Monday 11 March 2013


I've got a meeting with my boss's boss tomorrow.  In that meeting - which is in the diary at my request - I'm going to essentially tell him that I want to change job roles as I am increasingly finding that I can't work with my boss.

Clearly, this is not something that I do lightly.  Apart from anything else, this is something of a challenging conversation to have without coming across like a whiny little baby.  Boo hoo, etc.  I've thought about that, though and it's a chance I'm going to have to take.

Two things have triggered this:

A couple of weeks ago, the director of my department stood up in front of everyone at a briefing and said it was really important to him that everyone was happy in their work.  If we weren't happy, he said, then we should tell him so he could do something about it.  I'm not happy.  As you might remember, six months ago, I nearly quit my job in frustration.  That can't be a good sign, right? Perhaps I should still resign and do something more fulfilling with my life, but I actually really enjoy large parts of my job: I like my colleagues and I like my customers and I actually believe in what we're trying to do.  What I have been completely unable to get my head around is my total inability to get through to my boss or to even help him understand that I can make a contribution; that I can help him.  I'm actively being kept away from areas where I can help and have even, in one case, been expressly forbidden from talking to one of my stakeholders without him being present to supervise my conversations.  I come back from meetings we both attended to single line emails sent via BlackBerry suspiciously demanding I share my point of view on what just happened, as though I'm secretly harbouring seditious thoughts ("I saw you talking to X and Y after the meeting.  What were you discussing?"  WTF?) .  I get consistently good feedback from my customers and I think they at least value my input, but I'm starting to doubt my own worth and this simply can't go on.  It's an increasingly toxic environment and I'm going to do something about it.  For my own sanity, if for no other reason.  I know I can be difficult to manage, but this is different.  I've always been able to say something positive about every single one of my bosses.... until now.  I hate that change.

The other thing that made up my mind was a conversation with C.

C is extremely successful in her own career and is doing brilliantly well on the back of her own talent and hard-work.  Naturally, I bend her ear a lot about my frustrations and how I find it incredible that my boss can destroy his relationships with his key business customers - and he's an open joke with some of our most senior business stakeholders  - and that my department rewards him for this by increasing the size of his empire.  You know what C. said to me?  She said that I should tell someone.  "If it was me, I'd want to know".

She's right, too.

Now, I'm not a complete fool.... I'm not going to wander into this meeting with a set of grievances that I'm going to emotionally list out in full.  As it happens, the guy I'm meeting also runs the area of the department I most want to get into, so I can use that to put a positive spin on the whole conversation.  But he's no fool either and he's heard feedback like this before.  What I am going to do, is to look this guy in the eye and tell him that I want to move and to leave him with no doubt about why.  Hopefully without looking like a cry baby.  At least then I will know that he knows.

To paraphrase Martin Luther, 'I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other'.

Wish me luck.


  1. Good luck. I'm normally quite a passive office drone but I've dealt with grievances once with a blazing row in the middle of an (open plan) office and another time with a carefully constructed letter via the union. And in my experience the guy at the higher grade prevails (not me, need I add). I wasn't reprimanded or penalised following either incident, just fobbed off. I left both those jobs.

  2. I'm not really pursuing a grievance against this guy. If it's me or him, then he can keep it. I've just worked out that I can easily live without this shit and I'm trying to do something constructive about it. I genuinely like and respect his boss and have a decent relationship with him, so I'm going to do him the decency of having this conversation face-to-face. As it happens, the other area his boss looks after is one that I really am interested in - it's by far the most fulfilling thing I've done in the last 18 months - people stuff - and I want to do more of it. I just won't duck the other stuff. I do think it's important that I have this conversation - with as little whining as I can manage. I'm going to try and keep this about me and how I feel and he can infer the rest from what I know he's been hearing from other people.
    Worst comes to the worst, I'll just sign up for that creative writing masters!

  3. That went really, really well. No concrete outputs yet, but I couldn't have hoped for more and I think I even managed to avoid sounding like a whiny baby. Job done. Watch this space.

  4. My boss's boss was more than receptive.... he welcomed the idea of me working on this other area and was keen to explore some of the reasons for my unhappiness. Things were only made perfect by my boss arriving and clocking who I was having a meeting with and being unable to do anything about it. I discovered yesterday that he's omitted me from the list of people he's asked for feedback. No matter. I've spoken directly to his boss. Tee hee.