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As the most junior in my team, I've been working with a challenging manager/colleague (let's call him A). I've been working on a project with him for the past month, something that usually takes a week to complete. As he's very detail oriented, each time I approach him for feedback it turns out that there are always things that he'd like to change (some of which he wanted initially) or add, and he's never happy with it.

Whenever I try to help someone else in my team, he tightens my deadlines more to make things difficult for me. This has happened twice so far. Today, he was upset that I was to work on another project with manager B. When B mentioned that I've been working with A for the past month, A told him that it was because my work quality was poor, that he had to revise my work over and over again and that I was behind time on A's project.

I was rather surprised as he's been telling me that I've been doing a "great job" (though I doubted his sincerity at times), and because I was actually on time for A's deadlines. I tried to defend myself, but got talked over. I think the real reason is that someone claimed to have no capacity for A's project recently, and I'm now to take on that work.

I find it demoralizing as I've worked really hard on this project, and tried my best. I'm thinking of avoiding A's work now, but I'm not sure how when I sit in front of him. What would you do in my position?

  • who set you to work with A? Do you have a choice? – Kilisi Nov 24 '15 at 23:22
  • I'm allowed to work with anyone in my team, it's just that I keep working with A as he's got too much to do and requests for help. – Twilight Sparkle Nov 24 '15 at 23:25
  • sounds like A is under some stress, usually when people start pushing blame on juniors it's a sign of their own shortcomings. There isn't a lot you can do except work as well as you can until it clears up I think. – Kilisi Nov 24 '15 at 23:32
  • Hmm I see. Are there any strategies I may use to avoid work from A? I'm considering filling my calendar in advance, but was worried that it may be too obvious. – Twilight Sparkle Nov 24 '15 at 23:35
  • Hi gnat, thank you. I think my problem is a little different, it's not so much about bullying and gossip, but about trying to avoid having to work with him. – Twilight Sparkle Nov 24 '15 at 23:37
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There are a number of issues here.

  1. your performance Arrange a meeting with A and ask him for a definite statement on whether your work has been satisfactory. If he says it has, tell him that B said A had told him you were doing bad work. Ask him what that's about? Don't accuse him of lying, just ask him to clear up the misunderstanding. Assuming he agrees, tell B about your conversation with A, all in the spirit of clearing up the ' misunderstanding'.
  2. get out from under A Tell him you like working with him, but you want to expand your range and do different things. Say you would like to work with someone else for a while and then come back to him.
  3. your real boss You must have one. Have a meeting with him. Ask him about your performance. Tell him about the 'misunderstanding' between A and B. Tell him about wanting to work with different people. Ask for advice.
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    "your real boss You must have one" is a very common and very useful refrain on this site – AakashM Nov 25 '15 at 9:05
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You do realize that your perception is likely off?

If you would be a liability, he would make sure to get rid of you. Instead he lies to a manager in order to keep you and changes the deadlines. This basically means he is glad and happy with your work, even if he is not the person who compliments much and always finds something to improve. If you approach him for feedback, you get feedback.

You should try to change your approach. Don't ask for generic feedback or whether this is okay or not. Ask if this is "good enough considering the deadlines and the amount of work still to do".

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