New manager shows insecurity

Dear Joan:
I have been employed with this firm for seven years, and in my current position for five years. I have had three supervisors in this position. The current supervisor is in the position for the first time and this is the first time he has had a secretary.

He treats me like I'm the new kid. How can I tell him or get my point across that I have had five years of experience in this position and I do know the procedures and some short cuts in the process we entail.

Your boss is treating you like the new kid because he is feeling like one. Remember the new kids that moved into your neighborhood when you were growing up? Some of them were shy, some seemed to fit right in and others acted like big shots-full of false bravado. Your manager is acting like a big shot who's trying to win acceptance from the neighborhood gang. But, like anyone who has tried this approach can tell you, he'll probably get a few black eyes before he wises up.

He's probably feeling off-balance and insecure about how to use his new role and the power that goes with it. He may have had managers who were lousy role models as he moved up the ranks. He may still be clinging to the outdated notion that bosses are supposed to know the answer to every problem without asking for input from employees. He may still believe that acting powerful means he has power. Your boss may have a lot to learn.

Your new manager may grow out of this on his own, as he becomes more comfortable in his new job. If he begins to win respect for his successes, he will probably back off. Until then, you may want to tread lightly because the only person he may feel comfortable bossing around is you. Unfortunately, pressing your point now may cause him to feel that he has to "act like a boss" and exert his will, so as not to appear "weak".

Avoid saying, "I know that already," or interrupting him with, "I've been doing this for five years!" Instead, begin with a gentler approach. Let him explain his idea or procedure and listen intently. If it seems appropriate, comment on some part of his procedure that will be useful. If he has an idea you know won't work, say, "I can certainly do it that way but I wonder if you're aware of how that might affect X." If he seems receptive, offer another approach. For example, "Perhaps we might try Y. I know your boss likes Z and this would accomplish that."

Using "we" and positioning your idea as one which will make him look good will lessen his resistance to your idea. Using words such as, "perhaps...have you considered...maybe we could try...another idea is" will help him hear your valuable ideas.

Another approach is to use your experience to make some smart decisions that are within your power to execute. Make it a point to tell him what you did and why, so that he gets a sample of what you can offer him. This will help him to realize that your suggestions, short cuts and streamlined procedures are worth listening to.

If you say, "My last boss always let me do it differently" or "I know a better way to do it" he may stiffen and reply with "Just do it my way." Although it's understandable that you want to get credit for your experience and expertise, taking a quiet, nonthreatening approach may win him over faster. If he's smart, he'll soon be asking you for your ideas and appreciating your insights. If he isn't, you may decide he doesn't deserve you.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
About Joan Lloyd
Joan Lloyd & Associates provide
FREE subscription to receive Joan's article by email

Email Joan to submit your question for consideration for publication, request permission to reprint an article for distribution, or for information about carrying Joan Lloyd's weekly column in your publication, or on your Internet or Intranet site. Visit to search an archive of more than 1700 of Joan's articles.
© Joan Lloyd & Associates, Inc.