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When your line manager:

  • prioritises tasks according to politics, giving 50% of a month to a project which requires 10% of the time and vice versa;
  • is not able to provide more staff;
  • is not able to provide hardware;
  • has as standard answer "we have to do this and you are the only one who can do it";
  • does not want you to complain or talk to anybody else, leaving everything with him;

how should a professional behave to:

  1. avoid being labeled as malcontent;
  2. keep things moving;
  3. avoid damaging his/her CV?

marked as duplicate by gnat, IDrinkandIKnowThings, Community Aug 24 '15 at 18:24

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How to get things done when your line manager does not manage?

How would you get things done if your manager wasn't there? For almost all jobs, it's pretty easy - after all, your manager (usually) isn't getting things done themselves, they're clearing the way so you can do it. Your team will evolve another person to be the dispute resolver, or the one to provide direction, or the one who represents your group to other teams (or your manager).

prioritises tasks according to politics, giving 50% of a month to a project which requires 10% of the time and vice versa;

You raise the issue with your manager (non-confrontationally). They might not understand that the project requires so little effort.

Once that is done, do your 10% and then move along to other work. Politics is... maybe not inevitable, but common enough that this should not be a surprise. If other projects are harmed by this, then shrug and suggest politicking your manager.

is not able to provide more staff

Do what work you can during your reasonable working hours and let your manager deal with their problem.

is not able to provide hardware

Do what work you can using your current hardware, raising issues when it limits your ability to do what is requested of you.

has as standard answer "we have to do this and you are the only one who can do it"

Ask why that is - and what the contingency plan is if (heaven forbid) you are hit by a bus tomorrow. And remember - you can always say no. What are they going to do, fire you? Then the work really isn't going to get done. (Though seriously, they might fire you. Or implode. Keep that resume up to date.)

does not want you to complain or talk to anybody else, leaving everything with him

Well, your manager should be the one clearing out problems for you - or at the very least explaining why the problem cannot be dealt with right now. If they can't/won't do that, then go to someone else.

But it is rare that a manager is very bad in isolation. Usually someone made a mistake in hiring/promoting that person - and someone has not dealt with this problem yet. That usually means there's at least one other problem within your organization. So don't focus so much on this one person, since they're likely not (solely) to blame. Focus on doing the best job you can with what you have, while standing up for yourself when you're inevitably pushed to work on terrible things or overtime to make up for others' mistakes.

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Sounds to me as if your manager is managing, you just don't like his choices.

In the first place, priority on work is ALWAYS based on politics. And it should be. In this case the politics have determined what is most important to the organization. Just because it is not what you think should be worked on first is irrelevant; if that is what the business wants, then it is their right to determine what they need the most. That said, if the work doesn't take all the time available, simply do the highest priority and then tell him when you are done and start on the next highest priority.

Next he may or may not have the money to get more staff or hardware. More staff is expensive. Hardware comes from a budget that is often not very large. You can request these things and should request them with a good justification (in business terms not a wish list), but you will not successfully get them much of the time. In particular you need to learn to make a business case for things you want. You need to prove why the company (not you ) will benefit. If these things are limiting your ability to get the work done, then make sure, you inform your boss when things are delayed due to not having the right equipment or not having enough staff. Make sure to tell people when you can't get to their tasks due to higher priorities. If he doesn't want you to directly send a progress report (Or in this case a lack of progress report) then send it to him. It is then his responsibility to pass the word along and if there are complaints later then you are covered.

He doesn't want you to go to other people because these things are legitimately his decisions (or his job to move up to the next level) and it is not smart to go around your boss.

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prioritises tasks according to politics, giving 50% of a month to a project which requires 10% of the time and vice versa;

Complete their "priority" project first, in the first 10% of the time. Then either inform them that you're finished and moving on to the other project, or don't inform them and move on anyway.

Which of these you do will depend on your company culture: some are micro-managed, others have a higher level of autonomy to get on with your own workload. Your manager will find it hard to be political if you've completed the work required.

is not able to provide more staff;

Raise the issue (an email will do) in a polite, non-demanding way, so that if there are questions later over performance you can prove that you've raised the issue early in the process and you're not just being lazy and using "we need more staff" as an excuse.

Then, as mentioned in another answer, simply do as much work as you can in your own working time. You may wish to put in a little extra time, but don't attempt to do two people's work.

is not able to provide hardware;

Again, raise it early and politely. Don't demand: if you know they won't do it, there's no point in making an argument out of it or appearing difficult... just make sure it's been officially (and demonstrably) raised early in the process. Raising issues early is an important part of project management, so you're encouraging the process and covering your own back.

Again once you've done this, just get on with the work as best you can with the resources available. It's not your job to run the company. If the hardware is a complete blocker, you may have to push harder

has as standard answer "we have to do this and you are the only one who can do it";

He may or may not have a point. The simple fact is that he's your line manager, he's the one who delegates your tasks. If he asks you to do it, you should do it :)

does not want you to complain or talk to anybody else, leaving everything with him

Fairly natural - anything else undermines his position and over-complicates the management structure. Leave things with him but keep proof that you have done so (archived emails should be sufficient). Unless something is a danger to life, of course.

how should a professional behave to: avoid being labeled as malcontent;

Don't complain in a personal way, don't push things, and don't grumble. Just get on with your work, raising issues in a tactful, neutral manner

keep things moving;

Just do as much as you can: you aren't the line manager, you aren't the project manager (presumably) - raise the issues and do a full week's work. If your line manager is aware of the issues and things still don't progress as they should, that's your manager's problem, you've performed your responsibilities properly.

avoid damaging his/her CV?

None of the above should damage your CV: you're doing your job properly. Unless you're not actually undertaking tasks that are part of your job description, then there's no reason you have to mention time frames or project delays. Your CV is about what you did, not what you didn't have time for. If you aren't undertaking suitable tasks for your job description, you may wish to consider moving jobs.

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