I once reported to someone who had limited experience and qualifications for the role they were in. This caused a number of issues, as you might imagine. In one example, I was asked to implement a brand new security program, from soup to nuts, as well as mentor two junior team members through the process. Since it was early in the relationship with this manager, the degree to which they lacked experience & knowledge in the security field was not quite apparent yet.
Shortly after beginning to invest time into creating this program, from scratch, all the while training & coaching two junior employees through the process, I was called into a surprise meeting where I was chewed out for not having completed the program’s implementation already. The fact is that implementing a full security program, especially in an environment where it has not existed before, takes time, which this manager just did not grasp. And there was no willingness to take a step back & discuss what implementing a program like this required, reset expectations, or anything of the sort. At that point, attempts to explain the time & effort required – not to mention the added burden & time drain of trying to mentor two others at the same time – fell on deaf ears.
The bottom line is that there was a significant disconnect between this manager’s understanding & expectations, and the reality & enormity of creating & implementing such a program.
There were a number of lessons learned from this. One good one is that clarifying expectations to begin with can help avoid misunderstandings. Given the role this person was occupying, I made the assumption that they were aware of the enormity of what they were asking. As it turned out, this was not the case. In hindsight it would have been better, even though I thought they understood, to clearly go over the goals & what it would take to reach them, in the beginning; establish deliverables, timelines, and so on. Setting proper expectations up front, even if it includes education of someone placed higher in the organization, helps everyone.