my arrogant coworker is trying to mentor me, but I’m his team lead

A reader writes:

I recently found out I’ll be moved into a team lead position at my job, leading three others and an intern I’m mentoring. It’s a non-managerial role, and it hasn’t started yet, but there’s been a lot of planning and prep work involved. I’ve been with the company for under a year and had two years of professional experience in our field before this.

I’m having an interesting situation with one of the other team members that I’m not sure how to handle: this guy has been with the company for about two years and some experience before that — so more experienced than me, but not by a huge margin. Before all this, I thought of him as a peer. He’s moving to our team from another team, so I’ve never worked with him before, though there had been a few other interactions we’d had that came off as kind of arrogant, but nothing big enough for me to feel confident that I was interpreting correctly.

He messaged me saying that in his old team, which he used to team lead, he set up a standing 1:1 with the team lead who came after him to offer feedback on processes and things like that. He wanted to set that up with me, and asked if I’d be interested. I was planning to set up standing 1:1s with everyone on my team anyway, so I said sure.

Well, yesterday we had our first 1:1 and it was not what I had expected at all. He brought a book on leadership and handed it to me, saying it had helped him rethink how he approached team leading. The implication was that I should read it, obviously, but the conversation wasn’t “Hey would you be interested in this book? I found it helpful” It was just handing it to me to read, like a homework assignment. It’s one of those cheesy self-help books that I don’t have much interest in reading, as I already have a long reading list, including articles and blogs on leadership that I actually respect (like this one!). The “goals” he wanted to talk about were *my* career goals, and he wanted to know what my plans would be so he could help me achieve them. I had thought we’d be talking about his goals in joining the team so I could help him with his!

I was so baffled that I just thanked him and went along with it, giving him some perfunctory answers. I told him I’d give him the book back once I’d read it, and I think actually said “This was great!” at the end of the meeting — I have no idea why; it just came out. Basically, he seems to have appointed himself as my mentor, even though I didn’t ask for it, and I find it incredibly condescending. The attitude was “let me benevolently help you,” not “let’s get to know each other and build a working relationship so we can help each other out.”

I’m not sure how to proceed from here. The thing is, I do respect his opinion and would likely have asked for his thoughts on many things anyway, at minimum just because I’d gather feedback from all my team members. But I don’t like the way he’s situating things so that he’s senior to me and has everything to offer, and nothing to gain from me — I also have relevant experience that I think he could benefit from! For the record, I already have a manager who I like a lot, and this guy is not officially senior to me in any way that I know of. If my manager had instructed this guy to give me mentorship, I feel confident he (my manager) would have told me about it. I’m am worried that this guy will somehow use this to take credit for my successes (“I coached her through X” or whatever).

For what it’s worth, my friend also works at the company, for longer than I have. Her opinion is that the kindest way to look at it is that this guy is mid-level, really wants to be seen as senior, and is misguidedly following advice that senior people help make everyone else on their team stronger, so he should mentor other people. However, my friend also says that he is pretty arrogant, thinks he’s more skilled than most people in the department, which isn’t true, and doesn’t hold much regard for other people’s opinions. He also was apparently offered the team lead position before it was offered to me, which he turned down because he wanted to focus on individual work. He also went to an excellent school and has a more prestigious work history than I do, but my friend doesn’t think that’s playing a role here (and yes, he is male and I am female in a male-dominated industry, but I haven’t seen any evidence that that’s at play either).

Basically, this feels like a power play, and I don’t know how to respond. I’d like to maintain a good working relationship with him. I feel like I could:

1) Ignore the way he’s treating the meetings, and add my own normal 1:1 stuff to the agenda (including me giving him feedback, too, so he doesn’t think it’s just a one way street) and turn it into a peer-peer 1:1 – or a team lead-team member 1:1.

2) Address it with him head on and somehow find a professional way to ask why the hell he thinks he’s supposed to be my mentor.

3) Something else?

What should I do? And what should I do with the book?

The most generous reading of this is that it’s still very much in his head that he was offered the job first and he sees himself as playing the role of a sort of senior advisor. (Which is a little silly for someone with only a few years of professional experience, but let’s go with it.) It’s possible that the conversation about your goals was intended to convey “I want to help meet your goals for the team” rather than as “I will mentor you in reaching your goals.”

Possible.

But unlikely.

Particularly in light of what your friend at the company told you about his arrogance, and what you’d observed yourself before.

I think you’re right that it’s a power play, even if he doesn’t consciously intend it that way, and the best way to shut that down is to very confidently and matter-of-factly go about being in charge.

That does not mean that you should jam your authority down his throat; that will actually make you look insecure (the opposite of what we want here) and give him ammunition to argue that you need help.

Instead, you should:

1. Subtly take back the 1:1s. Say something to him like, “Now that I’ve had a chance to set up 1:1s with everyone on the team and think about how to structure them, let’s use the attached template for our agendas.” On that template, include sections for issues he wants to raise, updates on projects, feedback on his recent work, your own items, etc. — basically whatever broad categories you’re generally going to want to cover.

Alternately, if you really don’t want to be tied to an agenda template or think it’s unnecessary, you can just be assertive about saying things ahead of time like “Can you add X and Y to our agenda for Thursday?” Or, at the start of the meeting, “I want to talk about X and Y, but first, what do you have?” Or otherwise signal through your words and manner that you’re functioning as his lead.

2. If he asks you in another 1:1 about your career goals, look slightly surprised and say, “Oh, I’d rather use this time to talk about your work, actually.”

But if he asks about your goals for the team, that’s a reasonable thing to talk about, as long as it’s not displacing other conversations you need to have. You can also set limits on that; you want to welcome people’s input, but it’s okay to set boundaries on when and where and how often, so that you’re able to get other things done.

3. Return to the book to him and say, “I looked at it, but it didn’t speak to me as much as I think it spoke to you. Thanks for lending it to me though.” (This may be a nicer response than he deserves, but I’d want more data before concluding that for sure, and there’s nothing to lose by being polite about it at this early stage.)

4. More generally, you can convey a lot by just exercising authority in a calm, matter-of-fact way. That means things like saying “I actually plan to do X instead of Y” or “I appreciate the input, but let’s try X this time” or “Actually, I’m hoping to spend this meeting on X” or “Thanks for sharing your take on this. I’m going to think it through and will let you know where I end up.” In other words, just matter-of-factly being the person who’s deciding things. At the same time, you should also be someone who welcomes other people’s input, because that’s crucial to having a well-functioning team, so you shouldn’t balk at his input or sound defensive about it — just calmly signal that you’ll make the call.

5. But there might come a time where you do need to shut down his input because you’ve already heard him out and don’t need to hear it a third time, or because he’s opining on something he has neither standing or information to opine on, or because he’s doing it in a way that’s undermining to you in front of clients, or so forth. There’s advice for how to do that here.

6. At some point — and I don’t think you’re there now but you might be at some point — you might need to say something to him like, “I’m getting the sense that you’re trying to mentor me. I welcome your input like I do anyone’s on our team, and there are of course going to be times when I’ll specifically seek out input from you and everyone else on the team, but what I really need from you is to go on being an awesome (insert his job function here).” Or, depending on the context, even just, “I’m getting the sense that you’re trying to mentor me. What’s going on?”

The great thing about your situation, though, is that you don’t need to convince him of anything. It’s ideal if your message gets across sooner rather than later, but you are the one in your job, and you can just go on acting with the authority of your role. And generally that does get the point across eventually.

You need to be careful, though, not to be taken so off-guard by his attempts at unwanted mentorship that you inadvertently reinforce it. It sounds like that might have happened in that first 1:1, which is completely understandable because you weren’t prepared for what he was doing. But now that you know to expect it, you can be prepared to politely but firmly push back when he’s being inappropriately mentor-y with you (which could just mean having phrases ready to go like the ones above).

{ 200 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Amber Rose

    Be careful asking for his input going forward too. He probably has useful insights and stuff and you’re gonna want to ask him stuff, but plan out what you’re going to say so you don’t come across deferential. He seems like the type to take any chance to exert control and take over.

    Reply
    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      This reminds me of that letter a while back with the obnoxious report who had an idea the LW’s boss decided to implement and how the LW wanted advice on how to keep obnoxious report from thinking it gave her carte blanche to do whatever she wanted.

      (I may be misremembering some of the details. I’m sure someone else will be able to provide more.)

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      1. Amber Rose

        I remember one where there was one arrogant worker and one solid worker, and the arrogant worker kept nitpicking the other and questioning all the project decisions, and the LW wanted to know how to choose that person’s proposal without them going overboard. Is that the one you’re thinking of?

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        1. Hey Karma, Over here.

          If it’s the one I’m remembering, the overzealous and arrogant worker was let go because her win made her well, basically lose all perspective and become impossible to work with.

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    2. Blue Eagle

      I agree with this and wonder about the AAM advice to ask for your co-worker’s input at the start of the meeting. I would cover YOUR items first, then address co-workers issues after yours are covered.

      Also, I like the idea of using an agenda so that YOU are the person who sets the order of items covered and what is covered rather than your co-worker. If you had handed your co-worker your agenda at the beginning of the meeting, it would have been clear that it was your meeting and not your co-workers.

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      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister

        True, but I’ve also worked in teams where the junior staff member brings the agenda to 1:1s. In my current team, the manager created a template that all staff use in their regular update meetings, and the staff person is responsible for filling it out and sending/printing it ahead of time. Either way, LW as team lead should create the agenda template but also follow their office/team norms about who actually creates and brings the agenda.

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      2. Doodle

        Yes to both of these suggestions. Even if you don’t like using agendas, OP, I’d have one for every meeting and send it to the person you’re meeting with ahead of time. That’s helpful for everyone, not just Mr Arrogant Mentor.

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  2. Ladylike

    I honestly think what I would do is confirm with my manager that I absolutely am senior to this guy and he reports to me (just to make sure I didn’t misunderstand anything). Then I would call him back in for a 1:1 and say something like, “I may have given you the wrong impression in our initial meeting about our working relationship, and I apologize. I was quite honestly taken aback by your tone and what appeared to be attempts to mentor me, and I didn’t respond very well to that due to being surprised. I’ve confirmed with Susan that I am, indeed, your team lead, so going forward, our 1:1s will be structured this way…”

    He sounds an awful lot to me like an arrogant, domineering guy who is trying to strong arm the new girl right off the bat to “mark his territory”. It needs to be shut down and he needs to be put in his place. Just my opinion.

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    1. Dragoning

      I wouldn’t say the “I’ve confirmed with Susan that I am, indeed your team lead,” but. It sounds pretty weird coming from a manager–should they know that already? It certainly doesn’t reinforce authority in my head.

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      1. Hey Karma, Over here.

        Nope, I agree. I don’t think at this point OP should use borrowed authority. Save that for later when he’s doing things like having sub-teams send him status reports or he’s trying to lead meetings. Right now, explain that you thought the 1:1 was about the new team, not about creating a mentor relationship. “I am not looking for that right now, so let’s keep our relationship specific to this project. With that in mind, we need to have this 1:1 be about the project and where you see yourself in it.”
        And then let him talk.
        But only about the project.
        “I think I have a lot to offer you regarding guidance.” “Yes, I understand that from our last meeting. I’d like to hear your ideas about your role in the project.”
        “But I just want to …”
        “If you don’t have any ideas about your role, we can reschedule this, because it’s really important that we all start on the same page.”

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      2. AKchic

        Agree. OP doesn’t need to *say* it, but reinforcing it in her own mind, and possibly alerting the manager now that this is what has happened, in case it (okay, when it does, because you know it will) escalates, will be beneficial.

        OP is the lead. She may have heard a rumor that this guy was originally offered the position and he turned it down, but how true is that? Unless the manager or HR told her, it’s an unsubstantiated rumor and should not be taken seriously. And even if it *is* a verified fact, who cares? He turned down the job, therefore it is not his and he does not have the (nominal) power of that position and OP does. He doesn’t get to wield power he doesn’t have a right to.

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      3. Snark

        Seconded. You have the authority to shut thsi right down yourself. Even as blunt as something like this, with lots of specifics:

        “When we had our 1:1 the other day, you wanted to discuss my career goals, volunteered to serve as a mentor to me in some capacity, and gave me a book on leadership. I didn’t say anything at the time because I was honestly so taken aback by it, but we need to recalibrate our professional relationship moving forward. At this point, as your team lead for this project, I am not looking to form a mentorship relationship with you, and I need you to focus on XYZ and your role as ABC. We will continue to schedule 1:1s, but for me to give you feedback and manage the project, not for you to offer me guidance or support. Do you have any questions about how we’re going to work together on this project? Oh, and here’s your book back.”

        And provide him an agenda, set by you, for every meeting you have with him or the whole team moving forward, as excellently suggested above.

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      4. ClumsyCharisma

        I also don’t like telling him OP was surprised so wasn’t sure how to act. Yes, it’s what happened but how can you expect a guy who possibly already has issues with their leadership to then accept their leadership when they admit they don’t perform well when things don’t go as planned.
        I’m not blaming the OP here at all, I too would be taken aback. But it doesn’t convey a very good message as a leader.

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        1. Gingerblue

          I disagree. If he’s going to use “Your behavior surprised me” as an excuse to disregard OP’s authority, then he’s going to use anything as an excuse. OP reacted in the moment in a way that has probably made him feel validated in his behavior, and OP’s initial reaction of “Thank you” needs to be reframed as “Your behavior crossed enough boundaries that it broke the social script in ways which we need to correct.” When someone is behaving inappropriately, it’s very normal to be temporarily railroaded into going along with it; the clearest thing to do is to note that and correct it after the fact.

          OP, he’s likely to want to focus any discussion on your reaction to his behavior (“You went along with it!”). I’d suggest keeping any discussion centered firmly on his behavior (“You inappropriately tried to assume the role of a mentor towards me”) rather than allowing him to focus discussion on you. He’s the problem here, not you.

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      5. Ladylike

        My thinking with throwing in the part about checking with the manager is that he will understand that the manager is aware of his little attempted mentoring session, and that the manager and OP are aligned on the reporting structure. Also, maybe to insinuate that OP was so shocked by his inappropriate behavior that she felt the need to double-check that he did, indeed, report to her.

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    2. Sloan Kittering

      To me there’s some possibility of legitimate confusion over rules here. He was offered the chance to be the team lead, and there may have been some other conversations around that, which you’re unaware of. This is why I hate the “unofficial team lead” framework, which I’ve encountered a few other times. If you’re not truly his boss, it’s hard to navigate this.

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    3. Blue Eagle

      NO, don’t apologize! And don’t say you might have given your co-worker the wrong impression in your first meeting. Just handle it as Carolyn suggests going forward.

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    4. CM

      I don’t think this script will work because it sounds very deferential, and the OP is quite sure that she is the team lead so she shouldn’t check with her manager.

      I think the OP should categorize this meeting in her mind as a one-time thing where he shared his insight into being a team lead, and going forward should turn the attention back to his work and the team’s work.

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      1. valentine

        he set up a standing 1:1 with the team lead who came after him to offer feedback on processes and things like that. He wanted to set that up with me, and asked if I’d be interested. […] I said sure.
        OP accepted the mentoring. They’re not going to be on the same page until she explicitly rejects it. Ideally, she would’ve said, “No, thanks. I was planning to set up standing 1:1s with the team, so let’s do that now.” Even if he knows everyone else is having lead-member 1:1s, OP has allowed him special status.

        OP: peer-peer 1:1s would undermine you and keep the team lopsided, instead of slotted under you. You don’t have to investigate, but if you were to learn the team lead he previously mentored is a woman and he doesn’t make the offer to men, that might empower you to shut him down and to take back the reins.

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    5. Jules the 3rd

      My impression is that the OP doesn’t agree with this assessment.

      This response actually seems like the ‘push authority down his throat’ that Alison is recommending against.

      OP, if you want a nuanced answer: think about what this employee respects – competence? work ethic? brains? authority? Have you ever seen him show admiration / deference to anyone? Heard about someone he admires professionally? If competence, just having back-and-forth discussions where you discuss plans will probably foster respect, as long as you do not defer to him – you drive the meetings, you do the summary, the ‘ok, it sounds like X is the best solution. Fergus, you’ll do tasks 1 and 2, Amy, you’ve got 3,4, I’ll take 5,6’ bit.

      It’s amazing how effective telling people the plan is for bolstering authority, even if you didn’t come up with all the bits of the plan yourself.

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    6. RUKidding

      Yea I think OP should not discount sexism/male entitlement either. It is *so* common at work and life in general for males to try to be in charge even when they absolutely are Not.

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      1. Lavender Menace

        Perhaps, but LW did say she didn’t think that was at play – and more importantly, I don’t think that should necessarily change her approach here. Through working in a male-dominated industry (in which I am a woman of color), I’ve realized that people’s sexist behavior – especially in the “I’m in charge” regard – is often unintentional and often unconscious. While that’s not an excuse, it does mean that they do sometimes react very viscerally and negatively if you point it out to them bluntly, and so you kind of have to pick your battles and decide when to wield that power and when to aim to change the behavior from a different angle. In this case, I think the OP can effectively take back authority here without explicitly referencing the gender dynamic.

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  3. Anon4This

    Honestly this whole set up sounds really silly from a bunch of people with only a couple years working experience (whether that’s OP mentoring the guy with 4 years experience or that guy mentoring the OP with 3 years experience).

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    1. Sloan Kittering

      There is something weird going on. This guy was a team lead before, but passed on the role this time? And such junior people are all managing and supervising and mentoring each other? I’m wondering if there’s enough real authority and expertise back-stopping this office – which obviously isn’t OP’s fault and wouldn’t change Alison’s advice. Maybe this is field dependent.

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      1. OP

        Hah yeah, the company in general skews pretty young, so it’s not uncommon either here or in the field in general. It’s not supposed to be a management role though – more of a project manager type of deal.

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        1. Flower

          I’ve seen friends deal with that scenario in tech before, especially software engineering. Particularly if one person has strong, say, marketing or big picture skills, whereas the team is mostly technical skills.

          Have also seen that play out in the sciences, particularly when you’re talking someone’s dissertation research, even if they’re early in it.

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          1. Washi

            Yeah, this sounds very much like my software developer husband’s setup, where the official manager often has a business rather than tech background, so there are team leads to manage technical aspects, while the manager deals with budgets, performance reviews, etc. My husband is the youngest person on the team and is still the team lead, since he has really strong technical skills.

            It can definitely be a challenge to manage poor performance though, since often his boss doesn’t have a precise understanding of what skills a person is missing, and my husband doesn’t have a lot of authority to take steps toward firing someone.

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        2. Hey Karma, Over here.

          I’m going to add this hear. It’s important you let him talk…to you. Let him talk himself out. Don’t accept every invitation to discuss, debate, argue or clarify. He’s looking for leverage. He can’t climb over you if you don’t step back.
          And I’m not being Sun Tzu here, I’m really not saying that you are going to war with this guy. In fact, I’m saying the opposite. Don’t go to battle, just act like you are in charge and you will be.
          The old pissing contest and all that…

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        3. Less Bread More Taxes

          I just want to say this as someone who has dealt with team leads before. Were you told to setup 1:1s with your team? That can come across as incredibly condescending from the start. If you’re a project manager, you can manage the project in team meetings or meetings with smaller groups. A 1:1 without any authority over what they are actually doing is pointless and is going to frustrate people.

          I have this at my current job. Someone who has been here just over a year was suddenly made team lead. She demanded 1:1s. The meetings were absolutely pointless. If I was having any issues, I’d talk to my manager, not her. If there were issues with my work, I’d be shocked if someone on my level brought it up because there could be health issues or related that I would not discuss with a coworker, only a manager.

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          1. OP

            Yep, all team leads set up 1:1s with their team members here – our managers are pretty overloaded And want to encourage direct feedback. I know it’s weird in other industries, and it’s not required, per se, but I’ve found it helpful in the past to be able to talk to my team lead directly instead of having to go through my manager for small things.

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            1. CM

              This is kind of aside from your actual question, but beware of set-ups where roles are muddied – especially roles that confer authority. A situation where project managers are doind one on ones because line managers don’t have time or are overloaded is ripe for weird power dynamics and misunderstandings.

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          2. the_scientist

            I think this really depends on the structure of the organization and what the role of Team Lead actually means. My title is Team Lead right now, and that means I manage a number of direct reports- as in, I approve their vacation time, handle performance conversations, and assign and review work. We also have a group manager (who I in turn report to), but I absolutely have authority over my direct reports.

            That being said, if Team Lead in this context really means “project team lead” without that managerial authority, then yes, the situation is a little more complicated!

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      2. Anon Today Anon Tomorrow

        I think some companies set small teams up this way to provide leadership opportunities for their staff, and to provide them with some management experience. I think it’s very industry dependent. However, and especially when it’s not tied to a pay increase/promotion, I tend to think that this is only appealing to less experienced employees. I know I would have probably jumped at this type of opportunity only a year or two out of school, but now i have a couple decades of experience I’d just roll my eyes unless there was additional compensation associated with the role. I’m not taking on more responsibility without more pay.

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        1. Sloan Kittering

          Yeah OP should definitely make the best of it and gain managerial experience that she can talk about later as she moves up in her career, but I do think this framework needs to be taken with a grain of salt for exactly this kind of reason – you’re not able to properly manage the team, because … you’re not their boss. If you all report to the same boss, and especially if your titles and salaries are similar, you’re peers and can’t really “make” them do anything. It’s like being an eternal step-parent where the kid isn’t accountable to you and knows their parents won’t back you up. It’s very frustrating.

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      3. CM

        It doesn’t seem totally weird to me, but I may be picturing him as older in my head than he actually is. Sometimes people try out a role they don’t like and step back from it because they’d rather go back to focusing on something else.

        It sounds to me like he offered the new TL on his old team advice and feedback b/c he used to do that role before. That’s not a totally bad thing if the TL actually wanted it from him. However, he and the OP misunderstood each other when he offered the same thing to her and now it’s weird. Especially because the OP was taken off guard and tried to act like everything was fine (which a lot of us would do).

        I think there’s a chance that he’s trying to preserve his special advisor status on his new team, but I wouldn’t assume he’s going to be pushy about it unless he actually is.

        I think the easiest way to clear the air and make it less weird is to asm for an agenda in advance of the next one on one and then, if the agenda is all about you say something like, “It was interesting to hear your thoughts on that last time but I was hoping we could use our meetings to discuss __ from now on.” Or similar.

        Then if he says he thought you wanted advice or whatever, explain that you misunderstood the offer but if he has specific suggestions about a project or whatever then that’s awesome.

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      4. JSPA

        He wants the fun and power of playing at being the lead, with none of the real work, responsibilities, requirements, and risk of recorded feedback (about bad attitude) that he had in his last role. Because, yknow, he’s an inspirer and am ideas person — they keep misusing him to do actual work which cramps his style. /snark

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    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Yeah it’s bizarre to me that a project lead is having 1:1 with their project team members. That’s what supervisors do…you have team meetings for a team project.

      Also the idea of mentors being assigned has always made me uncomfortable. That’s very…school like. My mentors are high level execs who click with me, not someone in my peer group that I delegate tasks to.

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      1. Lavender Menace

        Well, the delegating tasks thing is weird, but I had two assigned mentors when I first started my job and both worked out beautifully. They are kind, caring, genuinely helpful people and one of them I still meet with every other week 4 years later, even though he’s moved onto a different team.

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  4. AnotherAlison

    Be sure this guy knows how much experience you do have, too. He may not be aware of your experience prior to this company, or doesn’t know it was a full two years. Sometimes people give paternalistic advice to people they think are younger or more inexperienced. Normal people would be embarrassed to find out their assumptions were wrong, but I’m not sure about this guy.

    [I worked with a competitive, arrogant guy like this in my very first post-graduate job. He was a new grad and started a couple weeks after me, but for some reason, thought he was really smart. Everything with him was, “Have you done this yet, have you done that. . .I have, blah, blah, blah.” On the last day of the last round of layoffs there, 3 of us were left by 3 pm. By the end of the day, only 1 person was left in our position, and it was me. A little sweet victory.]

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      1. anonymous 5

        Honestly, I’m not convinced that you need to remind this guy of your experience: it isn’t his place to evaluate it. If you already have the team lead role, it’s yours; whoever was in charge of evaluating your qualifications for the role has already done so.

        I’m very picky about this in my own professional life: I already have the job. I’m happy to discuss my experiences with people when it’s warranted, but in cases where it seems like a power grab, I very deliberately don’t so that there’s not a trace of entertainment of the idea that I need to receive the approval of the power-grabber.

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        1. Stephanie

          Yes, I agree. You don’t owe him any explanation regarding your previous experience. I think that will just feed into his tendency to be condescending with you. And it could come across as you looking for his approval or validation, which will just weaken you in his eyes.
          It’s very easy, as a woman to fall into the trap of wanting to be “liked” by your coworkers, especially when you’re in a leadership position. It’s a trap we’ve been conditioned to fall into, for sure, but it’s still a trap. Try to strive for respect instead. (I admit that this is a tough thing to unlearn, but it is possible.) You got the job. The people in charge put you in this position. That should be all he needs to know. And for what it’s worth, this guy sounds like a misogynistic jerk.

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          1. Sloan Kittering

            I agree, this explanation is coming from a place of looking for best intentions but … they may not be there. I think women especially fall into this trap a lot.

            Reply
        2. GreenDoor

          I agree about not sharing your credentials if you don’t have to. I have a job where I have to oversee a specific legal process within my organization. I have to make presentations about the process to people much higher up on the food chain than me and I deal with attorneys outside our organization all the time. Many, many people assume I’m an attorney and treat me with a great deal of respect because of it. In reality, my background is in banking and finance – nothing to do with my current job. If they can’t tell I’m not an actual attorney, why should I? (Note: I dont’ go before the courts so I”m not misrepresenting myself illegally here).

          Reply
      2. AKchic

        Do. Not. Justify.

        If he wants someone to justify why you are in your current position, he can ask the management, or HR. If you justify your own job to him, it puts him in a position of power. You do not owe him any explanation for your existence or employment. If he has questions in that regard, let him take it up with upper levels and let *them* shut him down. I bet you dollars to donuts he will never dare question their authority or decision.

        Personally, I think that *if* he actually turned down your position, he did so because he thought he could negotiate a better deal somehow, but they chose not to play his game and moved on. So, now he’s mad. However, unless your manager or HR actually told you that they offered him the job first, don’t believe for a second that he was offered your position first.

        Reply
      3. Hey Karma, Over here.

        You can slip naturally into conversation, again, no challenging and no responding to challenging, just matter of fact.
        “I am going to break down the process into these steps. I had success two years ago when I used this structure.”
        “Our company has used 1:1s since I began and I’m going to continue that because over the years, I’ve seen how important it can be.”

        Reply
      4. JSPA

        If he doesn’t, it should be on him to find out. Don’t let him do the professional equivalent of negging, please.

        Reply
      5. Aveline

        Even if he didn’t kn, he shouldn’t have presumed you were inexperienced.

        He had a choice. He could either presume you were confident because the company hired you for a job. He could presume you were incompetent and needed his help. Why do you think he chose the latter option?

        He presumed you weren’t up to snuff and stepped in to “help.” That’s nir ok.

        I don’t think his knowledge of your past should be a prerequisite for assuming competence.

        Reply
  5. Aspiring Chicken Lady

    Ah. Man-toring. He’s man-spreading all over your new position.

    Take your seat at the head of this table and give him exactly the same treatment as the rest of the team.

    You’ve got this, and you’ve got his number.

    Reply
    1. Rachel Green

      LOL!
      “he is male and I am female in a male-dominated industry, but I haven’t seen any evidence that that’s at play either” I definitely think gender has something to do with it…

      Reply
      1. designbot

        yeah, I’m not sure it’s possible to avoid that conferring a little extra entitlement onto him. Maybe even a little extra deference onto her.

        Reply
      2. Former Expat

        Yeah, it sounded to me like the whole letter was evidence that gender had something to do with it. We just have the OPs words, but as a third-party observer, it reads to me as a man who doesn’t want to report to a woman.

        Reply
      3. AKchic

        Yep, I didn’t even have to read “he is male and I am female in a male-dominated industry”. It was written all over the letter, and gender dynamics most definitely come into play here.

        Reply
      4. LilyP

        Yeah, unfortunately people can and will (consciously or unconsciously) treat you differently because of your gender without coming right out and saying it. He doesn’t have to pat you on the head and call you a little lady for his assumption that you need his mentorship to be influenced by gender. Walking the line between being aware of that dynamic & being paranoid about every little interaction takes time to learn I think, and it sucks.

        Reply
    2. KHB

      Ha. Yeah. I’ve got a new guy on my team (he’s been here six months, I’ve been here twelve years and have been team lead for nine) who’s trying to pull that crap with me. We all give feedback on each other’s work; the first time he offered comments on one of my projects, he raised a couple of really good points, and I told him as much. I guess the compliment must have gone to his head, because now it seems like he’s trying to micromanage me with all kinds of nitpicky suggestions. I’m hoping that if I ignore him long enough he’ll settle down, but I’m not sure what I’ll do if he doesn’t.

      Reply
      1. teclatrans

        It’s probably the gendered thing, but just wanted to share that my husband does this sort of thing constantly (and I think it’s cost him some jobs), the finding of errors, getting praise or thanks for it (either because it was genuinely helpful or because hey, he is new and finding his groove), and then somehow thinking that is his main contribution. He does deep dives, too, trying to optimize stuff and show people how and where things are wrong or off-track. This being tech, the people he has done this to have been men, so I don’t think it is gendered in that way, though the behavior itself may have a mansplainy odor to it (even if it’s being done to other men).

        Reply
        1. JSPA

          Unless you’re the CEO, or hired to troubleshoot, it’s always a bit of a power play to expect that you can (re) define your role as “doing what *I* think needs doing.”

          Reply
    3. genderthoughts

      I love the term man-toring!

      Which leads me to something I’ve been wondering for a while. What can you do if this continues long-term with a male co-worker? How do you know if they are a gender-neutral jerk or if they subconsciously feel the right to give women coworkers unsolicited input and direction because they feel superior due to their gender?

      It’s never enough to bring to HR but it’s enough to make life really frustrating.

      Reply
      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        You observe how he interacts with the men.

        I’ve had dudes who are jerks to everyone and then just jerks to me. It’s glaringly obvious when it’s just to me.

        You squash it all the same. I just tell them to get back in their lane regardless.

        Reply
      2. Jules the 3rd

        Return Awkward To Sender (if you don’t read Captain Awkward, go, do it, she’s great too…)

        Calmly, cooly, deploy the following phrases as needed, repetitively:
        “Thanks” (Do your thing, ignoring his advice aka DYT)
        “Hunh” (DYT)
        “I already knew that / looked at that option.” (DYT)
        “That was already the plan. Great minds…”
        Escalation: “Thanks for the input, but this is not your problem to assess or solve” (DYT)
        Try hard not to engage / justify your actions, just let his words flow through and move on with Your Thing.

        If you care for that employee or see a long time spent working with him, you can take him to one side and say something like, “when you X and Y (specific examples from recent history), it comes across as condescending, like I’m not competent to do this on my own. It’s unnecessary and unprofessional. Please don’t give me advice unless I ask you a specific question. ” (This is hard to do calmly, women are not encouraged to confront like this, so practice / role playing may help…)

        There is, of course, the thing where people hearing a statement of a problem jump immediately to ‘Fix It’ when all you want is ‘Sympathize’ – you’re not going to change people’s default response in a professional setting (thank god Mr. Jules likes ‘Fix It’). All you can do with that is stop stating problems in his hearing, and discouraging him from participating when he overhears. (Do Not go complain about it to other coworkers – that leads to cliques and crap, and is giving him too much of your precious brain time.)

        Hope I’m not coming across as condescending… :)

        Reply
      3. smoke tree

        I can’t help but think this is a gender-influenced dynamic, even if the arrogant coworker doesn’t consciously believe women are inferior to him. I’m definitely picking up a mansplainy, paternalistic tone here. Perhaps he really is like this with everyone, but it’s hard to imagine this kind of guy (with only a few years’ experience!) behaving this way with an older, senior male colleague. I would be really irritated if I were the LW, but maybe it would be more helpful to look at these antics as slightly ridiculous and amusing instead.

        Reply
      4. Observer

        Most of the time, it doesn’t really matter why he’s being a jerk. As the others say, you shut it down pretty much the same way.

        Reply
  6. Geneva

    I think if someone oversteps their boundaries as egregiously as this guy, you’re under no obligation to be subtle when pushing back. Tell him you welcome his feedback when it comes to work processes, but as far as YOUR professional development, that’s between you and your manager. PERIOD.

    Reply
    1. Sloan Kittering

      That’s true! I’d push back on most of his advice and say that I’m going to my manager with any questions, not him.

      Reply
    2. That Work from Home Life

      I like this a lot. Next time he gets all mentor-y with you, OP, give him a blank /confused look and say something approximating what Geneva is suggesting, delivered as if you find his behavior extremely bizarre (bc it is!).

      Reply
    3. AKchic

      This. Give him his book back, tell him that you were caught off-guard by his tone and presumption at the last 1:1 and that you were trying to be polite, but this kind of material isn’t appropriate for the meetings you run, nor is it the kind of material you would ever recommend to someone you are directing, so you won’t be recommending it to anyone else and that the point of these meetings isn’t to discuss your professional development at all.

      Then, you will have to be on top of your game in shutting him down when it comes to him attempting to take control of conversations and meetings (group or 1:1’s).

      Reply
    4. Lana Kane

      Absolutely. “I discuss my own professional development with my manager. Let’s move on to those TPS reports”. Notice there’s no “Thank you, but…” in there.

      Reply
  7. CatCat

    I have to admit that I’m kind of generally baffled by the concept of a team lead. It’s a non-managerial role, but people report to the lead? Have 1:1s with them to talk about the non-lead’s work? The non-leads are peers, or are they not peers? What is the role of the actual manager in this kind of thing?

    Reply
    1. Sloan Kittering

      Yessss, I made a similar comment above. A non-managerial team lead is a really dicey situation. Did the position come with a raise and actual delineated responsibilities that everybody respects, or is this an official-unofficial thing. If it’s the latter, which I’ve encountered several times, it’s rife with this kind of issue and OP should be prepared for the difficulties of this kind of setup.

      Reply
    2. Dragoning

      Yeah, I think having 1:1s with someone with…no real authority over you, and is just in charge of, say, distributing work or something (which is generally the case as I’ve seen team leads), is…a bit strange? A bit strange. Especially to talk about goals.

      Reply
      1. Sloan Kittering

        Yeah we totally have project leads that assign tasks to peers, but it’s definitely in the spirit of being peers, and the lead doesn’t have authority over the other people (not in charge of hiring and firing or reviews) – in that context, both OP and this guy are a little out of the norm for my experience, since there wouldn’t really be one on ones or mentorship going on. So this may be unique to OP’s company/field.

        Reply
      2. Anon Today Anon Tomorrow

        I agree. I get doing status/project updates. However, I wouldn’t be interested in having one-on-one’s each week with someone who’s feedback doesn’t mean anything. If it’s not going to impact my promotional opportunities or salary then it seems like a waste of time.

        And to be honest, if someone has a similar level of experience to me and is basically a peer it would drive me nuts to have them try and set career goals for me.

        Reply
        1. Less Bread More Taxes

          OP said above that she’s a project manager, not a people manager. In that case, any talk of growth or goals would be off the table.

          Reply
      3. Batman

        Yeah, in my old position we had a similar position that would assign work, but they weren’t managing in any way and we still had to go to our managers to talk about how we were doing.

        Reply
    3. Foreign Octopus

      My experience of a team lead was to lay out goals by the week/month depending on the projects I had on my desk. Her role seemed to be to keep the boss looped in what everyone was doing so he didn’t have to have individuals one in ones. She was acting in the role of an intermediary and if I needed something to get on the boss’s desk, I had to kick it to her first. But she didn’t have any form of disciplinary power over me; the most she did was help to organise my priorities.

      Reply
    4. NW Mossy

      I can’t speak to how it works in other organizations, but in mine, we tend to have team leads when the team is large – I had one when I was managing 12 people. My lead took care of assigning work (based on an approach we built together) and coordinated/conducted peoples’ training on the technical aspects of the job. In exchange, she received a differential on her pay to reflect the sort of in-between work she was doing. It’s typically considered a stepping-stone position to help an individual contributor build skills to eventually move into leadership.

      That said, she didn’t do 1:1s , reviews, career development, or other managerial duties – I handled that part of it. My lead often had insights into particular strengths and weaknesses in her teammates’ work that was helpful for me in coaching, though.

      Reply
    5. Mockingjay

      It’s really common in shared services fields. Managers deal with hiring, contract compliance, and employee performance and evaluations. Team Leads or Task Leads manage the day-to-day workflow and distribute assignments.

      Reply
    6. designbot

      In my field this might be a team lead vs project lead thing. A team lead would be a managerial role, but a project lead may not be, and would be likely to shift around as it seems to in this office. A project lead would be having 1:1s or organizing team meetings to coordinate and evaluate work that contributed to their project, but wouldn’t be responsible for someone’s overall performance with the company. And someone might be the lead on one project but a contributor to other projects.

      Reply
      1. Sloan Kittering

        If OP isn’t sure, I’d ask, “did you get a significant raise with this position? Did your title change? Is your feedback on performance realistically likely to affect the coworkers, or no?”

        Reply
    7. TechWorker

      In lots of places (including the role I’m in now) it’s sort of a trainee manager role.

      At the moment I assign work, manage the project (managing the project can definitely be separate to managing the people on the project, that’s not too rare and might be what ‘team lead’ means some places) and do 1-1s. I don’t do things like approve holiday, or the appraisal process (I’ve only been in the role 6 months, I would assume I would at least be involved in the latter cos my manager has very little involvement in the day to day of the people on my team). I got a bit of a raise but without having the ‘manager’ official title I miss out on a bunch of benefits/resources so I’m not that impressed with the current situation. (My manager says I don’t do any management but given he barely talks to my direct reports I’m not sure that’s entirely fair).

      Reply
      1. Sloan Kittering

        “so I’m not that impressed with the current situation.” – yes. I’ve actually encountered this situation several times, and I have become cynical – I now believe this is a way to get supervisors that you don’t have to pay supervisory salaries. It’s ALWAYS pitched as an on-ramp to managerial level … but I’ve seen it go on for years, with little incentive on the company’s part to change the status quo. Any raises tend to be much less than what they would have to pay new supervisors. The outcomes IMO tends to be exactly what OP has found – team members who don’t respect the authority of the “manager” because … they’re not really the boss in a meaningful way, and they’re constantly being undercut by the hands-off senior manager who is the actual boss. (Wait till the people you aren’t impressed with get promoted or get raises, while your workhorses get neglected and come to you crying).

        To me, it’s a fine situation for six months or so, but it’s not sustainable beyond that point – somebody put in this situation should probably use the experience they’ve gained to start job searching.

        Reply
        1. TechWorker

          Yeah I think you’re right. I’m actually lucky in that I don’t (with my current team) really have any problems with authority – most of them are obviously more junior and the one senior person doesn’t report to me (though I do manage the project he’s working on) and we generally get on/he doesn’t feel the need to assert himself either. It’s been ~5 months so far and I’ve basically been told I’ll get the promotion once I’m less stressed (which is all of a hilarious ‘nother story given I’m stressed because the project workload is vastly higher than the resourcing). But hey ho! I have certainly considered looking elsewhere – but my actual title doesn’t reflect what I’m doing so ideally I’d get the promotion first (and also be doing the role longer I guess). If it does work out I’ll be earning enough to stay :p

          Reply
      1. the_scientist

        This conversation is so interesting to me! We rely heavily on team leads at my organization (in fact, I’m a new team lead myself) and there is very much additional power (and commensurate salary) there. I said the same thing above, but as a team lead talking about development goals is well within my purview because I actually do have direct reports, and I actually have authority over those reports — I do their annual reviews and make hiring/firing decisions! We also have a group manager (who manages my team + two other teams) but practically the full group is so large that the manager has to delegate a lot of responsibility to the team leads. And as an employee, you develop a closer relationship with your team lead than manager, and because managers tend to be so busy, it’s easier to bring small questions/issues to your team lead.

        That said, if there was no actual authority (e.g. a project or functional lead) I could see toeing that line to be extremely challenging.

        Reply
        1. Sloan Kittering

          This sounds completely different to me, if I’m understanding you correctly. You’re talking about a promotion with a better title and salary and direct reports who know you can fire them. That’s very different from just being told you’re the “team lead” of a team of your peers who have the same titles and salaries as you, and no reason to respect your authority. OP may be somewhere in the middle.

          Reply
          1. OP

            Yep – no reviews; I’m not officially responsible for evaluating their performance, hiring/firing, or doing salary conversations. I work closely with the managers who take my feedback into account a lot since they’re not as involved in the team’s day to day work, but ultimately my job is to make sure the team’s work gets prioritized correctly and done on time (in addition to being an IC myself), not to manage the people on my team. Practically though, of course, what ends up happening is that if there are issues, I try to address it with them directly, which means I’m effectively doing a lot of management work.

            It’s not explicitly pitched as an on-ramp to management, though most managers will have been good team leads before being promoted to manager. And I think this conversation is super interesting, because I had actually seen that as a good thing! I am interested in management but not sure that I want to do it, so this seemed like a great way for me to dip my toes in the water, with an easy way out if I decide I don’t like it, as the role is supposed to be a rotating one that is easy to slip in and out of. It doesn’t come with a compensation bump though (that I know of! Maybe I should ask about that hmmm….) since it’s not a title change (or that’s how it’s framed anyway).

            Reply
          2. Lavender Menace

            I find this take pretty interesting. My team lead, for example, is ‘technically’ a peer in that I don’t report to him and he doesn’t officially manage anyone. However, he’s also been in my industry for 15+ years and has a lot of experience and knowledge that I don’t have. So while, theoretically, I don’t “have to” listen to him…in practice, it’d be kind of foolish for me not to seek his support, especially when his job is to work with the bigwigs/top brass so that I can do my work more easily. Moreover, I do think it would affect my job at least indirectly, in that if I just ignored him all the time I’d be less effective.

            Perhaps I just work on a really good team, I dunno, but in my experience at my company hiring & firing ability isn’t the only kind of authority that’s respected around here.

            Reply
        2. Val Zephyr

          If you have direct reports and decision making authority, you’re a manager even if you’re job title doesn’t include the word manager.

          Reply
      2. MassMatt

        I agree, I worked at a large company where this was definitely the case. Seniors (as they were called) in the call center were to take escalated calls and resolve complaints. But they were rarely given any time do do so, even if they worked OT they would be told to take incoming calls. All this for a pitiful raise, maybe 50 cents an hour. Upward Mobility was laughable, most seniors held the position for years.

        Reply
    8. Doodle

      We have functional teams (that is, teams focused on a particular work function) and there is a lead for each team. Right now all the leads are in more senior positions (eg asst director) but they are not the supervisors of the people on their teams. My team lead is more senior than me, but I don’t report to them. They are in charge of the team and responsible for projects and tasks and deliverables related to the team’s function. As it turns out, my team lead is very egalitarian but some of the other teams are more structured and heirarchical.

      Reply
    9. CaliCali

      In my experience, a team lead is like a supervisor. They could technically be peers on the org chart, but for the project/item/assignments you’re working on, they have authority to ensure those things are done. And the manager may oversee you, them, or both. I think it’s honestly a common setup in the service industry (I had this when I worked retail) so it helps me to think of it that way.

      Reply
    10. Pomona Sprout

      CatCat, thank you for asking this question. I was equally lost, and I have learned a ton from the answers to your query.

      Reply
    11. Lavender Menace

      I work on a team with a setup like this (with the exception of the regular 1:1s, although I have met with my team lead 1:1 before). Not coincidentally, I also work in tech. Very often your actual manager is managing people who work across many different projects and parts of the business – parts that don’t even intersect with each other in any meaningful way. A ‘team lead’ is assigned to manage the work in a specific part of the business, which often means allocating the work to different ICs who are also working in that space. The manager is still the professional development, in-the-system, day-to-day work manager; they know enough about the space to provide good high-level support and advice on career development and techniques to succeed at the role. But the team lead is the go-to for the nitty-gritty daily asks in the particular space and for help cutting through political red tape necessary in that space to do the work.

      On my team, it works out really well most of the time. Our team leads are very experienced folks who have been in the field and on the team for a long time, and it’s nice to have another person who is not a manager to learn from and bounce ideas off of. The other nice thing is that these team leads are very clear about being ICs and do not at all want to be leads, so they never really attempt to take over as your manager, and the lines are very clearly demarcated.

      Reply
  8. Sloan Kittering

    “The thing is, I do respect his opinion and would likely have asked for his thoughts on many things anyway, at minimum just because I’d gather feedback from all my team members.” – Unfortunately, OP, once people start behaving badly, you have to stop treating them the same as you would anybody else, because they just take this as further evidence of their worldview being correct. I had to learn this the hard way, where I kept extending the benefit of the doubt / offering the olive branch to the person who was out of line, because of my own sense of fair play and courtesy. Well, they just took it as a sign of weakness and kept pushing. I should have drawn a much firmer line with them a lot sooner, but I kept trying to act like they were a normal reasonable person.

    Reply
  9. Willis

    I really like the idea of sharing with him a loose agenda for the meetings. And I would put the “do you have things you’d like to talk about?” part at the end rather than inviting him to go first. It seems like it’s ceding too much control over the meeting to him right away, which kind of sounds like it’s already happened with both the initial meeting request and the meeting itself. Don’t let him start with the mentorship crap again.

    Also, I love the wording on the book. If he thought he was “assigning” it to the OP, that blase response is great. Plus it kind of has undertones of “I’m above your cheesy book.”

    Reply
    1. TootsNYC

      I agree. I think even if it’s only for him, you need to start establishing authority.

      So you draw up the agenda, and you monopolize the conversation for a little while at the beginning, or steer it onto the specific issues and questions you want him to provide input on, and you give him the opportunity to bring up his own topics at the END. And make him be short with them.

      And, now you are forewarned about his “mentoring” idea, and you can cut him off by saying, “Actually, I don’t really want to discuss my professional development with you–let’s stick to this specific project, m-kay?”

      Reply
  10. Blue

    I think the problem is that he asked if the OP would be interested in a 1:1 so that he could give advice and feedback on how to be a team lead, and *OP said yes.* In her mind, that 1:1 time was for something else, but in his, she just agreed to be guided/mentored. Perhaps there was additional communication about what she expected to use that time for, but it doesn’t sound like it. I think she’s going to have to explicitly address this to reset expectations. I’d probably open the next conversation by saying, “I was glad to hear your thoughts on leadership last time and I appreciate your investment in seeing our team succeed, but moving forward, I’d like to spend this time focusing on you and how your work can contribute to that success.” I’d then use Alison’s techniques to steer him back on track when he inevitably tries to take over again, but given how arrogant this guy is and the fact that it sounds like OP inadvertently agreed to whatever he was offering, I think an explicit reset will be needed, unfortunately.

    Reply
    1. animaniactoo

      Agreed – when she agreed to his request she didn’t say “I’ll be setting up 1:1s with everyone on the team. I’d be open to hearing any insights you think might be useful during yours.” or something that made it clear that this was not some separate 1:1 for him to impart wisdom to her.

      Reply
      1. Aveline

        Yes, but why would anyone in the “inferior” position in the company hierarchy assume he was there to impart his knowledge to her unless that was explicitly stated? That’s not a logical assumption for anyone to make unless there’s a reason for it (e.g., the person used to have the exact job).

        That would be like a judge setting up a 1:1 with me to discuss something. Unless that judge said “I want your insight on X,” I’d assume I was there to listen to him and to respond.

        Fergus either knowingly did this as a power play or he’s the type of person who is completely privilege blind and biased about his own value and worth.

        Either way, it was not on her to clarify ahead of time because there was no reasonable expectation of the structure he assumed was in play.

        Now that he’s shown he either doesn’t get it or gets it and doesn’t care, she has to respond. But she should not in any way feel his assumptions and actions were reasonable.

        Reply
        1. animaniactoo

          Not quite: He’s held the superior position on another team, and is now stepping down from that authority to be under someone who has not previously held the superior position.

          So, this would be more like a judge who is stepping down to do whatever on your team while you are a newly elected judge and asking if you’d like to set up a 1:1 meeting so he could fill you in on how he ran his chambers/bench/whatever and what he found effective.

          Reply
    2. MLB

      I agree. I also think OP needs to change her mindset on the seniority thing. Just because he has a little bit more experience than you, does make him senior to you. You are the team lead, and he is part of your team. Not saying he doesn’t have any constructive ideas, but he’s not in charge. On another note, I don’t get the idea of being a Team Lead but having no managerial power over the team itself. That makes zero sense to me. How can you have 1:1 meetings with people, provide feedback, give advice, assign work, etc. when you have no authority. IMO, that’s a setup for a whole lot of disrespect.

      Reply
    3. Atalanta0jess

      Yes, I agree with this. Right now, there has NOT been a mis-communication – he offered something, she said yes, but then wished she hadn’t. OP, you’ve explicitly communicated to him that you are interested in his mentoring. So it may be time to explicitly communicate that you aren’t.

      Reply
      1. OP

        Yeah, I think I definitely misinterpreted his initial offer for the 1:1 – since team leads here generally have standing 1:1s with all their team members, I didn’t pick up on the hints that he seemed to think this would be a mentoring 1:1 rather than a normal standing 1:1. I think he probably does think he asked and got permission to do this – it’s just weird to me that he’d offer in the first place, since we’ve never worked together and he doesn’t know much about me or my work habits. I think he just wanted to make sure he’d have room to be able to influence things, in addition to it being a power play.

        Reply
        1. atalanta0jess

          He sounds like a real pain. I wonder if you could just approach this from that angle though. “Hey, I think I misinterpreted what you were suggesting. I’m not interested in mentoring, but will continue to schedule 1:1s to discuss team stuff, like I do with the other team members.

          Reply
          1. valentine

            OP, I interpreted the old team/new lead as meaning that person replaced him on a team he left. Offering to be available for questions, sure, but standing 1:1s, and when his focus should be elsewhere? Seems obnoxious, and it’s worse if that’s ongoing.

            Reply
        2. Aveline

          His “misinterpretation” was not reasonable. It wasn’t something anyone with a clue would do. So either he’s really clueless or he knows and is making a power play.

          Please, please feel no guilt or responsibility for his inability to understand basic workplace norms. This is all on him.

          You may have to expressly state “Fergus, I think you misunderstand the dynamics of our working relationship, it’s actually that I’m your boss and not your peer.” (Don’t even mention anything that might imply he has seniority or experience over you!) Or “Fergus, I’m sorry but I should not have let you take over our last meeting. You were very enthusiastic about helping me, but it crossed over a line and inverted the relationship that the company has put in place between us. After reflection, I have realized that, ror both our sakes, that cannot continue.”

          Reply
        3. TootsNYC

          I don’t think you need to worry overmuch about having established some sort of permission or precedent–I don’t think it changes what you need to do.

          And I might suggest you NOT have 1:1s with him for a couple of weeks, and bring him into them again a little later, after you’ve had a couple with the other people.

          Reply
  11. Mockingjay

    Follow Alison’s advice, but watch the use of softening language in your interactions with him. He will probably seize these as openings to interject himself as ‘manager’ again. He wants your job.

    I really, really like the idea of using a set agenda on work tasks, at least for the next few meetings. It establishes meeting objectives and it’s easy to redirect him when he goes off topic.

    Reply
    1. Sloan Kittering

      “He wants your job.” – except in my reading, he was literally offered this job before OP and choose to decline it. So I’m not really sure what his bag is TBH.

      Reply
      1. designbot

        He wants the respect of the job but not the work of it. “I was offered that job too” is a way of saying “I’m better than you are” without actually having to put in the world to lead the team.

        Reply
        1. LilyP

          dingdingding. He wants to have control over exciting decisions and to feel respected and special and listened to, but he doesn’t want the actual work of the leadership role

          Reply
      2. AnotherAlison

        This was also second-hand information. I don’t have any reason to doubt that it’s true, but one could question whether what really happened was that Manager A mentioned the job was open informally, and all of the sudden Mansplainer is saying he had the job offered to him and turned it down.

        Reply
      3. AKchic

        We have no idea if he really was offered this job or not. Unless the hiring manager or HR confirms it, this is just a rumor.
        I used to work with a temp worker 16 years ago. She was desperate to get hired on full time after the holiday season. She knew that the only way that would happen was if a regular employee left. She told everyone that she was being hired on full time after the season. It was set in stone, she’d already filled out her paperwork. Told the other holiday hires the same thing. Then, she started in on the wives with working husbands. Oh, don’t you wish you’d just stayed home with the kids? You’re missing out on them growing up, such a shame! The one pregnant woman was subtly discouraged from working during her pregnancy. Encouraging others to apply for jobs in other departments, regardless of pay, generally just manipulating in order to get someone, anyone to leave so she could get an opening and try to be that *one* temp worker hired.
        One person was fired for stealing from the registers and she thought she had that job in the bag. She’d already told everyone she’d gotten the job, right? Nope. They fired her before her temp gig even ended because she spent all of her time manipulating and not actually doing the job they hired her to do.

        The more I think about this, the more I wonder if he’d been asked to step down as a lead and was moved out of the other department (or chose to leave the department all together in embarrassment). Of course, that is speculation on my part, and I fully own that.

        Reply
      4. Paulina

        From the rumour, he declined the job to focus on his individual work. If that’s true, then he’s trying to have it both ways — focus on his own work but also tell the actual team lead what to do (while avoiding the day-to-day team lead tasks). I have a colleague like that, and it’s highly annoying when he tries to back-seat-drive my decisions with whatever comes off the top of his head. I just go ahead with running things.

        Reply
    2. LaurenB

      It’s worse, I think – he wants the fun parts of the job without the actual responsibility. Kind of like a team lead emeritus? He gets to give his opinion and feel important, but when he was offered the chance to actually have the buck stop at him, he balked.

      Reply
      1. animaniactoo

        “I know how to do your job better than you, and I don’t want to do it, but I want you to do it the way I want it done.”

        I’d say that she’s going to have to be very careful to say “I understand that worked for you. However, I have a different approach and we will be doing X. Please _____ by ______”, etc. and so on.

        Reply
        1. Sloan Kittering

          Maybe he thought he was comfortable with his choice until OP came in and he realized he was going to have to cede authority, and that’s why he’s being weird now. Either way, it’s not OP’s fault.

          Reply
        2. animaniactoo

          Also – do not feel the need to DEFEND why X is better in her opinion. Simple explanations sometimes the same you would do for anyone else. Everything else is – don’t go too far in explaining. Press it as “I understand that you have concerns. I’ve taken that onboard and we’re still going forward with Plan X. We need to get started now/that’s all the time we have to discuss this right now/etc.”

          Reply
      2. Lynn Whitehat

        Yeah. We have a team lead-type position where I work (scrum master, specifically). The way we do it is, we rotate it on purpose every six months or so. And I have seen people who were just “rotated out” have a hard time letting go, especially if the new lead is less experienced. I could definitely imagine this situation arising where it rotates from a well-regarded senior person to a more junior person. Could be well-meaning, could be a way of establishing “you may be scheduling the meetings, Scrappy, but I’m still the *real* leader.”

        Reply
    3. Marcia

      Except he was OFFERED the job of team lead and declined. Something more is behind this that just “he wants your job”.

      Reply
        1. Sloan Kittering

          From the letter: “He also was apparently offered the team lead position before it was offered to me, which he turned down because he wanted to focus on individual work.” I actually think this was burying the lede.

          Reply
    4. Aveline

      Maybe he just wants deference. It might well be a power-play that isn’t about the job and it’s responsibilities. It may be a power-play about him feeling she has to show him respect and deference in a way he deems appropriate.

      He’s so far out of line here that I have to wonder if he isn’t that sort of dude.

      Reply
  12. pamela voorhees

    [bob belcher voice] oh my god. Seconding everything Aspiring Chicken Lady said (also what a beautiful username).

    I might also have a suggestion to add to what to do with the book, which is quickly glance through it until you find a chapter on mentoring, being a leader, anything like that. Do a brief scan to pick out one or two talking points to make him think you read it, and then come back to the meeting and say “I really enjoyed this chapter on being a leader, and it really spoke to me about how I could be a better mentor to you. Now that you know some of my career goals, let’s talk about how I can help you achieve yours. I understand you’re working on the llama accountability reports? What resources do you need?” I think it would be a good way to balance him being heard, but also, hey, I’m in charge. Plus then you could frame the first meeting as a “oh, I understand that you wanted to get to know your new team lead, but now let’s get down to business.” It’s not going to stop him being arrogant, but really very little you can do will stop that anyway.

    Reply
    1. Observer

      Why would the OP want him to think that she read it?

      If anything, I would say the reverse holds true. She needs to let him know that she didn’t read it because she is managing her reading just FINE, thank youverymuch.

      Reply
      1. Jasnah

        I agree. The only reason you lie about having read a book is because you care about the consequences and you want that person to like you. Here, there are no consequences and who cares what he thinks, OP is in charge. It’s more powerful to say, “Actually I don’t think I need to read that”–puts him and his opinion in his place.

        Reply
  13. revueller

    Alison definitely describes a way more nuanced way of handling things than I would, but in case you need a blunt approach, it may not be bad to come out and say some version of, “Do you have an issue with the way I’m currently leading the team?” Or “I appreciate your input, but I’d like to postpone these conversations for a month until we each have a better sense of each other’s work styles. I’d be happy to talk more about your ideas then.”

    Definitely agree with the agenda advice. Reframing the conversation back on him and his needs in future meetings will also help establish yourself as his manager (you can treat this meeting as a regular check-in where he, your subordinate, airs grievances to you, his manager). You maybe even get to know his mindset better. (I’ve worked with colleagues who’ve felt that some team leads got promoted despite having less experience or competence in a managing role; they then felt like they had to mentor that team lead in order to make sure the team actually functions. He may be worried that this is what may happen with you.)

    If he turns out to be as arrogant as we fear, I wish you luck.

    Reply
    1. pamela voorhees

      I think blunt might be a good approach, especially if this just keeps happening, but I might be a little wary of anything like “do you have an issue with how I do XYZ?” I’m thinking of the scene from Firefly where the captain challenges a crew member “do you wanna run this ship?” The crew member snaps back “yes!” leaving the captain to stare for a few seconds before stammering out “well… you can’t.”

      Maybe you could rephrase it so you don’t give him an opening, something like “if you have an issue, I will take it under consideration” so he doesn’t get the chance to start waxing on about all his good ideas? But getting to know his mindset definitely can’t hurt — like maybe he only feels like his territory’s being encroached on in so-and-so situations, but he’s actually laid back about other things. Or hopefully he’ll calm down when he sees the team functions well, like Revueller says. Or maybe he’s just arrogant.

      Reply
      1. Jasnah

        Yeah I agree that OP shouldn’t offer to engage in his issues, and in fact OP doesn’t have to hear him out. “If you’re not happy with my decision/the way I do things, that’s your prerogative, but this IS what we’re going to do.”

        Reply
  14. Elizabeth

    Ah, the self-appointed mentor – I had one in my 20s. This person was unable to achieve work-life balance due to either imposter syndrome or a need to over-achieve to feel worthy AND a bizarrely twisted home life with a child-like husband that required constant instruction to function on a daily basis but somehow graduated from one the most prestigious universities in the Northeast. I liked her well enough for casual small talk in the office but I did not have any degree of respect for her – and she seemed to decide she was my mentor.

    She handed me a book, too … it was laughable since I think she really needed to read it herself. I vaguely thanked her and proceeded to pull away from her ‘mentoring’ (So, um, I could be like her?? No thanks.)

    My now 54yo self would have handled this foolishness oh, so, differently.

    Reply
    1. Amber Rose

      Some people just love to hand out books. It divorces them from the effort of actually trying to help, while making them feel like they helped.

      I got one for grieving after I lost my mom, from her boss. On the plus side, it was horribad, and made me laugh at a time when I didn’t feel much like laughing.

      Reply
    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      This is why it makes me cringe when people suggest linking so and so to this website to get through to them.

      You can suggest things when asked but just tossing a book or blog out at someone is a mistake. Rarely do people actually give enough of a hoot to go down the rabbit hole of enlightenment so easily.

      Reply
  15. Seeking Second Childhood

    OP you say he was “apparently” offered the team lead position before you were.
    According to what source?
    He may be bluffing.

    I would actually check with your manager on this because it so thoroughly affects your authority on the team.

    Reply
    1. Coffee Bean

      Maybe I am too optimistic… but it really shouldn’t matter if he was offered the Team Lead position first, right?

      Either he wasn’t offered, and he is overstepping. Or he was offered and he turned it down, meaning he is still overstepping as he declined the role and extra responsibility. If he decline to take on the extra work of being Team Lead then he should not get special treatment nor should she have less authority over him. He chose to not be Team Lead, fully knowing that someone else would step in and be his Team Lead – he does not get to just opt out of the org structure.

      Reply
    2. OP

      He didn’t tell me that – my friend did, and I trust that she would know about it cause she’s higher up than I am. To be clear, he has never brought it up with me or used it to justify what he’s doing; I just thought it was a relevant piece of information that might be informing his behavior.

      Reply
    3. TechWorker

      I mean, not really. He turned it down – there may well sometimes be two people on a team who theoretically have the right experience and knowledge to lead it, but that doesn’t suddenly mean the one who actually has the job doesn’t have the authority.

      Reply
  16. Hiring Mgr

    I’ve seen similar situations where the boss has asked OP’s colleague to help out with the new manager given he has more experience, was already offered the role, etc.. Given this is a TL role and not an outright manager perhaps this is OPs first time in any sort of leadership role and her boss wants a steady hand at her side (not that he is..)

    All speculation, but i’ve seen this happen before

    Reply
    1. animaniactoo

      If that happens, it should NEVER come from somebody that is on the team itself, underneath the TL.

      Any manager who would do this is simply asking for the TL’s position and authority to be undercut by the more “experienced” team member.

      Reply
    2. Sloan Kittering

      I do worry that whatever happened in the conversation where this guy turned down the team lead role is what’s cropping up now – like they said something like, “I can’t take that on but I’ll be happy to help OP grow into the role, and offer my experience and guidance” or something. OP says she doesn’t think her boss would do that, but it may have been more one sided or even internal. I actually think addressing it directly may be helpful for that reason.

      Reply
  17. Natalie

    let’s use the attached template for our agendas.”

    This would not come across as subtly reinforcing your position to me. In every office I’ve worked in, my actual superiors would use slightly more mandative wording – “please use the attached template for our agendas”. The only people who said “let’s [X]” were upjumping peers that were trying to assert authority they didn’t actually have. YMMV.

    Reply
  18. Anoncorporate

    Ugh this sounds too much like textbook workplace sexism. A guy not respecting a woman’s authority, giving unsolicited benevolence, etc.

    Reply
  19. Jo

    Ooh this would annoy me. I’ve encountered a not quite the same but sort of similar situation where someone from another team came into our team to help out for a few months, and fairly early on started questioning me and trying to tell me what to do. I’m not that assertive so found this difficult but did manage to shut her down once when she emailed me copying in the team querying whether I’d noticed and flagged an issue when carrying out a task earlier in the week. Normally we’d just let the person who was dealing with the task know about the issue and let them handle it, not question them copying in the whole team. I replied to all saying ‘yes, I already have this in hand thank you’ at which point she started backtracking. So I guess my advice is to be polite but firm if needed. Take his opinions into account and share best practice with each other, don’t stop yourself learning from him just because you’re in charge, but set the boundaries early on.

    Reply
  20. T

    I think I worked with this guy. The best thing you can do is rise above his arrogance and be the better professional. My experience is these people usually don’t know better, but have some sort of insecurity that makes them force their perceived superiority on others. I look younger than I am, and started my current job with 15 years experience under my belt. I had an arrogant, overbearing jerk-ish guy on my team (same title) act like he was in a much senior position than all of us when he only had 3 years experience in the industry. He even went as far as talking over our manager in meetings and telling us what he wanted to see, as if he were our manager. Our boss just let it happen. If you asked him a question he would gloat about it use it to “mentor” us. It’s just a damn question but these types will run with it to show their superiority. My other coworkers got really annoyed and started messing with his work on shared files and moving stuff from his desk (I didn’t participate but thought it was hilarious). I was so, so happy when he left for another job.

    Reply
  21. Frogsandturtles

    Wow. This guy is…wow. I strongly suggest you stop going along with anything resembling him “mentoring” you right away. You do have to deal with the fact that you accidentally encouraged him out of shock/miscommunication, and Alison gave you some good advice about that. But I’ve worked with a decent number of entitled young men /Ivy League ego cases, and in my experience, you need to push back as soon as they step out of line. They usually back off as soon as they know you aren’t a doormat. You might even end up having a more productive working relationship later. It is indeed a power game — one that didn’t exist until he created it, of course — and right now he thinks he is on top. (It’s extremely annoying that you now have to deal with a problem that he created, of course.)

    As Alison said, you can do this without being a jerk — but you do need to do it. Think of it as an experiment that will be very valuable training for your later career. Or just channel Nancy Pelosi.

    Reply
  22. KR

    Hi OP, I remember one time someone wandered into my office that we had worked with on events. It was municipal government so we had an open door culture with the public – they’re paying us, they can walk in and take up our time.
    Sure he was experienced but I had also been in my role a few years and had done a lot of work to improve the department & form processes. He sat down and lectured me for an hour about all the things he thought I needed to do as a woman in tech and everything I should be learning and taking advantage of in my position – feedback I did not need, did not ask for, and that I had heard before. I think sometimes people get these blinders where they are just so determined to give advice and help that they don’t consider whether the person is asking for it. Consider using the words “I’m not looking for help with my own professional development, thank you Fergus. Now about your progress with TPS reports…” Good luck, you can do this.

    Reply
    1. Sloan Kittering

      Haha I have had several older white dudes give me fatherly advice about being a young woman in the professional world. I’m like, dude, this is probably the *one thing* I have demonstrably more experience in than you! Literally any other topic I would agree that you know more about than me, but … what it’s like to be a young woman in the workplace? Really? You can’t even let me win one??

      Reply
  23. Noah

    I kind of don’t think the “why” matters very much here, but since OP and Alison discuss it…

    IMO, “He also was apparently offered the team lead position before it was offered to me, which he turned down because he wanted to focus on individual work” and his arrogance make total sense together. I’d be shocked if this weren’t the explanation for his putative mentoring. Basically, “I’m too important to be bothered to be team lead, but I can make sure she does her job as well as possible.”

    Reply
    1. Sloan Kittering

      Yep. I said above I think OP is burying the lede on that one. It’s a big piece of the puzzle to me; of course he doesn’t respect her authority as much, if he feels like you could have had this job at a word, and was the company’s preferred leader. He should have anticipated how it would feel to report to someone else, when he passed on the opportunity.

      Reply
  24. Subscribing to all comments

    Ha! This situation happened to my sister. Sister had some extra time one day, and saw a new staffer struggling with the workload (volume and concepts), so showed her the ropes/best practices in getting the work done. The next day the staffer came up to sister and tried to assign sister some of her work (plus other work!)

    My sister was three levels higher that the entry-level staffer. (Sister was her great grandboss!) And the staffer had somehow gotten the idea that she outranked my sister, confusing approachability and team-support as reflecting some sort of support position/place in hierarchy.

    It is a KINDNESS to shut this guy down early, directly, and specifically. Make it clear that the 1:1’s are for YOU help develop HIM. You may have use the phrase “Well, as your team lead” every time he says anything that is undermining or one-upping.

    Reply
    1. Sloan Kittering

      To be fair, if the troublesome employee is being influenced in part by the fact that HE was offered the team lead position first, I think just saying “well as your team lead” isn’t as persuasive. He’s thinking, “I could have been team lead if I’d wanted.”

      Reply
      1. subscribe to all comments

        Was he, though? And even so, it is the team lead’s job to help develop staff. team lead has the power to approve development courses, or stretch assignments, or interdepartmental work, and make recommendations.

        Reply
    2. Jo

      Just curious… What did your sister say when the new staffer tried to assign work to her? It makes you wonder WTF she (the new staffer) was thinking, even if she didn’t realise the person she was attempting to hand stuff off to was her great grandboss!

      Reply
      1. subscribe to all comments

        Sister was very surprised, me just said, “No, that’s not appropriate” and walked away. She then had the supervisor remind new staffer of the job responsibilities, and also inform her of who Sister is.

        Reply
  25. Sup Sucka

    Well this was timely. My new direct report likes to tell me in his own words what I’ve said or done. The problem is that it’s usually some odd variant of what I’ve said or done.

    I SAY: I made edits to this to better fit the format and tone of the project.
    HE SAYS: You just took out a few extra words and moved this point to another section. (The just was his)

    I’m RELATIVELY sure that he’s saying this to signal he’s aware of what I’m saying or doing. But, his response is always somewhat left of center and always feels marginally mansplain-y and condescending. (I am a girl, he is a boy)

    Reply
    1. Snark

      Oh, you can shut that RIGHT down. “Yes, because small changes can often improve the flow and tone. Is there a reason you’re second-guessing that?”

      Reply
    2. Sup Sucka

      Yeah, I try to clarify what I’ve actually done when we have these conversation in person. Honestly, if there aren’t any questions or outstanding issues, I let it die when I see it over email, because I’ve noticed it devolves into tedium with me saying something and him repeating it back to me slightly wrong and me correcting him and him telling me he understands the correction and why. It’s A LOT OF TALKING and interracting and I just end up feeling more aggravated. He’s new. Its something I’m watching. I’m hoping it’s temporary insecurity. But, I’d be lying if I didn’t say, that it’s highly likely he’s a self-involved, insecure pain in the ass. (I will only have myself to blame as I was involved in the hiring process)

      Reply
      1. kitryan

        I get a bit of this too. My coworker generally defers to me and when we go over something he will paraphrase the instructions but not 100% accurately and one if the issues with his work is accuracy/attention to detail, so I will say, ‘no, you only need to send questions 1 thru 10 of the form when you are sending the notification email. When you are sending the request email, you need to include up through question 15’ or whatever and he’ll say oh, I meant only for the notification email, of course!- but he didn’t say that and judging from past behavior, he may not have *realized* that, so it’s constant back and forth to a ridiculous level to make sure he actually understands since his paraphrases/clarifications are not clear.

        Reply
  26. Social

    OMG THIS HAPPENED TO ME!

    I’m a VP overseeing about 8 staff. One of them had long been a pain to deal with, but mostly just because he was the least self-aware person many of us had ever known.

    One day he approached me, closed my door, and basically said “I learned a lot from this book and I think you would learn a lot from it too. Plus, it will help you better communicate with me.” Then handed me a gift-wrapped book.

    Guys. I WAS HIS BOSS AND HE WAS TRYING TO SCHOOL ME ON HOW TO BETTER DEAL WITH HIM.

    I refused to accept the gift, told him it was inappropriate, etc etc etc. A few months later I was finally able to fire him. (My boss couldn’t stand him either — difficult to work with, plus just plain not good at his job.)

    It’s a story I treasure. If only we all had the self-confidence of a mediocre white man…

    Reply
  27. Guacamole Bob

    OP, I just wanted to chime in to say that I hope you don’t beat yourself up too much about kinda getting off on the wrong foot with this guy. I’ve been in the work world a lot longer than you (I’m late 30’s), and I still get caught off-guard by this kind of arrogance and sexism. I recently ended up taking notes in a meeting I totally shouldn’t have, when the guy who should have been doing it was sitting next to me, because I just didn’t recognize the inappropriateness of the request in the moment (for Reasons that are boring and convoluted to explain here) and would have been a bit flustered about pushing back even if I had. It got dealt with afterwards and won’t be repeated, but I’ve been kicking myself for getting caught in one of the most classically sexist traps in the corporate world (I’m female, despite the username).

    I’d have been caught off guard by this guy, too. Now that you’ve had a chance to give it some thought you’ll be better able to deal with it, but being generally professional and agreeable in a new situation and then getting to a point of “wait, what the heck just happened?” happens to lots of us.

    Reply
      1. MassMatt

        I think your reaction was very understandable, and don’t beat yourself up about it, but I would definitely prepare for your next meeting and future interactions with him. Unfortunately he left that first meeting under the impression that he was mentoring you, and that you liked it. It is harder to change an established dynamic than create a new one, but the sooner you do so the easier it will be. Prepare an agenda, don’t use softening or undermining language, and act confident. If he says something odd or inappropriate take time to think before reflexively saying something that makes him think it’s OK when it isn’t just to be polite.

        I second the suggestion to try Captain Awkward for scripts and ideas for how to deal with this. Good luck, OP, and I hope you will give us an update!

        Reply
  28. Moth

    I agree as well. When reading through the letter, that was the first thing that came to my mind. He had offered to do a 1-on-1 to help give feedback and advice to her and she agreed. I kept reading, expecting the OP to have corrected his original assumption, but it doesn’t appear to have happened yet. That’s not to say these other factors aren’t all at play as well and that there is arrogance and man-splaining involved. But before taking Alison’s advice, I think it would be helpful to just lay out bluntly that while his original plan was to help mentor her, these 1-on-1’s need to flip focus now. Likely she will still have to use the other techniques, but at least then the OP will have made it clear that these are changing and why.

    Reply
    1. Moth

      Oops, my computer page froze and when it reloaded, I didn’t notice that the comment was moved from a reply to Blue’s comment above into it’s own thread.

      Reply
  29. Indie

    Ugh, the prestigious schools of the world, particularly ye olde boys schools actually teach this kind of ‘gumption’. You know the kind that says in job interviews “Why do I want this job? Well I see the CEO position is already taken, ho ho ho.” My friend calls it ‘public school boy confidence’ and it is shallow, formulaic, thoughtless and easily punctured.

    Honestly you’d be doing him a favour if you mentor him out of it. He’s already developing a reputation for arrogance. Keep a careful surveillance for a while to get some hard examples. Then I’d wait for more unsolicited advice and go with something like: “Oh I am sure that suggestion is made with the best interests of the team in mind. However I’m not sure it puts you personally in the best light. I am noticing a pattern where you’re not really focusing on your own role and you are giving a lot of unsolicited advice to others. Even good advice turns bad when it is unsolicited. I’d like you to model best practice and your excellent experience to the team by focusing on (your actual job) and wait for people to come to you, or bring it up as an issue before making that kind of suggestion. What do you think?”

    Any further ‘mentoring’ is then easily shot down with “Bob we talked specifically about this..”

    Reply
  30. SigneL

    A few thoughts: if he says something, give yourself a second – you don’t have to respond immediately. And if he says something really weird, it’s OK to be taken aback and not quite know how to respond. Sometimes, “let me think about that” is a good thing to say.

    I’m also a big fan of a hard stare, if needed. If he says something weird, give him The Look and let his words hand there. (Sometimes, you can even say, ” Did you just say/suggest….whatever?” and let him try to explain. This lets him explain and possibly dig the hole deeper, or he will hear how he sounds and backtrack) But I’ve used a hard stare a few times – kind of like the “phaser on stun,” but it comes from your eyes.

    Reply
  31. always in email jail

    A lot of funny things have happened on this blog, but I’ve never laughed out loud until this: “I think actually said “This was great!” at the end of the meeting — I have no idea why; it just came out.”
    That just tickled me. I can TOTALLY see myself doing that and then sitting alone in my office afterwards like WHY DID I DO THAT? HOW DID THAT COME OUT OF MY MOUTH?

    Reply
  32. AnyoneAnywhere

    From OP’s comments above, I wonder if we are all judging this guy too harshly- it’s a rotating position without a pay raise, and one that he turned down- presumably because the hassle with no pay wasn’t worth it to him. Maybe he is being genuine in wanting to help, since it’s her first time leading.

    Reply

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