What's your problem?

I've been transferred to a different department and although my role remains unaltered, I have a new manager. Yet my old manager (to whom my new manager reports) behaves as though I'm still directly answerable to her.

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

My new manager has failed to assert herself, and I'm left feeling like piggy in the middle. I'm working on a project that they both have strong and very different views on. How should I sort this out?

A: This is deeply unfair on you, but I think I can see why it is happening. Your old manager has your new manager reporting to her, so she probably feels that anyone working for your new manager is in a sense still under her own direct authority. She honestly may not realise that she's putting you in an impossible position.

You need to speak to one of them. Your new manager sounds a bit short on self-confidence and almost certainly wouldn't know what to do with your predicament if you confronted her with it. So I suggest you speak to your old manager, off the record, and invite her to see things through your eyes.

There's no need to belittle your new manager, even by inference. And make it clear that your main concern is not yourself but the health of the project: two strong and conflicting opinions are cancelling each other out with unfortunate professional consequences.

I've no idea what action she will choose to take but she'd have to be seriously irresponsible to ignore such a thoughtful warning.

- Jeremy Bullmore has been creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London and a non-executive director of both the Guardian Media Group and WPP. Address your problems to Jeremy Bullmore at: editorial@mtmagazine.co.uk. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.

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