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Talking to Boss's Supervisor About Him

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I work at a small ~20 person manufacturing company (like $10m in revenue) as an engineer in a three-person engineering department (which includes the engineering manager). I know the CEO fairly well, and have had meetings with him every couple weeks basically telling him where I want to go in the company and that I'm interested more in business than engineering, in getting involved in higher level business activities, and ultimately doing what he's doing or equivalent. He was really open to all of this BTW.

We recently let go of 3 people and laid off 2 (one of which was me, for a month, a consequence of being the "new guy") to get down to 20 people. Overall the people let go just didn't really have a good attitude about the organization, and when I came back I noticed a significant change in the overall atmosphere of the company.

I want to help grow this company to $20M in the next 1-2 years, and I think a significant driver of that would be to cut our product prices significantly. Thing is, it's totally doable because our machines haven't been updated in like 20 years, and so a committed engineering team could cut our product cost in half very quickly if they tried.

I'm very dedicated to doing this. The other engineer that works here is someone that doesn't really have any kind of ambition and sort of just does what he's told. The engineering manager - my boss - is really bad at leading the department, absolutely terrible at getting stuff done without a hard deadline handed to him, and loves making excuses about why he doesn't get stuff done. He also loves taking credit for my work (i.e. we get a project, I complete the project and he has almost nothing to do with it, then when we present our conclusions he'll use language like "here's what we did").

IMO he's significantly inhibiting the development of this organization. I told myself that once I had my safety net saved up, that I'd be more vocal about problems in the business and how I think we could best move forward (in a productive way, at least). My boss's supervisor is the CEO.

I don't want to come off as a shit talker, but I really want to communicate to the CEO the need for a dedicated and proactive engineering department on the development of this organization. I'm fairly certain he knows how my boss works already, though, but at the same time if I were him and knew this stuff I would have reorganized the department already.

I'm not really sure what to do in this case. I want to have a hand in growing this organization significantly, and don't think I can do so without voicing this opinion, but don't want to be rude.

Is there anything I can do here? Should I just suck it up and do my job, or should I say something tangentially in a roundabout way? What do?

EDIT: Also, if the answer is to suck it up and shut up, then tips on how to work around this situation would be helpful.
post #2 of 8
Why not just discuss your ideas and excitement in the possibilities of the company with the CEO? Why even mention your supervisor? You going to the CEO behind your supervisor's back will look bad in your boss' eyes even if he knows you're right. You should only do something like that if you feel you are being treated badly.
post #3 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joffrey View Post

Why not just discuss your ideas and excitement in the possibilities of the company with the CEO? Why even mention your supervisor? You going to the CEO behind your supervisor's back will look bad in your boss' eyes even if he knows you're right. You should only do something like that if you feel you are being treated badly.

Agreed. A good idea and a good idea man are valuable in this current economy. I wouldn't sit on it, nor would I use it to belittle my boss. If you have regular meetings with the CEO I would take advantage of the opportunity.
post #4 of 8
If the CEO is socially keen, you can go behind your bosses back here and there to test the waters and see if the CEO will tell your boss.

I would not shit talk. I would just produce good ideas, along with a road map of how to complete them in the same conversation to the CEO. He will see pretty clearly that it's all coming from you. If you get no indications that he see's you as the most valuable opinion in your small department, I would say the pursuit was hopeless and you should move on as if it were a dead end job.
post #5 of 8
You risk finding out exactly who the CEO likes.
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
After I posted this I talked to someone else at the company that I trust, and who has a really good personal relationship with the CEO. She told me that it's not a matter of if but when he gets canned. She went to the CEO to complain about him one time, and he asked her "so who else is on the bandwagon to get rid of him?"

Sounds like the writing's on the wall, and that the only reason he's still here is because we don't have anyone to replace him. So I guess all I have to do is not say anything really significant, work my ass off to learn what he does, and wait.
post #7 of 8

Stay. Do a good job.  Write down all your ideas and then socialize them.  

 

If you are still in the same position a year from now, start looking elsewhere. 

 

Note, if you really want to double the revenues cost cutting may not be enough. Start looking into development of new products, propose a new business model, etc.  If the current company does not take any of this, start your own or find a new employer. 

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by papa kot View Post

Stay. Do a good job.  Write down all your ideas and then socialize them.  

If you are still in the same position a year from now, start looking elsewhere. 

Note, if you really want to double the revenues cost cutting may not be enough. Start looking into development of new products, propose a new business model, etc.  If the current company does not take any of this, start your own or find a new employer. 

This is exactly what I'm doing, though I also talked to my CEO about how tough it is to work with him because he just doesn't want to get stuff done ever and has a really negative attitude. The conversation went well. My boss is mad at me now because I submitted some ideas on unlocking some cash from our inventory (a goal dictated by the board) to the CEO, but I'm not going to keep my mouth shut if I know how to make the company better just because it hurts his feelings.
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