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Dear Todd Parker (04/19/2017)

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Dear Todd Parker,

I’ve got a bit of a situation at work and I’m not really sure who else I can speak to about it.

I have this supervisor – we’ll call him “Bill” – who has become kind of difficult to deal with. It isn’t that he’s a bad person, or even a particularly bad boss (I mean, he’s not the greatest, but I’ve definitely had much worse).

He’s just … needy. In an odd way.

For whatever reason, he’s started doing this thing where he has to come let me know every time he accomplishes anything. Seriously, if anything gets done – and we’re talking baseline, everyday stuff that’s right in his job description – he comes and almost brags about it to me. This is not above-and-beyond the call of duty work; this is stuff that he (and I, and everyone else in the department) do ALL THE TIME. It’s like he wants praise or a reward or something for doing the bare minimum.

As you can probably imagine, I’m struggling with this a little bit. Honestly, I have plenty of work to do myself; I’m not really looking to validate someone every time they accomplish a basic task.

What do you think this means? Is this something that will peter out? Or is it just going to continue until I say something and/or snap? How do I handle this?

Irritated in Brewer

Dear Irritated,

I feel your pain. I’ve been in similar situations over the years and it is supremely frustrating.

First things first – DO NOT feel guilty about these feelings. They are 100 percent justified. It’s like you’re dealing with some weird inversion of the office dynamic. Remember, it isn’t your job to judge Bill’s output – he has a boss of his own for that. Really, he should be evaluating YOUR output – that’s how these hierarchies usually work, after all – but how seriously can you take him when he’s showing up at your door five times a day looking for a belly scratch and a cookie?

It’s a tight spot for sure.

As for why, well … that’s tough to say. It sounds like Bill might be dealing with some sort of insecurity; perhaps he’s trying to prove to you that he’s deserving of his position or maybe he’s intimidated by your production for some reason. It could be any number of reasons, but deep down, he’s probably just dealing with the onset of imposter syndrome or some such thing.

Or maybe he’s a thirsty weirdo. Again – tough to say.

What to do is a whole different thing. He’s your boss, so you can’t just tell him to eff off. However, if it has reached the point where it’s negatively impacting your own productivity, it has to stop. Ideally, you’d be able to speak to him like an adult and just explain that you’ve got your own workload and that you trust him to handle his work properly (even if you don’t). More likely, the conversation will result in a (hopefully brief) stretch of awkwardness.

Or just keep a bag of Oreos in your desk. Really, the choice is yours.

More in this category: « Dear Todd Parker (03/15/2017)

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