Ask the Expert

How can I make my managers do their job?

Let me first quote what you wrote in your blog: "Develop your soft skills along with your technical ones. What does this mean? It means working on your speaking abilities, interpersonal communications, management skills (for both projects and people), writing abilities and generally stoking up your ability to 'work and play well with others.'"

I must strongly agree with your suggestion, but the problem is that we found more and more people in the management positions taking advantage of the job market situations to play god. I have been in the work force for more than 25 years with 15 years in IT. Only after Y2K did employers have the upper hand and management thought they ruled the world.

I currently am in a production support role. My current manager does not spend any time looking at any e-mail I write about the problems or potential issues we might have. When production snafus keep recurring, I get blamed. Every time it happened, I brought up the e-mails in which I indicated the potential problems months before it happened. It got to the point that I became very frustrated for not being able to do anything to prevent the problems or for not being able to get my manager to read my e-mails.

This past March, there was a major issue that impacted our client, and I was invited to a meeting to identify the root cause. As usual, I was blamed for the problem. It forced me to bring to attention an e-mail I sent out in December of last year. In the end, I said that the issue happened too many times and no one spent any time to do anything to prevent it from happening again. I was not allowed to fix the problem when I suggested that the development team must revisit the process. In addition, I also pointed out that my manager never paid any attention to any of my e-mails. Because I am not a manager, I was not allow to use the terms "suggest" and "must"; I was not allowed to point out my manager did not do his job; therefore, I was reprimanded.

Here are my questions:

  1. What should I do, since I cannot get any one to pay attention to what is happening?

  2. How can I get my manager to pay more attention to what we need to do?

  3. Quitting is my last option, but I would rather find a way to make people realize we each have our responsibility. Should I go up to the chain of command for these situations (this has been happening for four years)? I am not talking about just getting people to pay attention to their jobs and responsibilities, but also to be fair. Will it help me, or might I end up getting fired since the state of Georgia allows an employer to fire any employee any time without a cause or reason?

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Boy, are you in one heck of a situation! My sympathies! Basically, if you can't find somebody else who's higher up in the chain of command or who's designated to play an ombudsman role in your organization (which basically means it's their job to deal with crazy situations like yours), you are out of luck in that position. If nobody will listen, though, and I know it's a means or strategy of last resort, I have to urge you to look elsewhere for employment, if only to keep your sanity as intact as possible.

As for answers to your questions, I'd urge you to seek somebody out in your organization who does the same kind of thing you do, but who's been doing it longer and -- most important -- successfully. They should be able to tell you how to work with your current situation and offer some advice. If no other options present themselves to you, consider going to HR and simply dumping the whole situation in their laps. It sounds like you're being blamed for something your manager should be handling: They can either help you understand why they believe this isn't the case, or start the wheels turning to redress the situation. Frankly, though, I think it may be easier and less stressful to bag it and go somewhere else.

Good luck.

--Ed--

This was first published in October 2004

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