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Dear "Work Therapist" - Stubborn Manager

Fadoua Community Leader Sep 14, 2021

What is the best way to deal with a Manager who is not technical at all, doesn't have any experience in Applications we are administrating, and barely listens when we try to explain a very important IT concept?



5 answers

3 votes

Dear @Fadoua

Oof, first of all, I'm sorry if you experience this now or have in the past. The situation you describe not only sounds difficult to work through from a productivity standpoint, but emotionally hurtful as an indicator of disrespect. Of course, the manager character may not intend malice, but to assume they already have the right knowledge is to assume they cannot learn from you.

At the end of the day, the best way to clear this up is to have a conversation with the manager. As someone who too has a manager, it isn't always easy to address this topic directly. If you can, that seems like the most straightforward option. If you can't, there are other ways to address the situation, such as the next option below.

In cases like this, the problem may not lie in the specific interaction, and instead, lie in an understanding of what part each member plays. That said, it might be helpful to run a Roles and Responsibilities Play, or more simply, to document what teammates do for the team and each other. By doing that, there's an acknowledgment of where the lines stop and start (and whether there might be overlap). So if technical expertise or administration status falls under your domain, you can refer back to that documentation as a source in the event behaviors don't change right away.

I hope this suggestion is helpful, but if not, do let this group know what blockers you see. Alternatively, I'd love to hear what you've tried or considered trying in the past. It might be worth exploring those options out loud as well.

No matter what you try next, good luck! This is a tricky situation given the power dynamic and I hope at least some kind of change happens.

Fadoua Community Leader Sep 15, 2021

Thank you @Christine P_ Dela Rosa ! I will see how I can implement some of your suggestions. 

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1 vote
John Funk Community Leader Sep 15, 2021

Hi @Fadoua  - agree with most here that there needs to be a conversation with the manager. And definitely in a non-emotional format. Maybe start asking about his/her decision making process so you can better understand. And then ask at what point in that process that team input could be considered. And continue from there. 

Fadoua Community Leader Sep 15, 2021

We need to have a discussion about it definitely. I am not the only one seeing this issue other team members raised their concerns as well. Thanks @John Funk !

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1 vote
Jacob Vu Community Leader Sep 14, 2021

Hi @Fadoua

I find it helps when speaking to managers who don't understand important technical concepts to explain in a way that they would understand. If they're more business objective / outcome oriented, I would re-frame what it is that you're looking to do in a way that aligns with business objectives/outcomes that they have.

Hope that helps.


Fadoua Community Leader Sep 14, 2021

Oh sorry if I didn't express myself well. The problem is they think they know everything. They barely let you talk. They can be very smart and fast learners but the problem they don't listen at all. A good leader should listen more than they talk. Do you agree? 😉

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if they are not listening, maybe email them the details or a link to the details

I capture details in Confluence, and if need be, send the link via email or Slack with a brief summary

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Fadoua Community Leader Sep 14, 2021

I will definitely try it. Thanks @Warde Wynter !

Hi @Fadoua , in my opinion, it does not matter what your manager can. More important is what type of relationship is built between your manager and you / your teammates. Based on my experience I agree with @John Funk that it is really difficult to talk to the person when you expect more than he has.

When I have a manager, I automatically suppose that

  • he is smarter than me
  • he should know what I know
  • he has his own experience with tools we sell/implement
  • ...

But quite often my manager is good in other stuff (leading discussion, team connecting, negotiation...) and it is up to me to explain things in detail (as you'd do with a small kid). Yeah and it is the hardest part... to be patient. But if I'm patient enough and my manager knows he can trust his team, we can build amazing team....

Fadoua Community Leader Sep 15, 2021

His personality is great, fair to everyone within the team. The only one issue is convincing him to follow our regular process no matter who is submitting the request. When problems arise we will get the blame which is bad for him as well. The processes we have are to make sure that the work is done properly and also in case something goes wrong our bases are covered.

Thank you for taking time to share you input @Martin Bayer _MoroSystems_ s_r_o__ !

Christine's response has some great suggestions. This has to be tackled with the individual first, but with all emotion put aside. Use specific examples and back them up with the facts about the problems they cause for you and the rest of the team.

If this doesn't work, maybe look for other teams who your manager interacts with who also see the issue. Maybe get them to have a quiet word. This works better if they are giving feedback as part of your manager's personal development.

Best of luck. This isn't an easy situation.

Check out this link for some ideas of how to speak to your manager

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Thank you very much for thelink @Colum McAndrew ! Just finished work then read it. 👍🏼

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