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I work in a department's IT group, but not in the IT department. Our department is large enough to need it's own IT staff at about 250 departmental people with 10 IT people in our group.

In the spring, our supervisor left the department. As the "Senior" staff member in our team, I've been working as the "acting" supervisor while they work to fill the supervisor post. our team reports up to a manager who has no IT background at all. We are at a site about 5 miles away from the manager's building.

Over the last month or two, this manager has been "routing around" our team to get IT things done. He's having people in his building do things that are technically our responsibility. So we will find out through the grape vine that he's asking questions about purchase orders we have open or other budget matters -- questions to people who aren't in our team.

Or more recently, he asked the main IT department to take over some of our operations. We didn't know he'd been talking to them. We just knew that their staff showed up one day to work on something. In talking to them to find out why they were there, it turns out the manager had asked. But he never told us anything at all.

I don't mind the things he is doing; He's helping us by shifting things that we don't have the resources to do to groups who do have the resources. But we need to know about these things so we can work with those people and help them.

My team is getting somewhat defensive, fearing that the IT department is trying to "take over" our group. I am confident that's not the case. But the lack of communication from the manager is creating a vacuum. And false rumors are filling that vacuum.

I don't want to come across as whining or complaining. But we need to know the things he's doing that impact our team, or else we can't do our jobs effectively. And at least in some cases, we probably have internal knowledge that is relevant to the decisions he's making, but he's not seeking out our expertise.

How do I approach the manager and respectfully request that he keep us informed of decisions he's making on our team's behalf?

  • Ask yourself why is it beneficial for this manager to go around your team. Then figure out how to make it more beneficial to go through your team. – Mister Positive Aug 11 '17 at 14:18
  • So have you had a meeting with the manager about their expectations of you in your role as acting supervisor. Seeing as this person would be acting as you immediate boss during this period between actual supervisors, I would think this would be approriate. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Aug 11 '17 at 14:40
  • For the glass half empty perspective: you should update your resume. Specialist IT groups are a favorite cost cutting target when there is a corporate IT group. If your manager can show to his superiors that the corporate IT group can meet the department's IT needs, then your group may find itself no longer needed. – Eric Aug 11 '17 at 16:02
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Take the direct approach and go to lunch together. Since you're senior person, it behooves you to build a rapport with him anyway. That can be the reason for the lunch, that you just want to build a healthy relationship with your boss (which is true).

You then use that time to discuss a bunch of things. Then you bring up him doing it as casually as you can, in the middle of the lunch and not at the beginning. Ask inoffensively, "I'm just curious why you haven't asked us?" and inquire whether your department isn't doing things as well as it could.

The way you ask him to stop is to stress that you want to be as efficient as possible and suggest that coordinating with you will actually get things done better and faster, etc. Stress that you only want to help, that you appreciate taking the load off but you can service him better if you can track things.

Ask him how you guys can improve. He probably doesn't know, but he'll certainly appreciate being asked. It acknowledges his authority and seeks his guidance.

Ultimately, if he won't stop, there's nothing you can do. He's the boss and your only other option is to go over his head, which would be fatal to your job.

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The best way to fix communication break down is to open the lines of communication.

Ask to speak with this manager and tell him what you told us. To be honest I think you can almost use exactly what you said to us in the second last paragraph. Something along the lines of:

Hi John,

We really appreciate shifting some of our responsibilities to the other team. This has taken some strain off of our workload that will allow us to work more efficiently. Can you please keep us in the loop of any other changes that could affect us? It took us a little while to adjust to the change because we didn't see it coming. If you could, next time just drop us a line so we can all be on the same page.

As for asking the other IT group for recommendations, there isn't really too much you can do about that. As the manager, he can choose these types things with reason or just arbitrarily. Pick your battles.

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You're going to have to show him the downside of not keeping you informed. The emphasis on respectful would be the scenario based on an emotional response, but you will have to keep your feelings out of it, or save them as the last thing that you mention. Instead, you need business justifications. Is the current situation hurting productivity, morale, mission-readiness? In what ways? Can you quantify things into hours or dollars lost? These are the things that get people listening.

If you can't get into a dialog without a very strong set of evidence to back it up, he's not going to "bite". On the other hand, if you have a strong case and he doesn't listen, maybe someone above him will.

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