There’s a new manager in my group and he’s behaving like a douche. He sits right next to me, yet insists on sending inappropriate emails (asking for status of my projects, suggesting I do extra research to provide background to the team for upcoming meetings, etc.) and cc’ing the CEO, who is located in another city. I’m concerned that he’s affecting my reputation. What can I do to get him to stop? P.B., New York, NY
This is the time to stay focused on your strategy so that you don’t get sucked into his game playing. He’s not your manager even though he’s behaving as if he is and given he’s cc’ing your CEO, he’s stirring the pot for some reason. It doesn’t matter why. Don’t give him power over you by creating a nefarious reason. Think of his behavior in a neutral or positive way e.g. “Joe is really trying to show value to the team.”
If you respond specifically to his requests, you’re giving them validity. Instead, put the focus back on him. Try something like, “Our upcoming meeting is exploratory and given our remit, it doesn’t warrant a full backgrounder. If you have the time, I’m sure the team would appreciate any information you can share.” You’re showing that the request is inappropriate and highlighting that he’s got time to stir the pot. Remain relentlessly positive when responding to him and try not to let his behavior get your goat.
People’s insecurities drive them to all kinds of inappropriate behaviors. It’s their problem, not yours. Stay focused on why you’re doing what you’re doing, manage perceptions so that his behavior is highlighted in an appropriate way, and when you do think about him, try to be charitable so it doesn’t drain your energy.