I was hired five months ago for a position I have done for another government agency. I was hired at the same GS-level, and have been at this level for 3+ years. I love the people I manage, my colleagues, I love the mission, and the new agency. It took a year between being hired and actually being able to get into the position (government, y'all), so there was a lot of investment into getting me on board.

Now, I have a habit of being very direct and open with my supervisors until they shut me down. The shutdown happened about a week into my employment when I told my boss that I did not think she listened very well, and that when I tried to explain things to her she wouldn't let me finish sentences before she started talking. During that conversation she reminded me I was a probationary employee.

Fast forward about five months, and her boss pulls me into his office for a discussion about her. He said he was aware that I wasn't happy, and asked for time to correct her before I left for another job.

As for my supervisor, she has been in this office for nearly thirty years. In that time, she has managed to alienate every single person in the office. This is not an exaggeration, as I have a steady stream of people come in, close the door, and give me the history of her time here.

The problems:

1- I'm being asked to cc her on EVERY email communication, whether it's between me and members of my team or me and people outside of the office.

2- I had an employee who told me about taking her mother to the ER over the weekend. I had a couple of meetings and tasks to complete, so it was two hours later by the time I had a chance to discuss the issue with my supervisor. The employee spoke to her before I had a chance. Before I could, she chastised me (there's no better way to describe, finger-shaking was involved) for not telling her about it.

3- She attends all meetings I have. With my team, with my customers, or with anyone I coordinate with. Every. Single. One. She says this is because I'm new, and she wants to see how I operate.

4- She passive-aggressively complains to us anout her colleague, who is at the same level, but manages the second group. She also does this with her boss, in my presence.

5- She has a tendency to repeat herself, and a five-minute conversation with another person may take her 30 minutes or so.

When I write this all out, it's pretty obvious that I need to cut my losses and move on. But I've made great strides with my team, I have a couple of people that I have really started great friendships with, and I LOVELOVELOVE the new position and the potential. I just go home every day feeling drained, incompetent, and like I waste at least two hours a day on her needs rather than the actual job.

TL;DR: I have a super insecure, micromanaging boss. So short of leaving, any advice on how to cope, how to start a conversation with her (without getting fired), or should I just cut and run??


kjcryblskey's picture


You need to review the MT guidance on giving you boss feedback.  In summary: never do it.

You may have an ally in her supervisor since that person reached out to you first.  That sounds like your best avenue if the information remains confidential.  Stay the course for now and play the game.  It sounds like upper management is aware of the problem; whether or not they can terminate a 30-yr government employee is another question.  Good luck.


delete_account_per_reacher_145083_dtiller's picture
Training Badge

Dear Vanessa,

Kevin is correct, MT guidance is to never give your boss feedback.  They are the boss and nothing good can ever come of it and this may explain of of your boss' behaviour.

Here's my suggestions which follow MT.  Your job is to make your boss look good.  Speaking ill of your boss to their boss is also not wise.  Again, nothing good can come from you and could only potentially harm you.  If the boss of the boss asks how things are going, you should always promote the positive, it's your boss that should be discussing any negatives/improvements with their boss.  Bypassing your boss is not correct and undermines your boss.  Counter to always making your boss look good.

I'm not saying this is easy but as a professional and a manager we often have to do hard work to be successful.

On each of your points - here's another way to look at it:

1.  Add her as a cc.  It's no extra work and what does hurt.

2.  Apologize for not informing earlier and move on.  This seems irritating yet minor

3. As for your boss attending all your meetings.  Take this opportunity to ask for feedback from your boss on what you could do better and then do those things.  As a boss with 30 years of experience, hopefully they have something to share.

4.  Don't comment and ignore.  This stuff happens all the time.

5. Be paitent and listen.

If you love your job, I would suggest you give it some more time and try some of these techniques and listen to more MT podcasts that are applicable to your situation.

If it's really not bearable then network and hopefully your resume is current and get it out there.

Good luck!