Get Active in Our Amazing Community of Over 457,000 Peers!

Schedule mock interviews on the Meeting Board, join the latest community discussions in our Consulting Q&A and find like-minded Case Partners to connect and practice with!

Dealing with difficult manager

entry level manager stress
Edited on May 31, 2024
5 Answers
104 Views
Anonymous A asked on May 28, 2024

Hi everyone,

I hope you're well. I am writing to you today to seek your valuable advice on a matter that has been causing me significant stress at my current consulting job. I joined a Tier 2 in October last year (post MBA role).

I have finished three short international projects (all with positive reviews), and I'm currently staffed on a BD in my local country. It is enough recognized in the analyst circles that the local senior management team is somewhat toxic (as opposed to managers of other countries where we are also staffed). This BD only started Monday this week, and I am already finding it extremely difficult to continue working with this manager.

  • The manager does not acknowledge when I raise a flag about highly ambitious timelines. He sets half-day/daily expectations of delivery, which are very high. When I convey to him of them being too ambitious, he dismisses saying that he wouldn't have set it if they weren't doable.
  • He drops all delivery responsiblity on my shoulders. For example, he asks me (in a negative sense) of what is my plan to deliver today and how do I plan to achieve it. If timelines are lagging due to lack of capacity, I stand answerable to him. I have to constantly worry about completing the entire deliverable in the BD timeline. He often tests my understanding by asking me to explain what I learnt.
  • He feeds huge amounts of information in a single meeting (ex. entire document worth of content). I am expected to retain all of it - as on a future date, he says I have conveyed this to you earlier and so you could prepare these x slides in no time.

I have almost broke down multiple times in the 1.5 days I have worked with him. I started feeling unwell on Tuesday i.e. the second day and took sick time off. I think he isn't particularly happy with me, due to our friction during day to day delivery, as well as my taking time off midway. A lot of our staffing happens internationally so I am not highly concerned about maintaing a good reputation with him. At the same time, I have a six month probation period, though I havent received a confirmation when eight months are about to complete. I am concerned if he can influence the process (also as he is a local manager) and have me exit. I am also concerned of how will I deal with him once I am back after my sick leave, in case I am still staffed with him.

I would greatly appreciate your guidance on how to cope with this situation. I trust your insights will help me make the best decision for my career and well-being.

 Thank you for your time and support.

(edited)

Overview of answers

Upvotes
  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best answer
Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 29, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Auch.

This sounds very familiar. 

Honestly, there is lots that I would want to say but a Q&A message wouldn't do it justice. 

Practically, you can do two things

1. Do something about it

I would need to understand the situation better. 

But outside in, it would make sense to align with him upfront on the deliverable and the time that you have at your disposal. Then flag to him what you think is realistic to do and problem-solve whether you could find additional support elsewhere. 

You can also speak with the staffers and ask to be put on a different BD.

In the meantime, try to find some project to go on. 

2. Bide your time. 

Realistically, you'll always come across these sort of profiles. I've also met a few of them. Try to have pity for them (I know it's hard) because they were probably severely abused in a similar way by other managers and are super insecure, which is why they're projecting this on you. 

If you play the long-term game, this manager doesn't matter. Even if you somehow found the magical way of dealing with him, you're likely to keep coming across people like that and there's no way of always dodging them. 

And yes, if your probation was 6 months and you're closing in on your 8th, it means that your probation is done. It's also impossible for a single manager to get you fired. And even if you were to get fired, it still takes at least half a year and your first put under close monitoring which means that you can turn the situation around and there's lots that you can do (I was close to issues myself in my first year). 

Here are two articles that you might also find useful:

Hope you feel better soon!
Cristian

Was this answer helpful?
Pedro
Expert
updated an answer on May 31, 2024
Bain | Roland Berger | EY-Parthenon | Mentoring Approach | 30% off first 10 sessions in May| Market Sizing | DARDEN MBA

The bad thing about consulting is that once in a while you'll have to deal with these situations.

The good thing is that it is always temporary, and soon enough you will be moving into another project.

Now, some bad news. It's the local office that makes decisions over your future. You may have great performance outside, but if in your office you don't have great reputation, that will hurt you more than the opposite.

Consulting is a high pressure job. Sometimes you just have pressure because you have a super-tight deadline. It's important that you are able to deal with this (you build this “skill” over time, by the way, but you have to be positive about this). I am not saying that you have to be ok with dealing with any kind of abuse or not being respected, not at all, just stating that you have to be open to the idea of dealing with significant pressure and sometimes unrealistic deadlines.

Usually what I find useful in these situations is… turning the table. Asking for coaching from your manager and having him/her explain how to actually execute something within that time frame - and flagging when you are not being able to execute as expected. 

On top of this, just have open and clear communication. You should have a frank and open conversation with your manager. Other than that, just give your best and work really hard.

(edited)

Was this answer helpful?
Florian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 30, 2024
1300 5-star reviews across platforms | 500+ offers | Highest-rated case book on Amazon | Uni lecturer in US, Asia, EU

Hi there,

Sorry to hear that. Sounds like a tough one…

I think perspective is what matters a lot here.

It is just one person in a greater whole that you are forced to work with for a short amount of time in your life. If working with someone like this gives you physical symptoms of illness already after just one day I would think about ways to deal with adversity with a more healthy perspective.

There might be similar situations in the future and you need to find ways to build resilience and not to have it impact you in such a severe way.

In the end, while the situation is likely very unpleasant, how you deal with it has a much bigger impact on your well-being and how you perceive it going through.

What can you do besides changing your perspective?

Now this part is different for everyone but I believe aiming for an open and honest conversation could be very helpful. Discuss your impression of his management style with him directly. Keep it professional by focusing on your impression, don't criticize the person but provide feedback on the actions and how they impact your work.

If that does not work, it's back to square one and push through it. It's just one guy you'll never see again after this project and you are overthinking the impact one person can have on your career trajectory/life.

Reach out for more tailored advice! :-)

All the best,

Florian

Was this answer helpful?
Agrim
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 29, 2024
BCG Dubai Project Leader | Learn to think like a Consultant | Free personalised prep plan | 6+ years in Consulting

Sounds like its time for a chat. Let me know - we can connect and discuss your issues with more specific/personal details.

Was this answer helpful?
Alberto
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 29, 2024
Ex-McKinsey Associate Partner | +15 years in consulting | +200 McKinsey 1st & 2nd round interviews

Hi there,

Sorry to hear you are going through such an stressful situation. I would like to hear more about the context and help you find a solution. Send me a private message so we can talk.

Best,

Alberto

Was this answer helpful?
Cristian gave the best answer

Cristian

Content Creator
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach
709
Meetings
32,244
Q&A Upvotes
135
Awards
5.0
221 Reviews
How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or fellow student?
0 = Not likely
10 = Very likely
You are a true consultant! Thank you for consulting us on how to make PrepLounge even better!
^