New Manager Doesn’t Have a Clue? Ask Madeleine

Dear Madeleine,

After years of working under a very bright, well organized manager who communicated clearly, I now have a new manager who is—well, a twit. He was a new hire who managed another department and when our old manager left they moved him into this job.

It is a lateral move for him and he is not happy about it. He has made no effort to understand what our department does, and he doesn’t seem to have a clue. He crashes into our regular department meetings and throws out tasks for people to do with no rhyme or reason. He does no follow-up and gives no rationale for the huge amount of “make work” he has us all doing.

A few days ago, he demanded that I create a report and said he needed it for a meeting early the next morning. I stayed late to do it although I didn’t understand what he was going to do with it. As it turned out, he didn’t do anything with it—I heard from someone who was in the meeting that he never presented it.

He constantly lectures us on how we need to work harder to compete and keep up with the digital age. It is all hot air and totally irrelevant. We all hate him.

My immediate problem is that he will soon be doing my performance review. He doesn’t know me at all and was not involved with the original goals that were set. I crushed my goals this year and I am afraid he won’t give me the top ratings or raise I deserve. I am also afraid my face won’t be able to hide the contempt I feel for him.

Battling the Twit


Dear Battling the Twit,

Well, this sure sounds stressful. It’s hard to go from having a great manager who keeps everyone producing on an even keel to one who creates chaos. And you are not alone—I get piles of letters that begin this way: “My boss/employee is an imbecile/a cretin/a psycho/a criminal.” Your new manager sounds like a nasty combination of all the above.

Chances are that this manager is madly casting about for some direction and either too proud or too ignorant to ask for help. So here’s a thought: offer to help him! Offer to share your department’s goals and how your goals mapped to them. Be prepared to show in writing how you achieved all your goals for the year and how your work helped the department and the company. Ask how you can help him be successful in his new role. Make yourself his guide and helper. It might just work. Either way, you will know that you have taken the high road and made an effort.

If you prepare rigorously for your performance review, it will hard for him to disagree with you. Get as much feedback as possible from people you work with—peers, internal clients, matrix managers. There is a perspective that everyone is doing the best they can do given their worldview, experience, and skills. Adopting this view may help you find generosity in your heart and keep the contempt off your face. Failing that, practice iron-clad self-regulation. If you don’t get a fair rating from him, you need to be ready to escalate to HR.

Ultimately, you are going to have to either find a way to live with this situation or find another job. It won’t hurt to brush up your LinkedIn profile and your resume. It isn’t fair, but don’t let that stop you from being prepared and doing your best.

Love, Madeleine

About the author

Madeleine Blanchard Headshot 10-21-17

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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