Feeling Paranoid? Ask Madeleine

Woman peeking through blindsDear Madeleine,

I’m a regional VP of sales for a very high-pressure software company. My people are amazing. We have reached goal every year for the last five years and are 100% to goal right now, at the beginning of Q2.

My people are not my problem; my problem is that I can’t seem to get right with my fairly new boss. Every time I try to talk with him, he doesn’t really engage. I always feel like I’m annoying him. The only feedback I get is that I am too soft on my people and need to be more focused on the metrics.

A long-time colleague with whom I had been friendly is head of another region and I’m pretty sure our boss is trying to create competition between us. That would be okay, except she seems to have become really tight with the boss while I am being shut out. She is not returning my calls.

I wonder if I am being pushed out—but why would that be happening when my numbers are so good? I feel off-center and paranoid and have never felt like this before in a long and successful career. How do I fix this?


Dear Paranoid,

Why indeed, would anyone want to get rid of such a successful sales leader? Most companies would kill for your track record. There is an old New Yorker cartoon that shows a guy in an office wearing boxer shorts and sunglasses, smoking a cigarette and drinking a martini, saying to a shocked colleague, “When you’re nailing the numbers, they don’t ask questions.” It still makes me laugh.

It’s so interesting to me that anyone as tenured and experienced as yourself would doubt their own experience. Cut it out. Stop second guessing yourself, and instead ask yourself What’s really going on here, and what am I going to do about it?

Let’s focus on what you can control—your own actions.

Possibly, because you feel so alienated from your boss, you are not giving him enough information about your day-to-day activities and he is left wondering. You can fix that by making sure he has a weekly written report detailing the metrics he cares so much about and highlighting important decisions you have made.

You can also make sure any other peers or superiors you work with are saying glowing things about you to your boss.

Ultimately, you have no way of knowing your boss’s motives. Many people who are hired into senior positions want to bring in their own posse. Or maybe he just doesn’t like you. If you have really made the effort to communicate with him and have asked for feedback that is not forthcoming, I recommend you read the writing on the wall. There is nothing but opportunity for someone who can lead a sales team and blow away the numbers, so all you need to do is pick up the phone and call some of those recruiters back.

To paraphrase Joseph Heller in Catch 22, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

Good luck.

Love, Madeleine

About the author

Madeleine Blanchard

Madeleine Homan-Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine? Email Madeleine and look for your response here next week!

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