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I am frustrated trying to work in a team with a manager who is less educated than I am

heart to heart The questioner's philosophy
I'm here to advance myself, others and the world. I've got Muslim background, now interested in New Thought, Chopra work and Buddhism.
The questioner's hopes and aspirations
To develop a healthy and wealthy family, to offer a peaceful life to my parents, to offer the world useful solutions for life.
I studied Applied Mathematics. Last year I applied to a company and they accepted me. I was put in a position that was not appropriate for me (it was hardware-oriented, and I'm software-oriented). I couldn't integrate into auto-didactical point of view of the others - it was only me that was university oriented. I was fired after three months of test work.

I had a long period of down-time. I used some tapes of New Thought and got healed. I finished with the university, and started to work there as an assistant. This is the 5th year of successful teaching, and it's going better and better.

In meanwhile I attended an Academy of Programming in a private company. Of 9 students and the trainer, only another student and I were graduates. I got the practical experience and for 6 months showed extraordinary results in the degree of complexity of the software I could make, passing even the trainer/manager who has an industrial background, knowledge and certifications.

When the school was over, the company offered us working places. I was offered a position lower than others who got certified through cheating ways, not qualitatively. I started to complain and to express my dissatisfaction when at work. I started being more aggressive in expressing my knowledge on solutions. Last week, I was being a bit sarcastic about a solution that the manager himself had decided, which for me and two other developers was incorrect. That made my manager angry and he fired me from the department.

Then I talked to the director of company in a friendly way. He explained to me that I'm a person that doesn't fit into a team. My opinion is that I can be a team-player if the team is at my level of knowledge, acting to fill weaknesses in other fields of the subject.

In childhood I was a reader, and liked studying rather than being a social person. I liked to play chess, and when my friends started to become aggressive in adolescence, I separated from them and socialized with peaceful people. My question is how can I be sociable and a team player?

Wallace's reply
Wallace Your question and our accompanying online discussion, raises the issue of being aware of who is responsible for what. I understand your frustration with the manager who decided on a solution that you knew was incorrect. However in life and on a team we have to acknowledge who is responsible for making the final decision about which solution is accepted. If it is the manager's responsibility then it is a mistake to become sarcastic if he chooses differently from us - even if we know he is in error. If we have a manager we must allow him the space to manage and to make key decisions. We can offer our point of view but must not override our manager's role as decision maker.

Some managers are better than others at listening to their staff and learning from them. For some managers, a well educated self-assured young member of staff can appear as threatening to their authority. In circumstances like this it is best to remain cautious. The right approach in such circumstances is to adopt the role of that of a coach or trainer to your manager. You would not tell your manager you were taking this role of course, but that is the best approach. As the manager's coach you use your greater awareness of the problems and possible solutions to ask the manager key questions. An example of a question you could ask is, "Are there any ways in which this solution might be improved?" or "How would this solution work from the customer's point of view?" By these means encourage him to think more deeply and creatively about the team's problems, and prompt him with keys to possible solutions if he is stuck, but all the time leave the choice of path that leads toward a solution and the decision on the solution to the manager himself - not getting upset if he chooses differently from you.

If you feel restricted by such an approach and want more freedom to be involved in decision making then I suggest you change your team, or your job, to a new position where you will either be listened to more fully and where your skills will be appreciated, or to where you yourself will be the decision maker. If you do ever become the decision maker, remember the experience you had with your authoritarian manager and resolve to listen fully to your staff and involve them in decision making. By doing this as a manager you will reduce your authority but gain respect and love - and these are more powerful allies when faced with the responsibility of managing a team, finding solutions and making the best decisions.

Peter Shepherd has selected a range of articles and materials from trans4mind that help with being a content and productive team member. You'll find this at the Quick Coach page for Working successfully in teams.

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