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How to handle the politics.

When you are a junior banker and your manager is a horrible person

If you're joining a bank as summer intern or an analyst this summer, there's something you need to know first. Not everyone in banking is a good manager. If you're unlucky, you'll find yourself working under the kind of person you may not have experienced elsewhere in your life. 

There are two kinds of bad managers in banks.

The first are the bad managers who are just good people but never been trained and are managers because they bring in a lot of money. They are easy for an ambitious junior to deal with – you know they are good people, you know they are going to get you on deals, you know they will fight for you during bonus time, you know they will protect you!

With this kind of bad manager, your role is simply to manage upwards. Be proactive, make sure that they give you a debrief when they get back from a meeting, ask their PA to make sure that they keep you in the loop about meetings, etc.

The second type of bad manager is far more problematic. These are the ones who are just horrible people. They will sit with a mark-up from Wednesday until Friday afternoon and then call you on Friday asking for a draft on Saturday morning. In theory, they have been disempowered by banks' protected weekend policies. In reality, they still exist. They can make your life a nightmare.

If you encounter one of these bad managers, the sooner you work your way away from them, the better. They can be incredibly political and vindictive. Sometimes, you will simply find yourself stuck beneath them and unable to do anything about it because they're too important or too much of a big fee generator to escape from. In this case, you may ultimately need to leave the bank (and don't hesitate to do so if necessary - I know plenty of people who've been in this situation and have thrived when they've escaped).

Sometimes, you will have to be a bit political yourself. You can try and use the protection afforded by other managers you're working with. - Take on as much work from good managers as possible; they will often be aware of their difficult colleague. A director once protected me from a very senior managing director (MD) by making sure that I always had work to do for him instead, and interceding if the MD tried to give me work on top of that. 

It's not easy, but in either case try and get some perspective. Banking jobs are not easy, and navigating politics is an art in itself. Being thrown in at the deep end is hard, but it is the only way to learn and to build your reputation in the industry. 

Darsh Haines is the pseudonym of a former banker turned investor

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