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Supervisor taking credit for your work---solutions?  

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DX
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August 11, 2019 10:04 pm  

Hi,

You have been given advice from those well experienced and expertise in the formalities of networking and navigating organizations professionally.   Up to you to take it or not. I would hope the readers of this forum understand the rules of engagement when communicating  upwards and do so in a manner where they are beyond reproach, first and foremost. 

I, PG and Dick have given you the advise we feel is the best for what you described.  I recommend you go back and re-read.

best of luck and wishing you the best outcomes for whatever next step you take.

DX

 

 

 


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PG
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August 12, 2019 8:32 am  

Of course it is possible to answer emails from people in other organizations or higher up in your own organization without cc to your boss. Some questions that you can ask yourself that might be helpful is

Would my boss want me to answer this question/take this meeting/respond to this e-mail?

Would he/she want to discuss before I answer, be informed about my answer ie cc or is it something that he/she would think completely falls within my responsibilities?

What the client wants isnt relevant. You work for your boss and bypassing your boss creates a bad situation mainly for yourself (may cause you to loose your job with a bad reference or worse depending on the information you give out) and is potentially bad also for the client. 

 

Of course there can be exceptions but the only ones I can see is for communication within the company. If your boss is doing something that is for example illegal or clearly directly bad for the company you have the responsibility to bring it up with someone one step higher up in the company.


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DX
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August 12, 2019 12:31 pm  
Posted by: PG

Of course it is possible to answer emails from people in other organizations or higher up in your own organization without cc to your boss. Some questions that you can ask yourself that might be helpful is

Would my boss want me to answer this question/take this meeting/respond to this e-mail?

Would he/she want to discuss before I answer, be informed about my answer ie cc or is it something that he/she would think completely falls within my responsibilities?

What the client wants isnt relevant. You work for your boss and bypassing your boss creates a bad situation mainly for yourself (may cause you to loose your job with a bad reference or worse depending on the information you give out) and is potentially bad also for the client. 

 

Of course there can be exceptions but the only ones I can see is for communication within the company. If your boss is doing something that is for example illegal or clearly directly bad for the company you have the responsibility to bring it up with someone one step higher up in the company.

Forgot to answer this question, but to add to PG, yes in the daily conduct of business you can communicate to your supversiors boss or other higher-ups in other functions without your boss in cc' when you are deeply involved in a project and that person is also involved.

One example is if you're a Taskforce or Workstream or Program lead, and you need that person to deliver a piece of that project or ensure resources are there for you, and you have thier agreement that they are a part of your team, or a sponsor of your team, with a defined role and responsiblity the ok.  And you've aligned with you boss that you need them to deliver XY and Z.   In that case, your relationship is a project based relationship and you're "directing" or "managing" them, despite the title or hiarachy difference. 

For example in my current role (i'm Director level), I've driving a Task where I need our Disease Area head of R&D (a SVP) to deliver for me to to my Task-force, he's a notch above my boss. That means we do have many emails and phone calls and SMS where the boss is not in cc, however, my boss is fully aware and informed of our project, what I'm owed, and how things are progressing by simple forwards/FYIs or periodic update calls -  boss is aligned, informed, and consulted as appropriate, nt need to go behind his back, I'm the Task Owner, I'm responsble and that SVP by my defined roles and resposiblity part of my project team and thus works with me collaboratively, as a peer, and "lowers" himself to a active and participating member of my team....under my lead.  That is, he respects my leadership even though i'm a few rungs below him.  Get it?   This is how we work alot in industry, we do work beyond title and function.

So even in that senario where I'm managing upwards via havng a much higher level person work with me directly,  boss is alwasy informed.  And if I have an issue (and I have) then I can call my boss up  and he can take action to get what I need or solve an issue. In other words, i have a what's called, a route of escalation.  My boss quite high himself, batting for me.  See how it works? Chain of command in opposite, working aligned, and agreed.  That's an example.  Not going being my bosses back. 

To PG's point, they know what the need to know, I'm empowered to take that decision, and I levarage that indepedence and accoutablity I have been charged with carrying prudence and care.   I don't forward or discuss every contact with that SVP, that's stupid. But I do have judgement and that judgement is fundamental. That's where the trust comes and my boss trusts me to raise when necessary - he has no interest in my flooding his email with minor details and junk, he gets plenty of that from others. ...well hell..so do I.  And why i've earned the indepedance and empowerment I have. 

Hope that also helps. Keep your boss informed.  At one company I worked with, we can one saying, "know who your boss is".  I think that applies well.

Best,

Dx

 


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Colleague 45751
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Posts: 15
August 12, 2019 10:42 pm  

Thanks DX. Yesterday was a break through moment. I had a small party with close friends (who have my back); after giving away some bottles of free wine; they decided to tackle my problem. Plus, they have read the forum's comments. They are all Rotarians and quite well successful in their professions. It is clear to all of them that my supervisor is taking credit for my efforts and trying to hind me from the principals; no other explanation for his behavior. They all agree that I am naïve about this happening in the working world and caution me in preceding. The reason they think for my supervisor's behavior is that they feel he is threatened and is jealous of my skills and expertise since he lacks the formal training in the science; fears that you might take work from him; or that he might be cut out of the deal if you talk with the principals. They are mixed on how to resolve the problem. The only 1 out of 5 agree with the client analogy; the majority counter argument is that in this situation the supervisor works for the client not another consulting firm. That analogy would apply if my boss and I worked for Boston Group and our client was the VC firm. Plus, the client in this case is paying my salary (albeit through my supervisor's LLC) but he works for the VC firm and accounts to the principals. Thus, indirectly I work for the VC firm and their best interests; not my supervisor. They all agree with the forum that this could be misconstrued as going above his head and that I should proceed with caution but with the upmost praise for my boss. One trusted colleague who works as a director for an ad agency and knows my boss (plus his shortcomings) says that he created this problem and is probably not going (since he tried to hide my hiring from the principals) to change. The only way to effect change is and get payed going forward is to talk with the principals. Everyone's hope is that the principals will see that I am trying to help them and the firm; not trying to upset anyone.  

The best business advice I have ever heard and that can be applied to any business or personal conflict is the Rotarian four way test:

 Is it the truth?
Is it fair to all concerned?
Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Four-Way_Test

I strongly believe in this thinking. Wished others thought this way. 

This post was modified 1 week ago by Colleague 45751

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PG
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August 13, 2019 6:42 am  

So you found someone who after drinking some wine said what you wanted to hear. If you include your boss as one of the people those Rotarian questions concern the answer to at least most of them will be no.

The argument that you are in fact being payed by the client doesnt hold up. They are paying your boss who then pays you. The scenario is the same as in the consultant examples mentioned above or for anyone to claim that they work for customers that their company has since they buy products that the company manufactured and the company then pay them. This is going to be my last post in this thread since nothing we say will ever change anything.


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DX
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August 13, 2019 8:19 am  

To PGs point, nearly laughable from my view, and how bad practice and views can perpetuate.  I would hope other reading this thread take the advice of PG, me and Dick as the best approach.   No supervisor I have worked with has ever been threaten by me - and i mean REAL supervisor, not contracted out "manager". And I would hate to think anyone reading this forum thinks is normal by any sense to have supevisors in a bona-fide supervisor/employee relationship that bosses have fear of the "so called" amazing skills of thier subordinates.  

Rather it has been the opposite, where my supervisors have applauded my skills and pushed me forweard ahead of them to get the visiablity and credit for "our" work.  Cause at the end the day my work is his/her work - and even though I'm empowered and work independantly across many fronts, we are together on accountablity for our agreed objectives (my objectives are their objectives).  No one is jealous. If anything, inspired. They'll take you up if they are inpired and admire you.

My last post on this thread as it now goes no where. Should another poster have a queston regarding what is read here in relation to their science careers, I will respond. 

Dx


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Colleague 45751
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Posts: 15
August 14, 2019 7:07 pm  
Posted by: Dick Woodward

Let's get one thing clear. You are a consultant to the person that you call your supervisor - call him X. You work for X because X is the person paying you. X apparently has a consulting relationship with the VC group. While I understand your frustration, you are being retained by X, not the VC group. If X wants to present your work as his own, all I can say is welcome to the wonderful world of consulting. I have written grants, promotional material and other documents for my clients - my name appeared nowhere on those documents.

Think of it this way - if you worked for, say, McKinsey, you and likely a host of other junior consultants would work on a project which would be submitted to the client by the senior consultant that manages the project. Your name might not appear anywhere on the project report. In this case, you are working for McKinsey, not the client;it would be unethical - and likely career suicide - for you to go directly to the client without going through your supervisor.

Frankly, if you were consulting for me and I was the contact with the client (that I had brought on through my connections) and I found that you were communicating with the client without keeping me in the loop (which you say that you did - no CC to X) I would fire you immediately. There are a number of other people (I can name several that I know personally) who can do what you do; I would merely have one of them replace you.

As far as having no contract, most consultants work with at least a letter of engagement that lays out things such as payment, responsibilities, etc.; it usually includes some sort of confidentiality agreement as well, and has a statement that everything that you do is a work for hire that belongs to your client (in this case, X). If you did not get something of the sort, it is "your bad" as they say! However, since consultants are hired and fired at the will of the client, whatever kind of agreement you have will not constitute job security - you serve at the client's pleasure.

Dick

Guys, I thought about this again. Maybe I was not clear here. Let's use Dick's example. My supervisor works both for the consulting firm and the client. The consulting firm is my supervisor's own company (Big Kahuna or K)  through which he is paying me. So, consider me an employee of his company, K, for argument sake. He is also one of the three principals at the VC firm or client (Little Mc Kinsey or Lm). He is hiring me to evaluate projects at Lm but supposedly paying me through his own company K. However, one of the principals at Lm found this was not true and he, my supervisor, was getting Lm or client to pay for my expenses (or invoices) by presenting these expenses (my salary) as his own expenses to Lm where he works. Further, he is selectively presenting my analysis to his other principals at Lm without attributing any credit to it. In one case, certain data was not present to the other principles. This led to the other investors investing in a problematic company of 1-2M. However, my analysis presented serious problems about the patents with the conclusion not to invest unless the patent issues were worked out and several questions are investigated. But they (other two principals at Lm or client) invested in the company w/o hearing my analysis. Now that all the principals know about my analysis, they agree with me that there is a problem. The other principals at Lm assumed that my supervisor was doing this work and was unaware that my supervisor hired someone (me) to do this and they (Lm) were paying for it out of K's (the firm or client's or their own) budget. Essentially, I am doing my boss's job for him and he is secretly billing the client for my work (of which the client is unaware of my hire). Think the client Lm and the other principals at the firm might blame me for this bad investment. Maybe.

This is where the jealousy or feelings of being threaten by my expertise fits into this situation. Obviously, by now, it is clear that he hired me to because he did not have the scientific training to do part of his job. If his supervisors knew that he couldn't do this and someone is better suited to do this. They might want to hire this guy and hire the guy (me) to do this scientific vetting. Or as my friend said his supervisors might cut him out of his current jib and hire you instead. This explains why he has hide me from his supervisors and not giving proper credit; because he doesn't you to talk with his supervisors. DX, this is real and happens (see the articles): 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2018/01/09/ten-signs-your-coworkers-are-jealous-of-you/#332f1a8e691e

h https://rightasrain.uwmedicine.org/life/work/how-deal-workplace-jealousy

https://theolsongroup.com/how-to-deal-with-envy-in-the-workplace/

https://woman.thenest.com/characteristics-workplace-jealousy-12364.html

https://hbr.org/2010/04/envy-at-work

 

In the end, doing the right thing is going to talk with the other principals and clear the air because it is in everyone's best interest, especially the interest of the firm or client Lm; not the career ambitions of my boss. Especially, since this involves a considerable amount of money which is a at stake (due partially to a problem that your supervisor created and information he failed to relay to the client), I can strongly argument that I have a fiduciary argument to help the client. As my friend said to me, think the principal possibly cares about this slight of going above my supervisor's head (if agrees with that assessment), if I can help him save a lot of money that he might lose because of a problem that boss might have created.

PS: I have already talked with the two principals and VC's firm attorney about this problem. He agrees with me and he relayed  the message to them that I just want to help. I know that this attorney as friends before I meet my supervisor and I work with him on many volunteer projects. It worked out as mere coincidence and through chit chat that we realized that I worked for his main client. To build trust with the two principals, I got this attorney to draft a letter of non-disclosure  saying that I could not disclose any non-public information on these deals (since my supervisor did not get me to sign one).       

 

  

This post was modified 6 days ago by Colleague 45751

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PG
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Posts: 395
August 14, 2019 9:05 pm  

The information that your boss sits on at least two chairs which causes all kinds of ethical and potentially legal problems makes the suggestion to just walk away seem even better.

Bypassing your boss is bad and may cause problems.

If your information about your boss is correct that may also cause problems not only for him but for others as well. Even if you are doing everything right (and I an not saying that you are) you may still get caught up on the wrong side. I have seen it happen before.

 

The situation seem like a mess and I dont see a way out that doesnt make you do things that a lot if people would consider bad. My advice us to walk away.

 

 


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