management positions that you could ask for a perspective of how are you seen by others as it may be that the company wants to have you do some technical work while also calling you a manager so that you aren't the low man on the totem pole.


Networking events and professional events for your field would likely be my suggestion for where you may find other managers as well as considered graduate schools where some managers may go to get degrees like an MBA.

  • Thanks, how would you suggest finding these mentors? I do have some good friends across the company, but not at a higher rank than me. Most say that I am well-considered. – AntarcticGorilla Apr 24 '14 at 7:48
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Don't "confront" your boss. You can ask for more information from him, but confrontation will just hurt whatever relationship you have.

From what you have said here, it sounds to me like @RobM is on track. It isn't you, it's the CEO creating a role for someone else. And perhaps your manager not being very focused on your development.

To help you grow your skills, I'm happy to suggest Manager Tools (http://manager-tools.com) where you will find a large number of free podcasts on management. Start with the Basics feed, and then branch out. They have been a huge help to me.

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