How did they get there?

Just need to gripe a bit and get this off of my chest.
How many people have you run into in the design profession that make you think, “How in the hell did they get that position?” Could be bosses, co-workers, whatever.
Anyways, I have a boss like that and its an extremely frustating situation. Honestly, I try to be open-minded and get his perspective, understand his objectives and reasons behind that and then when I give input, its like “Great idea, but no thanks”. Having a significant amt. of experience in the profession, I think I have some pretty decent ideas and suggestions and this guy is such an over the top ego maniac that he takes nobody else’s input. How in the world did someone like this ever get to be in charge of other people/designers? Makes no sense because isnt Design a collaborative thing? A situation where you get input from everyone and get their unique perspectives and then make a decision based upon that information?
Its a Catch-22 situation. When you are asked for your input and give it, only to be dismissed like your ideas mean nothing, then how or why would you continue to contribute when you know the end result? I have tried and tried to look at this from different angles and discuss with co-workers but they dismiss it as “that is the way he is” and I get the feeling nobody else wants to “rock the boat”. And its not that I think I have all the answers by any means, I just want a environment that is open and willing to share ideas amongst the team. Not sure that will ever happen at this place. And I know it exists, that is the frustating part. My last company was much more open, people had a say and the thoughts of the collective were carefully considered and then decided upon. I get the sense that this guy doesnt like other people’s ideas sometimes because they are not his?
Any merit to that?
Anyone else have similiar situations?

those who can, do; those who cant, teach; those who cant teach, manage…

You know, I have heard the same thing before about those who teach, can’t design. Can’t really speak to that, as I dont know that many teachers at ID programs. Hopefully is or will change, as the young designers really need to learn from an educated professional…so if that is getting to a school that doesn internships or what, do it. I could go on and on, but back to the main topic.

Is it possible to change the perception of some of the older designers/managers that “do things” their way, just because they have been doing it that way all their career? Isnt design about evolution and collaboration to achieve a better result then achieved on your own? Instead of shunning younger/motivated designers, why dont these more established designers/managers embrace the exhuberence of the younger generation and be willing to continually evolve throughout their career? Change isnt bad…change is how we grow. And at least in my experiences, many of the experienced designers I have met dont want to change, they want to keep doing what they are doing and where does that ultimately lead?
My guess, it leads to some place down the road where people that dont change are out of jobs and those that do and embrace it, are going to be the commodity. I hope to be with the later crowd.

Seems like great designers/managers are truly at their best when they understand the power of surrounding themselves with the “best of the best”, this is when true “design” that solves problems takes place. Being in a dictatorship enviornment where changes are generated “top down” is old school thinking that will eventually crumble under its own weight.

So what made you take the job? Is this the guy that hired you?

Promises basically hooked me in…cool products, portfolio and the people seemed to be really a good match. Location didnt hurt either, Chicago is pretty dam cool. There is only so much you can find out in an interview and a few phone calls. Guess that is why so many places in Chicago use freelance help to screen people to avoid this situation. I have myself to blame for part of it, I should have looked harder at the situation but again, in the courting stages of interiviewing its not like these people show their true identity, guess on the flip side you can say the same for canidates as well.

The quick answer to your initial question is that most middle managers aren’t parachuted into their positions based primarily on their people or leadership skills - this is the case in pretty much all organizations today. In other words, they exist not to make you, the underling, feel better but make their superior feel empowered and more secure, incompetent as they both may be. Your employer has an agenda very different from yours and from your description is likely closer to the military than to a football team.

Someone said this on Core a while ago - Dilbert is not fiction, it’s documentary. The more you read The Dilbert Principle and the other (The Peter Principle), the more sense you’ll make of your situation.

Some people spend their entire careers searching and waiting for that perfect employer without ever having understood the balance of power in the job world has some solid pre-sets no matter where you go. Don’t blame yourself for this, you can only taste what you bite on.

Your manager could be that way for a hundred different reasons.

I was going to suggest that you warm up your portfolio, but the first thing you should probably do is talk to your boss about the problem, and if your find reluctance to that, then go up the chain to his boss, etc. Chances are that they know about his attitude but feel that his overall contribution is worth it.

One thing not to do though is give in and stop trying out new ideas with the group. Just have to have a thicker skin with this guy.

And yes, there are people who only give merit to their idea. (and can be impossible to work with. You wouldn’t believe).

Finally, nothing wrong with moving on.

…i had a boss who flat out told me that “his was the only opinion which mattered”…so i went around the jerk and built consensus for my design concepts with marketing, engineering and manufacturing…leaving him and his opinions inconsequental in the end…didn’t make him real happy at first but when he realised that the design department rep was improving, which also made him look good, he got used to it.

You hit the nail on the head with that one. This person is part of a small upper management team and yes, I dont believe they see an issue. After all, they are the one’s running the show, so why would they?
Already tried to talk to this person on several accounts and all it gets me is frustration. Its like “Great idea, keep it up but we are going to do this. Or not at this time, that would be too much to handle”. Half the time I dont even think he is listening, just nodding and mumbling waiting to speak. And it is pointless to go over their head, this person’s boss put them in the management position in the first place and counts on this person for a significant amount of information. The only thing that will come of this situation is that this person will continue to be viewed as invaluable, as all of the work that is done is under their strict direction and nobody else is given the opportunity to show their talent. Its not a good situation as you can tell and there is a lot of ego involved.
Should’nt you be required to go to some listening classes before becoming a manager? It sure would help my dim witted boss.

Is this the guy that hired you?

Does he show respect for others?

They drank with the boss, and you don’t because you’re the douche they talk about at the bar. OH SnAP!

Yes, they do show respect to others but its only to the people that count.
Everyone else gets the same thing, however most are used to it and deal with it.
Bunch of BS.

It sounds to me like you are just a complainer. All people are biased to their own ideas - have you ever stopped to think that maybe all of your ideas and those of your other rejected colleagues may be unreasonable due to contraints other than design like - cost, time, manufacturing, product needs, consumer demand, etc. I see this problem all the time - designers want to push the envelope when it is just not feasible sometimes.

I think that you should get off your high horse and stop to think that maybe, just maybe he has more experience, more intelligence, and a different viewpoint that you. If you still can’t deal with it - BE A MAN. Tell him again - in a serious meeting - that you feel that your ideas are not being heard. Give him the respect of being heard, let him give his viewpoint. AND if after all of that you are still unhappy. LEAVE. If your ideas are so great then you will be hired anywhere - hell just go strart your own firm…

Valid point, I can understand how people could see that as complaining, because it is. All I want is to get some info or advice on how to deal with this situation. And no, I am not inmature enough to think my ideas are all the best one’s, that is completely false. If you read my previous posts, I talk about collaboration, not a dictatorship either by my boss or myself. Collaboration is what I seek but if it is not a shared vision, it really wont go anywhere.
And sure, I have things to work on, I know I am not perfect and never claim to be. That is the whole problem, I know I have want to constantly learn and implement new methods of design however my boss lives in the past. I hope I constantly evole throughout my career and never, ever get the perception that I have reached the top and know it all.

I think you might be changing from being a worker to a boss…maybe you need to lead a team of designer…maybe working for someone else is no more your thing…maybe you need to start your on firm because you have a clear idea on how a team should work together…

good luck…

Can’t someone be both? Seems plausible enough

New question-

Does your boss directly take your ideas as his own. And what I mean by that is not taking it as it came from his team, but himself?

What kind of language does he use?

Yes, they sure do take credit for other people’s ideas. Honestly, I wouldnt really care about that if the enviornment didnt support that type of behavior, but it does and as a result it makes it look like the underlings do nothing and that this person is the VALUABLE one.
They also tend to limit the amount of information passed along to the rest of the staff from the client. Obviously this limits our productivity and the amount of plausible ideas we can contribute, as we arent truly informed at the start. Guess what the result is? This person is able to come into the review (with upper mgmt present) and be the rock star. They have all the info, all the ideas (other people’s) and again, this results in the whole cylce starting over because of the “value” they bring to the team. Have tried to ask for more particpation of the staff upfront and was told its not necessary. Also when you ask for more info, its looked upon like you cant do your job correctly and are ill-informed. BS man.