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The company I recently joined is owned and being run by a single person: my boss.

He knew me from earlier in person a little, so he called me one day over the phone, to leave my previous employer and join his company. I met him in person, he told me all about his impressive plans on starting a new business branch which involved custom machine design (let's call it "the prosperity machine"), and made an offer whith such a high salary that I did not even think about not joining. I have 5 years experience in custom machine design, my boss little.

In the beginning everything went fine. I started working directly with him and he mostly talked about his business plans and the prosperity in the future. He gave me little tasks which had nothing to do with my profession, but I thought that's ok, it's just the start.

As time passed by, I found out more and more red flags: high turnover rate among people directly working with him , some mention that he is bipolar, and he also started behaving unusually, telling me that I cost too much for the company and do nothing. - So what would you like me to do then? - He tried giving me some daily little projects, fortunately a little bit more to do with my profession, but every project got stalled near the beginning as he did not agree with my design proposals. Sometimes he even sent me home because he had nothing to give to me for that day.

So one day I told him to start doing the project he hired me for, and design the "prosperity machine".

He finally agreed to this, and started the project by introducing his plans to me. He came to me every day with his new ideas that he was thinking about all night. Filled papers full of drawings, had a meeting with me every day. Whenever I tried to add my ideas or add something to his ideas he just would not listen. He appeared to be completely incompetent in machine design and had the worst and most impossible ideas I have ever heard. I tried to tell him how to do it but he got upset and angry calling me a rebel. He even told me not to think and leave it up to him to do as he says. So I agreed and he often gave me tasks on filling excel charts that add no value to the project, or his regular nonsense drawings. I am a little lost, working on something that makes no sense, leads to completely nowhere, wasting time, yet still receiving a high salary which is being produced by the other people in a different profession (which my boss tells me he hates) at this company.

As I work alone in my profession, I cannot talk to anyone about the project specifics, however if I mention the boss, most people share their bad experience with him, but don't really care as they have their own work to do. There is a co-supervisor at the company who is helpful in every way, but cannot or does not want to help as he is legally just another employee who has been working with my boss for many years and says there is nothing to do.

The "prosperity machine" project itself is not bad at all, the basic concept is viable, so I consider designing and building it. It would greatly help if he would trust me at least little enough that he would let me work.

How can I express disagreement to my boss without him feeling insulted every time I share my ideas?

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    There's also workplace.stackexchange.com, since this is a work-related pile of problems. – David Thornley Aug 21 '18 at 17:32
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    Oy. This is setting off so many warning bells I can't count them all. I know so many people who ended up in a situation similar to this, and it never ends up well. Ever. You may very well end up stalling out your career in a job that gives you nothing but stress, and a paycheck that might be higher than you might get elsewhere but the money in hand isn't what's the most valuable in a skilled job like this. I won't put this as an answer, because it doesn't answer the question that you asked. I recommend that you get out before you get mired. – Francine DeGrood Taylor Aug 22 '18 at 20:39
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"How can I express disagreement to my boss without him feeling insulted every time I share my ideas?"

I'm not sure you can. My best advice here would be to try to found a new job.

However, you can still try to improve things:

First, plan a meeting. Tell him that you think the way you work as a group doesn't seem efficient enough. Blame you, not him, you do not want to put him on the defensive, otherwise, communication will be lost. Then, suggest improvement. This is very important, do not go there without a solution.

In a regular meeting, try to make him focus on his needs, why does he want this done that way? Why does he think X is a better idea than Y? If he ask you something impossible, find out what he really want, then explain to him it cannot be done and why before (or after) giving him an alternative. If he want you to do things his way, tell him that you would be more efficient doing them yours (but you sure the opposite is also true).

Try to reassure him, make him feel like his ideas have value and that you respect him. Be patient and humble, listen to him, do not interrupt him and, when he is finished talking, guide him to where you want him to go. Try to not make it a matter of "him vs you" but "you both vs the difficulties". Make him feel like you are a team.

If you think he might be bipolar, do research on that subject. It might help you understand your boss, which would lead to a more effective communication. However, her is the basic symptom of bipolarity: if he doesn't take any medications, that means he has two periods. The "down" one, when he is depressed and the "up" one, when he thinks he can conquer the world and probably doesn't sleep much.

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Basically your new employer head hunted you for a specific purpose. He took you from your old job and therefore has responsibility for your welfare. But why did he do this?

Firstly because he has an ambition to build a machine from a concept which he has no idea about nor how to build it.

Secondly he poached you because of your experience which he has not got.

So you have been hired as the expert to realise his dreams. But it turns out that he expects you to magic up his ideas whilst just sitting at your desk - with no concrete concept drawings or development plans.

He has QUICKLY shown you that he can be inconsiderate and disrespectful, and that he at all points does not value your advice. He has the potential to make further nasty comments at will.

Basically as long as you are liable for this abuse then you cannot deliver your best solution. Also what worsens this situation is the fact that he just does not listen to your ideas and solutions which are SKILL BASED advice to realise his dreams.

So either you must just look elsewhere for a job where you will be valued, or ask your old employer if they will re - employ you. Or you must completely lay out your conditions for going forward to your employer. This also includes informing him of his rudeness, making him aware that it will no longer be tolerated. Do not fear this, because right is right in any scenario. If it came to a tribunal for unfair dismissal then you would win. Also it is likely that any such claim would never come to court because he would settle. So the only answer is to stop your boss from galloping all over you whilst contributing nothing but silly ideas.

Not easy - it has to be borne to move forward.

  • Actually he does have ideas how to build it and brings me concept drawings that are just so terrible in many ways like completely lacking detail, contradicting previous drawings and just out of scale and reality. Looks like he just needs me to nod and approve as the professional. I found two ways to act: either argue or join the nice agree-and-approve theater. It just feels so bad to lie all the time. – AndrewBG Aug 23 '18 at 14:18
  • Sorry Andrew - I commented but it did not come up. If you lie you will be found out when the thing does not work! You have to explain why these things are just not viable, – Elsdon Ward Aug 23 '18 at 19:01

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