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Within my team we have three sub teams. The sub team I am in which I was hired into has myself, another person my grade, my Line manager and his Line manager. For the first time in my life I am actually good at my job and everything runs smoothly and efficiently. My line manager recently started another project which takes up all of his time and I am happy to single handedly run my project.

In another sub team, there is two people my grade and their line manager. I do no get on with their line manager. He is a terrible leader, micromanages and is highly unprofessional at all times. Both his suborns have complained but nothing has been done. I have am professional with him as he is not my line manager so things remain civil. However we both know we dislike each other.

It is now looking like, for no apparent reason, I will be swapped with the two people on the other team and be working under him. Its not official but the reasons sound like they want to develop me, even tho there are plenty of opportunities under my current line manager to work on the project he is doing now or even the project my higher manager is doing.

The way I see it I have three choices.

  1. When its confirmed officially, quit.
  2. Suck it up then after a few weeks of arguing with him go on the sick.
  3. Get my union involved.
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    Have you talked to the people involved about this? Do they know you don't want to work under this other line manager and prefer your current position? – Erik Oct 2 '15 at 6:59
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    Yes my higher manager knows my feelings on him, he is one of the overall managers of the team as well and he actually apologized to me yesterday when he gave me a heads up that it was going that way – Marriott81 Oct 2 '15 at 7:08
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You forgot the choice where you learn to get along.

Overall in my career, I have several times been re-organized to work for people I disliked. It is part of life. You need to give it a good try to work with this person. Most of the time, it can work out for you in the long run. Since you say this is your dream job, it is worth it to make the effort to make it work or to gain what you need to move up in your own career.

You said they want you to do this to develop you. That means it could be a short-term thing with an different end goal in sight. Several things could be happening here. One is that they want you to get up-to-speed on his projects because they are replacing him (which obviously they can't tell anyone yet.). One could be that they are rotating the other guys out to give them a break which means they would rotate you out too in time. One reason could be they have a different job in mind for you but you need some experience that only this project will get you. Thinking about it as a possible change that could work out for the better changes the dynamic. It makes it easier to take knowing that the situation is short-term.

There are lots of books on dealing with difficult people. I would suggest you read at least one. Saying someone is unprofessional and a micromanager is almost meaningless in determining what kind of issue you have dealing with him, so I can't give more specific advice about how to deal with this person specifically. You may recognize him in the books though and get some good advice for dealing.

In the meantime, adapt to his style. If he wants information give it to him often and cheerfully. It is his right and his job as a manager to know what you are working on at all times. If you are cooperative rather than fighting him at every step of the way, you can often gain his respect and trust and he will start to micromanage less. People often do this because they are afraid they won't have what they need when senior managers ask them questions. So if you voluntarily keep him informed, he will be less stressed and things will go more smoothly for you both.

When you are assigned. Sit down with him and ask exactly what he expects from you. Ask how you can help him get the project done. Be neutral. You don't have to pretend to be happy; you both know that you are not and likely he is not. What you have to do is work out exactly what he expects and then give it to him. Remember, good performance (as defined by your new boss) on your part can turn around his opinion of you. And really as long as your employed, you owe it to the company to try to perform as well as you can. That is after all what they are paying you for.

There are things to learn even from bad managers. One thing you learn is how being badly treated affects people and you can learn how to manage from learning how not to manage. And he must have had something going for him on the technical side to get promoted. Even people you don't like often have knowledge to pass along that is useful in the long run. Don't give up the chance to learn something that may be key to a successful career over some personality conflicts. Flexibility is another thing you get from adjusting to work with managers of all types. Flexibility is a really useful and career enhancing characteristic. Your company may even be looking at you while you work for this person to see if you are getting outside your comfort zone and learning the flexibility they may think you need. After all good managers need to be flexible and learn to work with employees they don't like.

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    +1 This. They want to develop you - specifically, they want you to learn the very valuable skill of "dealing with difficult people". – Dan Henderson Oct 3 '15 at 17:14
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I'll suggest a fourth option:

  1. Start looking for a new job now. Quit when you have found one and your new reporting line is official.

Why?

  1. You don't want to quit before you have something new lined up. And you don't want to start only when this is announced officially, given that the likelihood that the change happens seems to be high.

  2. Taking sick leave if the only thing wrong is that you can't deal with your manager is unprofessional. Right now, you may be able to get good references from your current line manager and his higher-up. If you react in an unprofessional way, even good references can turn sour. Anyway, this is not a long-term solution.

  3. I don't know how much power a union has in your geography and industry, but I'd expect that if any good could come out of this, the two subordinates of the problem boss would already have gone this route. Besides, see point 2 above: people who call in the union may get a reputation as a troublemaker.

In any case, start looking for alternatives now. Right now, you can still use your old manager as a reference. In six months, people will want to talk to your new manager, and it seems like you wouldn't want him to provide you a reference.

All this of course presupposes that you have tried seriously to work professionally even with someone you dislike. It can be done. However, sometimes, it's simply not possible. In such a case, quitting can indeed be the best option.

  • Thank you for your answer, I used to sit by the guy, spent 3 months next to him and he was always unprofessional to me before he was even a manager. I was thinking of going with the whole looking for a job thing and then once it happens accepting one maybe. Problem is its my dream job, I work productively and I love it every morning. Its just I know I cannot work under this guy and Ill more than likely wind up killing him anyway. – Marriott81 Oct 2 '15 at 8:22
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    Killing him is yet a fifth option. Which I would not recommend for the same reason as option 2 above: it's unprofessional, and you likely won't get any good references afterwards. – S. Kolassa - Reinstate Monica Oct 2 '15 at 8:24
  • Sitting here feeling crappy and I read this.. that made me laugh thank you. – Marriott81 Oct 2 '15 at 8:26
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    There are a whole bunch of topics on meta about why quitting is not an answer. It should always be the final option, not the first. Exhaust all other possibilities before committing to this very irreversible step. – Jane S Oct 2 '15 at 9:14
  • @JaneS: fully agree. Which is why I included my last paragraph. As jmost253 writes, sometimes quitting is the right answer. The OP's question and comment sound like he has thought long and hard about alternatives. In this situation, it appears like a choice between quitting now and quitting later - and then quitting now is better. – S. Kolassa - Reinstate Monica Oct 2 '15 at 9:25

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