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To keep this short.

How can you tactfully and effectively tell a group of people who while although technically have superiority over you in your role within an organization. They have never done your job, they have proven they have no idea how to do your job, and the fact they're constantly inhibiting you from performing your job to the status which you're positive you're capable of is forcing you to produce mediocre work which you are not proud of? Not to mention that does them no favors because what's produced immediately results in unrealized profit potential.

The catch is, you do like these people quite a bit personally. However the scenario of "too many cooks in the kitchen" is hurting them in ways they're seemingly never going to have the ability to admit...

So how (without creating animosity or ill will) steer them towards trusting more, to stop vying for relevance in areas they're not adept, and allow people to invest their talents where they're more genuinely appropriate?

Example, say you could point out side clients you have been directly attributed for substantial successes wherein they allowed you to utilize your talents with little-to-no hindrance that resulted in increased profit and visibility. However they still refuse to provide you the ability to do the same for them as they're all more fitting of the definition of "narcissistic leadership" (worth a google btw).

I would prefer to stay with this organization for multiple reasons. However I also am becoming less complacent with coming home knowing I could do better without all the noise and "power trips" as it were.

I've not used this SE site and am a bit confused on the format since I see many posts that wouldn't fly on others. So if I'm out of format please let me know so I may just delete the post. Thanks!

  • they're not taking you seriously enough? Are you an acknowledged expert in your subject? Mediocre is fine in many places, it basically means 'normal' so by definition that means the vast majority of stuff is mediocre. – Kilisi Jun 16 '16 at 19:58
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    It's more of a scenario better described with the old phrase of "tripping over their own feet" as I'm not the only one. I have some ridiculously talented co-workers (which are becoming harder and harder to keep around) which are left just bogged down by the politics of the leadership "clubs". Example, one guy hasn't had anything to do in a week, and he's a really talented guy that could be off working on other things instead. However because of the politics, he's left just watching pluralsight all day twiddling his thumbs, and not by his own preference. So it's not just me by any means. – Chris W. Jun 16 '16 at 20:02
  • He's getting paid though I assume? – Kilisi Jun 16 '16 at 20:02
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    Of course, compensation is adequate monetarily. However (and sorry if I can't think of a better way to describe this) but not soul-fully. If that makes sense. Or in other words, nobody seems to have a reason to invest in the company beyond just showing up and collecting a check like a cog. Which is not what a team should sum to in my opinion. – Chris W. Jun 16 '16 at 20:03
  • Most teams I have been in are exactly that, they don't really have anything more than short term goals, and no 'real' vested interest in the company outside their role. It's a bit like chess, the person who can see the most moves ahead and has clear goals tends to win. – Kilisi Jun 16 '16 at 20:12
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Wow. That sounds frustrating! My sympathies!

So... I think there's a couple things on this...

1 - Separate your own ego and your interpretation of their actions from the outcomes.

Feeling like others are making your work mediocre is an awful feeling. I get that. But you want to find a zen place where you can put that frustration aside and also where you can avoid asserting that people are being difficult for negative reasons. Don't assert bad intent and limit the part where you want them to change simply because it frustrates you. As a boss, I care about my employees being happy, but not the extend that I'll change a process simply because of that.

I particularly high light words like "power trip", and "narcissistic leadership" - it may well be true, but people rarely see themselves as the villains and when you paint them as such, you close their minds to the possibility of your ideas.

2 - Get a crisp story for how different behavior would create better outcomes

Show them how to change, and why the change will be a net win for all of you. That is what usually changes minds.

My tact is often this recipe:

  • Problem: here is what is not happening that could be happening better. If it happened better, we'd make more money this way.
  • Reason: We are not getting the result we want because we're doing things this way.
  • Solution: Let's try this ... stated in thing they can do, rather than in things they should not do. Praise as many of their good qualities as you can "you are the expert on XYZ, if you would give me the data relative to XYZ in terms of ABC, this would help me. I bet you're trying to help and give me ABC-rendered-into-this-stuff - but it makes it harder for me to do my part of this"

Bridge the Knowledge Divide

And do it in their terms. As you said, they are not the experts. If you want to provoke change, you're going to have to get better translation between your realms of expertise. This goes both ways - you need to teach them about your world and how it works, and you need to learn enough about their world to be a good teacher.

Kind of like teaching a language... you can't teach English speakers to speak Spanish if you don't speak a little English. Even if you are a genius at Spanish, you are utterly useless to English speakers who haven't learned Spanish yet, if you can't start at least a little bit in English (note, it doesn't have to be sublime... just enough to help your students learn).

This can be the hardest part... when your experience of your management is something approximating a rectal probe, it's hard to open up and explain your world... but it's sadly necessary.

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Most professionals probably feel something similar at some point. I definitely have. I handled it by an attitude adjustment in some cases, and by leaving in others.

The primary reason for working is to make money, if you go in with the attitude that you're just there for the money, do what you're told to do from payday to payday, and let the rest wash over you, then the problem disappears because it is just a mental shift.

You're other recourse is to soldier through until you are in a position to force change, which is a long hard road for many and you would probably lose the passion long before you get there when you work out that people skills and cliques and other things are almost as important as the actual work in many places.

Finally you can keep your eyes open and learn 'how not to do it'. Then when you do get yourself in a position of responsibility you can run a good tight ship and do things properly.

My own strategy was to learn as much as I could for a few years and then leave for a better opportunity in terms of responsibility, pay, or something with a good chance of moving forwards. When I finally went it alone I was so much more efficient than the competition that I didn't have any issues getting started. But my end goal was always to go it alone, so jobs were just stepping stones. You need to set a goal for yourself.

Many people take care of the 'soul' part of things by designing and making their own projects outside work where they have total control and can let their skills really shine. I have actually learnt a lot messing around with home projects where I have stretched my imagination and skills to the limits.

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