The job is 'IT manager,' but in title only

A newly hired IT pro has one best option after discovering the boss doesn't trust or give responsibility: Get out

Have you ever been hired for your IT experience, but the boss didn't seem to trust you? It's not a good situation to be in. Luckily, when it happened to me, I read the warning signs and got out before it grew unbearable.

Back then, I was the IT manager at a family-owned business (no, not related to me). When I interviewed, the hiring personnel told me they were looking for a person with my extensive IT background. They said I was a good fit. It was a kind of business that intrigued me, and it sounded like I'd have the chance take on interesting tasks, so I accepted the offer.

[ More about the IT job on InfoWorld: "11 signs your IT project is doomed." | Get your weekly dose of workplace shenanigans by following Off the Record on Twitter and subscribing to the Off the Record newsletter. ]

I was hired as the only IT person for the company, which had more than 500 employees. But out of those 500-plus employees, only around 45 people used computers on a daily basis. Many didn't need a computer at all -- think service-oriented jobs. Basically, despite the headcount, it was a network with fewer than 65 nodes, including servers.

Danger ahead!

On my first week, I found out the president of the company who I reported to, "Jim," was the former IT person. I dug a little deeper and found out Jim had a computer science background and had managed all the IT since the company started with a handful of employees a few years before. Who knew what kind of working relationship this would turn out to be?

Jim and I discussed his expectations of me. He told me to be proactive, which I strive for anyway, and to think about all the processes that can be automated or made easier with technology.

That said, I spent the next couple of weeks talking to the various business unit managers. I asked them about the basics, like their department workflows, how well things were working, and what needed improving. After sorting through my notes, I identified a couple of key areas that could make use of automation for the best ROI. I did some rough designs and calculated approximate costs to make it happen. After I was done with the proposal, I forwarded it to Jim.

He replied that he thought my ideas were good, but would get back to me regarding my proposal. A week later I hadn't heard from him, so I inquired again. Instead of giving me the go-ahead to execute it -- like I thought he would -- he told me he was going to check with some consultants before proceeding with my plan.

Another week passed, and I did nothing but basic desktop support. I went to his office to ask if there were other projects he wanted me to look into, though I didn't mention the proposal -- I didn't want to seem like I was hounding him. He said I was doing a good job and to keep up the good work. However, he said nothing regarding the proposal.

While in his office, I mentioned that most of the office computers were dated. He said he was aware of that and had the upgrade in the pipeline. I asked him if he wanted me to price out some systems for replacement; he said he would let me know.

I was puzzled. I'd been hired as "IT manager," but so far Jim hadn't given me the freedom to actually accomplish anything other than basic support. It was clear that I was not to make a move without his approval.

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