my company has no reporting structure and no training

A reader writes:

I work for a professional services company that currently has no real reporting structure and it’s driving me insane. The company is relatively new and for the first few years, it was about five people who all functioned as one team: my boss, Malcolm; his second-in-command, Wash; and several junior staff working under them.

The company grew very fast and in about two-three years went from five people to 15. Malcolm is still the director, Wash and I are managers, there are three people with the “team lead” title, and then about eight junior staff.

The problem is that Malcolm still treats the company as one whole team. Neither Wash nor I have any direct reports, the team leads don’t have an actual team that they lead, and the junior staff work with a mix of supervisors. For example, Junior A might work with all three team leads on different projects, but Junior B only works with one team lead. Some of the juniors work directly with Wash or myself on a regular basis, and some don’t work with either of us at all.

New projects are assigned by Malcolm to all levels more or less at random, based on either who last said they could take on more work or who Malcolm thinks is best able to handle more work. Wash and I usually get no input, though we don’t know most of the staff well enough to offer an opinion, anyway.

This system makes it impossible to effectively manage any of the staff or provide any coaching, because nobody has a whole picture of the work anybody is doing. It’s so bad that I once had to conduct a performance appraisal for a junior who I had never spoken to. You can imagine how helpful that meeting was for her.

To top it all off, our company has an absolutely horrendous onboarding/training system and new staff get minimal support and even less proper training on how to do the work. “Trial by fire” is an apt phrase to describe it, as the new juniors are given a task, shown the basics of how to use the software we work in, and then pretty much left to figure it out themselves and ask questions if they can’t. I went through a similar “training” when I started and it’s incredibly intimidating and demoralizing to be forced to interrupt a superior multiple times a day with questions.

This has created a situation where I end up doing a lot of team lead or even junior work because I have so many tight deadlines each month that I just don’t have the time to properly train the juniors I do work with so that they can do it instead. I hate this, because I know that I’m failing them as a manager and I would love to sit down and train them properly, but then we’d miss deadlines or I’d have to work a ton of overtime that I just can’t as the mother of a two-year-old.

I’ve tried multiple times to bring all these issues to Malcolm’s attention. I’ve told him that I can’t do my job effectively. I’ve explained why our lack of training/support is causing juniors to work so slowly and with so many errors. I’ve prepared a whole proposal for how a proper reporting structure would benefit the company and make us more efficient, even putting it in terms of improved profit margins to see if tying the changes to the bottom line would have an impact. Malcolm just says things like, “I’d like to do an analysis of the pros and cons” or “there are some interesting ideas here” and then nothing happens. Wash is a peacekeeper in this regard and tries to bolster both sides, saying things like, “I agree with everything you’ve said about improvements but I haven’t really experienced the problems you’re talking about.”

I’ve been trying to change things for months and I’m at my wits’ end. I like the people I work with and the work that I do, but I also feel like I’m constantly failing the junior staff and my output on client deliverables isn’t where I want it to be because I’m so rushed all the time.

Do you have any advice about changes that I could make to improve things for the juniors without a full organizational overhaul? Or maybe an approach to try with my boss that’s different from what I’ve already tried? Or do I just need to cut my losses and walk away?

Cut your losses and walk away.

You’ve already made the case to Malcolm for doing things differently, multiple times. He’s unmoved. Wash says he doesn’t even see the problems you’re talking about, so he’s not going to push for change.

This is the way they want to run their firm.

There actually are a lot of professional services firms that run on something similar to this model, where junior staff are regularly shuffled to different projects and don’t have a clear reporting relationship. Usually, though, there’s still someone assigned to review their work and give feedback, even if that person varies by project, and there’s still someone charged with evaluating their overall performance. In other words, there’s still a structure, even though it can mean that a person’s manager doesn’t have a ton of first-hand exposure to their day-to-day work. It’s a weird model, but it works for a lot of firms. The difference here is that your junior staff don’t seem to have any reporting relationships at all, compounded by the complete lack of training. Although frankly, you could probably get away with the lack of clear reporting structure if you had real training happening. The lack of either is a disaster.

Normally I would say that it’s possible that this is just growing pains. Often when an organization grows very quickly from a small size to something bigger, there’s a period where they’re still trying to use the systems that worked for them at the smaller size, and it can take a while to see and accept that those systems (or, more often, lack of systems) don’t work for them at the larger size. But at some point they generally realize, “Whatever it was that got us here, it’s not sufficient for where we are now” and they start to professionalize and put in systems more suited for the new, larger size. Your organization is just … not doing that.

And it’s not because it hasn’t been pointed out to them. You’ve tried to point it out, repeatedly. They’re not interested in changing the things they need to change.

That’s why it’s time to cut your losses and walk away. Not only is this going to be endlessly frustrating for you — as it’s already become — but it’s likely to hold you back in some pretty significant professional ways. You’re not going to be able to grow and develop when you’re constantly in this crush. You already feel like you can’t do your job effectively. That’s not a good situation to stay in long-term.

Take what you got from working there and find your next step somewhere else.

{ 113 comments… read them below }

  1. Sara without an H*

    Hi, LW — I have to agree with Alison. The problem is Malcolm. Until something happens bad enough to show him that his current set up doesn’t work, he sees no reason to change anything.

    There’s no reason for you to wait around for The Bad Event That Wakes Malcolm Up. You sound like a good manager, and you’re in a position where you can’t really manage well. Clean up your resume, update LinkedIn, if you use it, and alert your network. You’ve learned everything you can from this role, and it’s time to move on.

    1. Artemesia*

      I know several people who have worked in companies like this; invariably there are slackers who fall between the cracks, people who are overworked, and lots of people who always feel they are missing something. And the guys running it, like it that way or are so naive as entrepreneurs that they have no insights or skills to do any better. It isn’t getting better. The company will probably eventually fail or do a lot worse than it could have with leadership.

      Start looking now.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      Malcom is the walking talking version of that “dog floating in space” meme that says “I Have No Idea What I’m Doing.”

      The whole buzzword salad he serves up when told “this is unsustainable” tells me that he may be the idea guy and/or creative force, but has zippo ability or experience in the day to day running of an effective business. If Wash was the business minded one, that might be okay, but he clearly sees his job as making Malcom happy.

      I agree with Allison as well, LW. Malcom isn’t going to change, but the company probably will, for the profoundly worse.

    1. Random Dice*

      Did you choose this screen name specifically for this letter’s Firefly references?

        1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

          Thanks! I was lost for a moment there, but now I really want to watch this show. 8-D

          1. Vio*

            It is a great show, sadly it was Screwed By The Network from the start (episodes aired out of order and in bad timeslots) and soon cancelled. Still managed to get a movie to tie up most of the loose ends though, thanks to overwhelming fan support.

    2. ferrina*

      I have to assume OP is Zoe. But where is Jayne in this? I feel like Jayne might be able to, er, talk some sense?

      Or see if you can arrange a meeting with Malcom and Niska. That should get him out of your hair for a while.

      1. AKchic*

        Jayne would never be able to talk sense into Mal. You need Shepherd Book to talk sense into Mal, and right now, there is no Shepherd Book coming in to do so. Unless Zoe (because I’m assuming this is Zoe) can convince Wash and Mal to hire a contracted Shepherd Book to do that independent analysis and tell Mal what Zoe needs him to hear, Mal (and Wash) is content to do things the way they’ve always been done because he *likes it that way*.

          1. AKchic*

            He looks pretty cunning in his hat, but otherwise, unless he’s being consulted about his area of expertise, he isn’t going to care about anything unless he wants to try to start a one-man take-over when he sees a power vacuum. It will get shut down really quickly because it was poorly executed and nobody wants Jayne to be in charge of anything.

        1. The man they call Jayne*

          This is actually a great comment. Would Malcom be willing to take advice from a consultant? Because if so, Zoe could potentially stay and be the great manager she wants to be.

      2. Annony*

        You think Jayne would push for more structure and hierarchy? Or care if other people get trained? Jayne isn’t a manager. He is a subject matter expert off in his own corner ignoring the chaos.

      3. Vio*

        Nah Jayne’s good for a gun but even using that for a forced negotiation you risk him getting carried away and shooting. It’s River you want on your side, she can get in his head.

        In all seriousness though, if you can’t talk the captain out of crashing the ship then it’s time to head for the escape pods.

    3. Pretty as a Princess*

      Wondering if Mal isn’t secretly in cahoots with Niska in this scenario, NGL.

      1. Kit*

        I strongly doubt this Mal is going to kick someone into the engines before informing the next guy in line “This is all the money Niska gave us!”

    4. Jamjari*

      We all know Zoe is the only one with sense, and she knows deep down she should get herself out of that gorram place.

        1. 2 Cents*

          Nope, she would’ve kicked out the troublemaker. We all knew who really ran that ship lol

      1. AKchic*

        Kaylee would have wanted to, for sure, and so would Wash. Since Wash doesn’t want to push for any changes, I doubt pulling a Crazy Ivan would be a viable solution.

    5. Wow, really?*

      I have found my people! I think we need to leave before Jane starts throwing hand grenades.

      1. AKchic*

        It’s obvious he was told to leave them back on the ship due to poor planning on Mal’s part. It sure would be nice if they had a grenade right about now. And by grenade, I mean a comprehensive training plan and power structure.

        1. Not Zoe*

          A good option would be to train the juniors to do the work and then not work overtime to get it done. Allow the project to be late while the junior people learn to do the things you need them to do. Once customers start complaining Malcolm will be forced to deal with the issue. It might give you some peace of mind while you look for another job.

    6. Agent Diane*

      Zoe does all the hard work so Mal can wing it.

      This particular Zoe needs to head out to the black.

    7. Happily Retired*

      All this ^^^ right here is why I love AAM so much!

      I had a nice, productive, busy weekend all planned out, but it looks like I’ll be bingeing Firefly instead. #sad#happy

    8. Owlette*

      This company needs a Saffron to appear and embezzle so Malcolm realises the importance of oversight of junior staff

    9. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

      Thanks! I was lost for a moment there, but now I really want to watch this show!

      1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        Oops, double post/nesting fail!

        This was meant to be a reply to Seeking Second Childhood. For some reason, it ended up down here instead. When I didn’t see it where it was supposed to be, I posted again, and here we are, lol.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      This whole thread made me happy. And now I want to re-binge Firefly.

      *walks around for the rest of the day humming You can’t take the sky from meeeeee…..*

  2. Random Dice*

    I appreciate Alison being so direct.

    Cosign, leaving is the best option.

    Especially with a toddler at home!

  3. LawDog*

    God bless you for caring so much – and best of luck in the search for a new job. You deserve a great one!

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      OP, you sound like such a caring and skilled employee. You sound like someone I’d want to have as a colleague anytime. Good luck with your job search!

  4. Jane Gloriana Villanueva*

    I’m sorry you have to deal with this, LW. Definitely cut your losses, as Alison says. Or, in the words from the source of your excellent choice of names (I think specifically from the Serenity blooper reel), do as Wash does and hand it off to Malcolm with a “You wanna fly? F****n’ fly!”

  5. Sloanicota*

    You sound like a conscientious person, OP. I would only suggest that (while you’re job searching and need to stay in this role however much longer) I doubt Wash is taking on the emotional pain of the poor junior staff in the way you are. Is there any way you can drop that rope? You have raised it, and the people in a position to make a change don’t care, and that’s more their job than yours. Be kind to the staff of course but don’t let their unhappiness become yours, especially if there’s any chance you’re projecting suffering onto them that maybe they just accept as par for the job.

    1. Artemesia*

      this. A conscientious person in this setting always care more than the people who actually really profit from the operation.

  6. HonorBox*

    Generally, I’m not the first person to jump in and tell someone it is time to find a better job, but I’m going to second the advice here. Get out. Clearly Malcom doesn’t see the negatives like you do, and this is perfect case of “you can’t care more than management (ownership) does.” Getting out is going to be better for you all around since this is clearly weighing on you.

    1. This is Me*

      +1 to this–that’s been my motto for the last 10 years (unfortunately). To owners/founders/CEOs everywhere–I can’t (won’t) care more about your company than you do!

  7. Bookworm*

    Agree with Alison, right from that first sentence. Run. It won’t get better, or at least not without a lot of strain and effort that seems to be lacking, to put it mildly. It’s not worth it.

    I was in a similar situation a year ago (not a new company though, I really do think the owner was just incompetent and unwilling to acknowledge things needed to change). I tried and in fairness I could have been more diplomatic about it. It didn’t work and ended badly for me. Run and I wish you good luck!!

    1. Nemo*

      I’m about to hit the three-month anniversary with my new job at a big university, and this letter could have been written about my office with frighteningly few changes. My manager and my team lead are both talented individuals who are too busy holding up the world by themselves to teach me much of anything, and we even have a strategic plan to implement standardized processes and reporting that will probably happen the day after never because they don’t even have time right now to tell me what I didn’t do right on the draft budget that got flung into my lap as “training.”

    2. jsv*

      Lol, I was just about to make a comment about how this sounds exactly like my university job. No one on my team seems to understand that we need structure and organization to run our department, and the result is that inexperienced student employees do all the work (badly). We’re currently a week out from implementing a project that no one has written out a plan for. I thought about bringing this up with the head of our larger department, but then I realized that things are just as disorganized at his level…

  8. Captain Picard*

    Ugh – I had a “tryout” in a marketing agency that operated just like this. They burned through dozens of “tryouts” annually, refusing to understand that THEY were the problem, not the poor confused and underequipped “tryouts” who got zero training and had no idea how to add value to the agency.

  9. kiki*

    So you probably will need to leave. Folks like Malcolm and Wash tend to underappreciate the importance of systems and procedures. But first, I might try using the word, “scale,” when you talk about the need for training/onboarding/ real team hierarchies. In my experience, a lot of business people get really excited about “scaling” and will be excited to what’s needed in order to “scale” in a way they wouldn’t be excited to do the exact same things to “organize our processes and work more efficiently.”

    1. ferrina*


      They don’t have the business vision to understand why management systems exist. They either are too incompetent to see the dysfunction or they have blinders on. You could waste (more) hours trying to show them the dysfunction, but they will always have another reason why it’s not what it is (things like “everyone is fine!” or “no one has complained to me” or “well that’s just one/two/fourteen persons, everyone else is fine!”) As the great Captain Awkward says- Reasons are for reasonable people. These people do not want to be reasonable, and you can’t make them.

      Don’t waste your breath, and I hope your job search brings you to a new beautiful place!

  10. MourningStar*

    This letter.
    Me: Tell me you’re an architecture and design firm, without telling me you’re an architecture and design firm.

    But seriously OP. I’m sorry for the frustration and challenges. You may have a chance to return to this company years in the future with experience that you’ve gained working elsewhere – but it sounds like you’ve given it a great try, and done very well by those below you and the company. Do well now, by yourself.

    1. RJ*

      Ha! I worked in this industry for years and this was my first thought!

      Best of luck, OP and I hope you wind up at a better firm. Small firms often operate like this, unfortunately, but until they set up a reporting system they will remain as they are – in operational chaos.

    2. Antilles*

      I’m in the engineering industry and it’s pretty common for small firms to have a similar model here too. And honestly, for the ~15 people size firms that OP is talking about, the firm actually is small enough for it to kind of work. Not amazingly, but enough to keep the company functional.

      Which ironically, actually makes it less likely Malcolm is going to do anything, because there’s not going to be any sort of clear wake-up call that pushes him to change.

      1. CryIntoMyKFC*

        I’m in an 800+ person engineering/architectural consulting firm (my branch has around 25 people) that operates this way, and I am similarly going insane. it actually sounds like OP’s firm has MORE structure than we do!!

  11. ArtK*

    Look up “Founder’s Syndrome”. There’s a decent Wikipedia article on it. You’re not there yet, but it’s sounding likely.

    1. This is Me*

      Thank you for sharing this–it was an interesting read. Something I’ve seen time and again, didn’t realize there was a name for it!

  12. NerdyKris*

    LW, I worked in a call center that operated in a similar manner of about 9 team leads and 90 employees. Everyone reported to all nine team leads, and it was chaos. There’s really no way to fix it if management isn’t buying in. You’ll eventually reach the point where leads are giving different instructions, telling employees not to listen to certain leads, and general chaos.

  13. Ainsley Hayes*

    Former firm started as one cohesive team with little structure to a group twice its size with massive amounts of hierarchy and micromanagement – about a 180-degree shift. That wasn’t any better. I’m here on the other side of it to tell you to make the jump to a new job. You’ll be happier and better off for it!

  14. Insert Pun Here*

    I think there is one more thing to try, which is suggesting that the firm hire someone whose ONLY job is training, establishing procedures, etc. Something like an office manager/project manager/cat wrangler/drill sergeant. My dept did this and it was very effective! But if the response to this proposal is anything other than an enthusiastic HECK YEAH, then sadly, yes, it’s time to go.

  15. anon_sighing*

    Alison is right – cut your losses and walk away. The second Malcolm made Wash his second-in-command (or more importantly, the second Zoe nope’d out on her own husband and her old war pal) should have been your sign…

    1. River Song*

      OP/Zoe, take kaylee and river and hit the road, build something amazing! You don’t care, you’re still free, they can’t take the sky from you!

  16. Ama*

    Nthing all the comments here that you probably can’t fix this and should just get out, OP. I’ve spent the last several years at my employer trying to advocate for a structural change that would solve a lot of the problems my department faces but I’ve finally had to accept that the senior staff just don’t see the problem as urgent in the way I do. Metaphorically, I’ve plugged all the holes in the dam with chewing gum and duct tape because it’s all I have, but all senior staff sees is that there’s no water coming through so they don’t care. I’m tired of not making a proper fix so I’m going to get out before the holes start getting bigger again.

  17. MBB*

    Alison is correct; this setup is very common in professional services firms. Junior employees rarely have a single boss.

  18. My cat’s name is Wash*

    Do you work at my former company? Wait, that’s not possible, Former Company collapsed after all of the turnover of junior AND senior employees from nearly this exact scenario… I cut my losses and walked away. Within a year they were absorbed by their sister company.

    I think it started five years before they closed, the Zoe equivalent left and all semblance of order crumbled. Malcom had a Heart of Gold, but he was lost without Zoe.

    I still have nightmares about having to go back to work for Former Company…

  19. NotaGoodCaptain*

    OMG this letter is so timely in my organization…. and I AM MALCOMB! Fast growth, little structure. The difference here is that I KNOW we need change, but I’m not sure how to make it. Combine this with a major cash crunch, and my OP counterpart is leaving as of next week.


    1. Part time lab tech*

      There are a heap of business podcasts and books. Start listening to them on your commute or housework. There is probably a small business organisation in your area – make contact. Look for a mentor. Ask your accountant. Learning possibilities is a good first step. Good Luck!

      1. Nitpicker*

        If you are in the US find the SBA (Small Business Administration). Federal organization and amazingly helpful v

  20. Pine Tree*

    Oh no, I think my organization is heading this way…. we all report to the Executive Director who can handle a lot, but there is TOO MUCH and they are not great at delegating or letting things go. Which results in many of us feeling like we don’t really know what is happening much of the time. All this while the ED is confused and sometimes irritated that we don’t all immediately know what is happening, but it’s because bits get communicated to individuals randomly and somehow we’re supposed to know details about, e.g., what she told Jim or Sue in their 1:1 when we weren’t even in that meeting? Ugh, yeah.

  21. Web of Pies*

    Yep, I left a job like this, though by 75 employees, the bosses still were not willing to listen to the people desperately trying to professionalize things. The CEO probably still thinks that awarding raises whenever she personally feels like it us an acceptable way to operate (spoiler: it meant raises were not ever awarded).

    I tried to help the org change for a long time, but at the end of the day, it’s not your problem to solve. If they want to run the company like a bunch of boneheads, all you can do is warn and protect those around you until you find a way out. Good luck!

  22. Pippa*

    Malcolm and Wash aren’t experiencing what you are experiencing because you are picking up all the small pieces and keeping everything together for them. You are making the 5 person structure work at a 15 person scale at your own mental, emotional, physical, and ultimately career expense. This is the workplace example of a female partner doing more chores at home, including all the emotional labor and home management. I see you in the comic by Emma below. Alison is 100% correct. You will not continue to grow professionally at this firm, and you run the risk of being sidelined into smaller profile projects as you burnout keeping the wheels on the firm.

  23. SereneScientist*

    LW, I’m gonna second the chorus and say walk away. The first organization I ever worked at out of grad school was like this–about a 15 person org with one owner/president, a few VPs, an office manager, and a bunch of junior staff who were nominally assigned to different types of work. While we didn’t quite experience the level of shuffling that you’ve described, the sort of bottlenecking, lack of onboarding, and other issues you’ve described are the same. In fact, about 6 months after I started, the owner suddenly gave me a 15% raise because she realized I had been doing onboarding tasks for the new junior staff who joined after me because literally nobody else would.

    She was also a ridiculous micromanager who refused to delegate any selling work to her VPs, refused to delegate the delegation of project work, and then turned around to complain about her workload. Throughout the two years I worked there, she also talked repeatedly about wanting to grow the company to 100+ employees and that the organization would be employee-owned except no one during my time there was ever given equity in the company. A lot of lip service that never matched her behavior or longterm planning.

    Malcolm sounds very similar to me, and I honestly believe that nothing short of actual catastrophe will convince people like Malcolm and my old boss that they need to change. The effort required from you would be herculean and I’m not sure it’s worth your while. Cut your losses and find an employer that will value how much thought you put into your work.

  24. BellyButton*

    This business is going to fail, it may be a slow death, but it is going to happen. Get out while it still has a decent reputation.

    1. NotaGoodCaptain*

      Helpful. Thanks. I’m the business owner…. I WANT TO change, but don’t know how, logistically and specifically.

      But please kick me when I’m down.

      1. Pine Tree*

        My advice, instead of just saying you don’t know how to fix it, start looking for an Operations Director type person NOW and then listen to them.

  25. Cacophonix*

    While I agree with the advice wholeheartedly, if I loved the job and mission otherwise, I’d first attempt to enact structure within my area of responsibility. That is, invest in a couple of juniors and get them trained up to work with me and announce this to Malcolm giving a heads up where X and Y junior has skills that you are managing and allocating to their workload. Create your own onboarding checklists as you go and this will end up taking less effort going forward. If you’re actively blocked, then cut and run. Just do it, as the shoe company says.

    1. BigLawEx*

      I’ve seen professionals do this. The issues start when a Malcolm wants to work with this employee and pawn the untrained off on you…

  26. Happily Retired*

    OP, you can’t rescue all your juniors – it’s impossible, given the massive level of dysfunction and willful deafness in the company, and it’s just too much to take on – but it’s obvious that you care about them.

    When you begin your last few weeks, and they’re exhibiting deer in the headlights syndrome, wondering what happens next, and what they should do, I hope that you will simply recommend AAM to them, so that they can get some rational real-world feedback on what it’s like to be an employee who is appreciated and supported and allowed to just get their damn work done without endless Drama.

    Best wishes to you in your upcoming new job, because I know that you will blow them away!

  27. BigLawEx*

    I’ve seen large law firms run like this. Once another lawyer I know had to do a performance review for a paralegal they’d never met. It’s not a recipe for mentoring/good management – though it can be a great recipe for making money, especially if you’re one of the partners/principals.

    Because professional services are sometimes like this, ask a lot of questions while you’re interviewing for that next gig.

    1. AKchic*

      That’s because Fox loathes sci-fi westerns. I highlight The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. as another example. And weep.

    2. Gumby*

      One season (more like half of one) and one film but still enough of a cultural touchpoint that there are multiple threads here riffing on it 20+ years later. Sigh.

  28. Llama Llama*

    I work for a company where people could have multiple projects in a year with the supervisor changing. They do have a manager for performance and is long term. I hate the idea of it and only am on long term projects. I have had project people and honestly think they get the shaft when it comes to performance evaluations. I had 8 or so in the past two years and only one has had a direct conversation with me. Its all just what I have said it my (system limited) evaluations.

  29. Caramellow*

    The LW exactly describes my last job where I was employee number 6. It was an aggressive, ambitious start up and everyone was expected to do everything. It was chaos 24/7. We grew to 100 employees in 3 years and it was head honcho Fergus ruling by fiat. People started to quit. Nothing changed until Fergus retired.

    Once he was gone, sane work flow and expectations began to form. But until then? It was hold on to your hat, here’s the hurricane. Nothing could make him listen to reason. I think that’s the situation for the LW. And they have my sympathy.

  30. Researchie*

    Does this seem like a crazy amount of hierarchy to anyone else? Even if it’s working right, how does any company need this tight of a structure? As designed you have 1 person with 2 reports then 2 with 2 or 1 each and team leads with 4. That is a span of control tighter than emergency management or the military: dynamic life or death circumstances, not a normal office

    1. JustaTech*

      That’s not the impression I got of the structure (or lack thereof) at all.
      It’s that Malcom and Wash assign the junior people to any project as it comes up, and there are team leads in charge of *projects* but not *people*, and Wash and the OP also aren’t directly in charge of any of the junior people – as in they don’t get to train or manage the people, they just do the projects.

      If the company had a structure like you describe then a lot of the OP’s concerns wouldn’t exist.

  31. Marvel*

    You can’t care more than they do. Or, put another way: you can’t do their caring for them.

    (…he said, never having successfully internalized this message in his entire career to date. But if I could it would be so much better!)

    1. AnonThisTime*

      Marvel: Yes to all of this, especially the part about giving this advice, but struggling to internalize it myself.

  32. AnonThisTime*

    Oh OP, I feel you. I am currently working through my 2 weeks notice at a place that has issues, while not exactly the same as yours, could also be solved by the boss putting some different systems in place (and actually *managing* people), but he absolutely refuses to do so, and I got tired of trying, so I went and found a different job. I hope you can go find a different job too.

  33. Ann O'Nemity*

    1. Stop caring more than Malcolm does.
    2. Stop killing yourself to cover unrealistic workloads or timelines. Malcolm isn’t going to see a problem if you’re covering for the lack of structure, training, and management.
    3. Create training materials when you can. If you need to train someone or document something, see if you can turn that effort into reusable training materials.
    4. Push back when asked to give performance reviews to junior employees you have never even worked with. What a waste of time. Discuss with Wash and Malcolm who the best person would be for reviews. With only 15 employees, you’re small enough that you can talk through each if needed.

  34. Paul Z*

    I guarantee at least two of the “junior staff” at this place are just hiding in the back and doing no actual work, and taking advantage of the non-reporting structure to make sure that all of the “leaders” think it’s someone else’s job to give them tasks. OP, leave immediately. This will not improve until Malcolm decides he wants it to improve, and you’ve done your due diligence in trying to bring him to that realization.

  35. B Wayne*

    A “Firefly” reference! A first? I’m going to go out and polish up my “Wash is my Co-pilot” license frame.

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