Help! My Manager is a Jackass!

Last Updated Dec 29, 2009 3:32 PM EST

I recently received this comment from a Sales Machine reader about a dysfunctional relationship with a boss. Here's the comment, along with my advice.
I'm an admin and I report to a Director, but support two other managers. I get along with the Director really well, but one of the other two managers seems to think all I do is work for him and that everything happens instantaneously.
For example, he will send me an email with a task and then walk up to me five minutes later to ask if it's done yet. I admit, most of the time I haven't read the email yet because I'm working on something else, but will read it while he's standing there. Then, I have to explain that his task will take hours (if not days) because it's not just a click and here you go deal, but I will have to request a special report and put it in a usable format.
He seems okay at that point and accepts what I say, but then I'll get a call from my Director (reporting boss) saying that he's badmouthing me again and has put a complaint into HR. Even my director is saying she just wants to smack him for the things he's saying.
I get great reviews and increases, but it's still all going in my HR file and I've had to sign official notices. I've been with the company nine years and would love to advance, but am afraid this will put a bad light on any new perspectives.
I love my (reporting) boss, but the one manager makes everyday miserable. What do you recommend? FYI, the third manager seems pretty neutral in the whole deal; he likes my job performance, but not willing to get into the middle of this whole deal.
This is more the sort of thing that my colleague Stanley Bing handles. (Note: if you're not reading Stanley Bing regularly, stop reading this post and sign up for regular updates. He's required reading for anybody in business. Period)

However, since you asked ME, I'll do my best to answer. Here's my best advice:

  • STEP 1: Don't take it personally. You are being used as a pawn in a game of corporate politics. The dissatisfied manager wants his own admin and is purposely making your life miserable hoping you'll quit, while providing "evidence" that you need help in the form of another admin, reporting to him.
  • STEP 2: Don't expect too much. The fact that your director continues to tolerate the behavior (and that the other manager is steering clear) says that the obnoxious manager has enough clout to act unfairly. It's one thing to claim you want to smack someone; it's quite another to actually do it.
  • STEP 3: Get it in writing. Go to your director and ask to have a letter put in your employee file stating that the complaints of the manager are unreasonable and that your work has been exemplary. Do NOT tell the jackass that you're doing this. Just do it.
  • STEP 4: Control your schedule. Keep track of the hours that spend taking care of each of your managers. Document the fact that the jackass gets his fair share of your time. If he demands work that intrudes into time committed to other managers, ask him to ask them to free up your time.
  • STEP 5: Find another job. You may not need one yet, but the truth is that any organization that tolerates that kind of idiocy has got problems. And if since nobody is apparently willing to stand up to the jackass, he'll probably end up as the big boss, eventually. And he'll still be a jackass, only worse.
READERS: Care to chime in?