open thread – September 20-21, 2019 — Ask a Manager

I’ll spare you the details, but about two years ago, I was internally promoted to work on a new team with a head honcho, Bob. Unfortunately, he hired someone, Jane, who sabotaged my work, quietly bullied me, and excluded me from all meetings. Jane wanted me gone, and she was successful. Jane also wanted me gone from my current job, but she failed at that. Bob demoted me back to my old position. During our final and extremely awkward conversation, it was clear that Bob wanted me to like him. It was then that I laid out what had happened and the lack of action. (I did not call out Bob, but that was the gist.) All of the sudden, Bob spent 20 minutes begging me for forgiveness, claiming he was new at management (he was NOT), it was all his fault, and he didn’t give me a chance to succeed. In a moment of frustration, I told him I’d never work for him again. He was hurt, but he should have seen that coming.

The thing about Bob is that he’s obsessed with being a good manager or maybe being SEEN as a good manager? I don’t know. There isn’t a management book he HASN’T read. Unfortunately, none of that has cured him of his fear of confrontation, especially confrontation between two women. One of the reasons he got that job is because he touted himself this way and his life for “making teams great.” Yeah…I don’t have a lot of respect for Bob.

Every now and then I see Bob. I don’t speak to him unless spoken to. When I do speak, it’s one word responses. I leave the room when he enters. Etc. No one has really noticed except the people who know what happened. I say Bob has got some serious courage by trying to make the effort with me.

Why won’t I forgive him? Because I sincerely believe that if given the chance to do it again, Bob wouldn’t change a thing. He’d let Jane do what she did, sit there, and then feel bad when everything blew up. His desire for my forgiveness isn’t about me but rather his own conscience. This isn’t the first time that something bad started getting out of control, he didn’t do anything, and then he felt SUPER BAD about it afterward. So…yeah I don’t have respect for him. He’s trying to shield himself from the consequences of his actions. That’s a no go from me.

Professionally, this hasn’t hurt me. I about to get a major promotion that might put me in more contact with Bob. Is there anything I can say to him to cut off this nonsense? I really want him to leave me alone. The last time we were alone, he kept apologizing nonstop “for everything that happened between us”, and I was terrified about how this would like if someone overheard us — yet another example of him not knowing how to act. He’s making me uncomfortable, especially when the one thing he wants is never going to happen.


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