I am a 27-year-old cis-gendered female INTP with mild Asperger’s and a good job at a nonprofit. My organization is doing good work and actually effecting some positive change in this insane community of people. This isn’t really what I want to be doing long term (I am interested in Data Science and Machine Learning) but it is a good job and a good salary while I do personal and contract work in my chosen field with the hope of being able to enter that field as a career.

I have had a lot of different experiences, some have been successful and some haven’t, but what I have learned thus far follows:

  • I am highly empathetic in spite of my social dysfunction and people tend to like me even though they find me odd.
  • When I am not liked it is because people perceive me as cold, overly-rational, and arrogant. This is common among people with Asperger’s, especially women.
  • I am really, really smart.
  • I have a penchant for organizational thinking, resource management, and strategy.
  • Many organizations are completely dysfunctional because the people in charge are not good at the aforementioned things.
  • I am good at managing people as resources, but not very good at managing people as people.

I believe in my organization. I also believe that it is totally dysfunctional. In my experience, most nonprofits are.

Specifically, I am mismanaged as a resource. My direct supervisor (who is at the director level) has never had a direct report before me – and she does not know how to manage people either as people or as resources. The reason she was given an assistant is because she is doing two (completely different) full-time jobs at once – one of which is in line with her experience and career and the other which is not her area of expertise at all.

The problem is that she is unable to effectively delegate – so we have a situation where she is totally overwhelmed and I am completely bored. I have asked her repeatedly to allow me to take some things off her plate, but she is unwilling to trust my ability to do anything on my own, which basically amounts to her having a ton more work by virtue of having an assistant rather than having less. It’s maddening.

So there are two major problems: 1.) I am totally unsatisfied in my job and 2.) this mismanagement of resources is a waste of my salary – which this organization sorely needs.

One of my boss’s jobs is development, which is the second position that sort of fell into her lap and isn’t what she is good at or wants to do. I believe that it would not take much improvement on the part of a new, more experienced development director to pay for the difference between my current salary and his/her hypothetical new salary – the going rate for a fairly experienced development director at this kind of organization is only about $30,000 higher than what I’m making now. I want to suggest to the executive director that I leave my position and they use my salary to hire someone new at the same level as my current supervisor to ensure that both jobs get done well and fully.

I would like to stay at this organization if they can find a place for me where my talents are beneficial and I am permitted to take on interesting projects and learn new things, but regardless of where I end up, the organization doesn’t need me to be in my current position, and because of my boss’s difficulty with being a manager, I’m actually hurting the organization by being here more than I am helping it.

So my question is this: How the hell do I propose this plan (fire me, reduce the scope of my current boss’s job to something she can manage without an assistant, and hire a person to do development who actually knows what the hell they are doing) in a way that the board and executive director will take seriously?  I am aware that this suggestion is brazen and likely to really piss off my current boss, but I also think it is a good solution to a very real problem that needs to be addressed.

8 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    The organization doesn’t care that you’re bored. And most organizations will not care that you’re bored. Your IQ is very high – most things probably bore you, unless you are managing yourself.

    It costs too much effort to make sure every employee is 100% utilized. That is not part of your organization’s mission, so they don’t care. And your organization doesn’t care if your boss is bad at delegating – the organization just needs the work to get done.

    Instead of focusing on how you think people should conduct themselves, focus on what people want you to do and just do that. That’s your job. If you are so great at knowing what’s important to non-profits then you should run one; there are lots of things to take into account besides efficiency.

    I don’t mean to put you down. I mean to help you spend your time doing stuff that matters. Look at your organization for a job that management cares about that is not getting done. And do it. That will get you farther than second-guessing people.

    Penelope

  2. jessica
    jessica says:

    My brother is an INTP. He is fantastic at pointing out others (particularly his boss’) incompetencies and areas of needed improvement. He’s always right. He does the same thing that you are suggesting- he resigns when he thinks things are not run to a particular INTP-defined standard.
    From my POV of seeing this play out in his career-
    He thinks by leaving or causing social conflict with his viewpoint, change will occur. It doesn’t because it is well intended, but misled. No one actually cares because INTPs are pretty replaceable, hardworking, and super smart. Actually a lot of people could fit that explanation, but INTPs can accidentally rub people the wrong way (without intending to, for the sake of rationalisation) and he always ends up leaving on a sour note (while trying to push his agenda).
    I don’t see an INTP actually wanting to run a non-profit though, he would love the ‘idea’ of it, but in practice would probably want to stay huddled in the corner doing what he does best- great high level work that is dependent on his intellect.

    I’m really close with him, and even though this sounds like a negative post on INTPs, he’s super sweet and caring and a great person. When it comes to work-stuff particularly, it’s his way or the highway.

  3. Pirate Jo
    Pirate Jo says:

    This situation where a manager can’t delegate is very common. I usually see it in larger corporations with Soviet-style bureaucracy, but it can happen anywhere, even in places where they can’t afford it.

    Sometimes it’s because the manager is the one who will have her feet held to the fire if you make a mistake. She doesn’t want to be held accountable for someone else’s work, so she prefers to do the work herself. That’s understandable, but the problem is really occurring higher up the chain. Would you be comfortable taking on that second job and being accountable directly to your boss’s boss? Before you leave, it might be worth having a conversation directly with that person and seeing if you can make that a job that is created for you.

    Sometimes, though, the problem is simply with your direct manager. They are insecure, need to feel important, whatever.

    Everyone wants their own job. No one wants to be sitting around bored, doing nothing while they wait for their manager to summon them for a bit of grunt work. Good managers understand that and delegate and let others be accountable for their own work and develop their own talents. But you need to realize, there aren’t very many good managers. Most people don’t become managers because they care about being a good manager – they do it because they want to make more money. Organizations sometimes make a lot of noise about cultivating leadership, which is where you go to an offsite and listen to the CEO give motivational speeches and try to create a cult following, even though everyone wishes they would just shut up and focus on running the company.

    I’d recommend bypassing your manager and seeing if you can become the “owner” of that second full-time job your manager has, by having a conversation higher up the chain. (But don’t ever tell them that hiring you is a waste of money – not a good idea.) If that doesn’t work, you could see if they will let you work from home, which would alleviate your daily boredom.

    Keep your focus on your long-term goals of Data Science and Machine Learning. If you can’t fix things in your current situation, at least you can remind yourself that it’s only temporary.

  4. Becky
    Becky says:

    I’m an ENTP who has been struggling with this issue. I will consider Penelope’s advice. I think it is what I’ve told myself before. I am trying to find ways to be useful in the organization as it is, not how I think it should be.

    Thanks.

    • Anna
      Anna says:

      INTP here… This is good advice, as is Penelope’s advice. It seems like as soon INTP’s do that, then the urge to invent something original can be better applied elsewhere.

  5. ruo
    ruo says:

    the point about 100% optimization costing too much effort and no one cares makes me sad.

    one time i was travelling with 2 other people and it turned out that booking 2 rooms with 2 beds was the same price as 1 room with 3 beds. i could not stand the idea of leaving an empty bed for the hotel, and that i was going to cause inefficient use of space… i ended up had to book the 1 room w 3 beds and sharing one bathroom, being general physically uncomfortable, made me feel better mentally. much to the dismay of my fellow travellers.

    unfortunately, this sort of ‘optimization’ is what 99.99% of the world do not care about. i think the problem with INTPs is they don’t know which part of being their natural selves is a welcoming contribution to society. being nice is boring. being a do-er is a lot of work that we don’t like. being smart is overrated. being perceived as cold and arrogant is just not good for our psyche long term. so where does that leave intps? I find intps paths frequently leads us down the spiral of unhappiness until we “think” we have a new “toy for the mind”.

    keep trying new things to move forward. the good news is we are smart enough to always be employed until we get bored. leave one job for another. I don’t beat myself up anymore when i want a change of scenery every year. i start looking for my next job as soon as i get hired for the current one. one day, i tell myself one day, i will have worked enough odd jobs and mastered enough skills to go out on our own.

    • jessica
      jessica says:

      It’s not that people don’t care about optimisation, it’s that every type values that structure at a certain percentage of their make up. Some people care more about efficiency than others, that’s all.

      Viewing it as all or nothing, in the case of not having an extra bed filled, seems more OCD- like than valuing efficiency for the sake of it. Need flexibility when dealing with mundane tasks, and especially with people such as your example -booking a hotel room for others as well as oneself, doesn’t seem to be something that should take that much mental energy. Or rather whoever delegated that task to you perhaps learned their lesson :).

      INTPs are brilliant, but I think maybe if the brilliance isn’t focused, it can become consuming and misread. I disagree with your generalisations about the world, but I can understand that becoming your pov. Being smart is not overrated (my brother loves how smart he is ha), being kind is a must, and the great thing about INTPs is that even if you don’t ‘do-much’ what you do is always really valuable.

      In short, focus on where the efficiency really makes a difference and put energy towards that. Round out the rougher social edges with practice. Expect to be misunderstood, and delighted when you’re not while you improve your direction. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself.

  6. gracie17
    gracie17 says:

    I think that presenting your re-org idea to your Director or the Exec Dir is likely to blow up in your face for the reasons Penelope cited. But since development is so key to the health and longevity of a nonprofit, it is hard to believe that they would not be very interested in making that work better. If you have a formal review process, bring it up with your boss then. Introduce a desire to assist with the development process as a goal/professional development objective (whatever category works with your review process) and present a fleshed out but not overly technical development plan. It is hard to ignore an employee who has taken the time to prep a decent presentation addressing a very important need, though it is of course possible that your boss will blow it off, particularly if you do not take care to discuss it in a very non-threatening way. Offer your services to realize the plan and be very clear that it will be with your boss’s oversight and approval, even if some of the work is outside of her skillset. This entails a willingness to do more work at your current job level/salary. If you are given the green light, you will have a nice set of stats showing development improvement at your next review, and asking for a title and salary upgrade (and perhaps the addition of at least part-time help with administration) may seem reasonable to your director; it is hard to argue with increased $ rolling in. And it will make her look good to the higher ups as well. It is a gamble, but if you want to stay in the job for another year or more, help the organization grow and add to your own resume, it may be worth it. It will be very important to be respectful of your boss (even if you do not think she merits that), and diligently keep her in the loop to avoid alienating her. The Exec Dir will be aware that the jump in revenue is on you if your boss has been around more than long enough to have moved the needle by now.

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