Work situation really getting me down :-(

(6 Posts)
Fitnik Wed 16-Jan-13 07:59:08

I was wondering if you have any insights at all as this situation is really getting me down.

When I joined to head my team a year ago, morale was really low. I believe the main reason is because team members are not paid anywhere near market rate salaries compared to similar companies and that this underlies many of their other complaints and issues.

My boss said I needed to raise the team’s profile. I explained to the team from the outset how we were going to achieve this and one of the ways was through award nominations. We were not in a position to enter for a team award nomination at the start of the year and so had to build up individual team member’s profiles instead and work towards a team nomination. Everyone seemed on board with this and no-one said they had any issues with my approach. We started off entering one individual for individual award nominations for the first 6 months of the year (no-one else wanted to be put forward for individual awards) but that got us nowhere as she didn’t get short-listed. In the last 6 months of the year, I entered myself for 2 awards, one of which I won and was finalist for the other. I was then nominated for a 3rd award that I didn't enter. So in summary, out of 3 awards, I was finalist for 2 last year and won one.

By the end of the year, we received our 1st ever team award nomination which I would have thought would be considered a huge achievement. At the time, the team seemed excited by the team nomination and asked that I continue entering the team for more team nominations.

Unfortunately, when we got to my end of year appraisal, my boss told me that the team found my “self-promotion” bad for team morale. I was absolutely stunned and must say devastated after all I had done for the team throughout the year e.g. putting my neck on the line to try and get them higher, market rate salaries, regularly bringing in snacks for the team ,paying for drinks for the team 2ce a month (at my own expense), giving team members multiple development opportunities. I have analysed the team’s comment and analysed myself over and over again. Boss has now told me not to publicise my achievements any more. Yet I am constantly asked by magazines (including internal company magazines) to feature my successes as they consider them motivating, feel good stories. I was invited to speak at a conference recently and even that became an issue, despite me getting 2 free places for team members to attend for free training which would have cost us serious £££ otherwise.

At the bottom of all this, my gut feeling is that my boss and/or other team members have a real issue with me being successful full stop and it has very little to do with team morale and everything to do with their own insecurities and professional jealousy.

What would you advise I do differently, if anything? I refuse to become mediocre to please other people! I cannot and will not dumb down my achievements to make others feel better. I don’t brag about my achievements (even though I have been accused of this by my boss who says team members have intimated this to him) and those outside my team find my achievements inspiring and tell me so almost daily.

But unfortunately, for whatever reason, those within my team have a real issue with my individual success and high profile, even a certain team member who I always thought was an ally and “on my side”.

They say one thing to my face and then go behind my back and say something completely different to my boss. It is difficult physically sitting with the team these days, pretending all is well when I know how much they can and will stab me in the back. I also do feel as if I am really being played like a puppet and it is really getting me down. I was really enjoying my role until all this happened but now dread going in most days. I have thought seriously of leaving but for now it suits me to remain in this role for all sorts of reasons including family commitments.

What would you do in my situation? Is this something you have come across in your own career? There is one team member in particular who has been belligerent and a pain to manage from day one. My boss hired this person, not me, and I honestly cannot wait until he leaves (I understand that he is actively interviewing for another job).

I am also left wondering how much of this is coming from my boss himself. We have a new MD now and my boss has been very concerned about any changes the new MD might make. It is very much in my boss's interest for me not to be shining at all. In his 30 or more years of working life, he has never been either nominated for an award or won one and the team has never had a sniff of an award nomination. Yet I am now being told by my boss not to apply for any more awards at all, whether team or individual when other teams within our industry are bending over backwards to get even one award nomination, whether team or individual.

I would really value and appreciate any honest insights that you might have about this absurd situation.

DoItToJulia Wed 16-Jan-13 09:51:39

No insight, but a bump for you.

Dreading going to work is horrible. Perhaps you could have a clear the air meeting? Tell everyone that you were tasked with raising the teams profile, you have tried to do it but now received feedback that you guys don't like it. Then ask them what's going on. People could always do it anonymously, written down perhaps? (Survey monkey is free and could be useful).

Alternatively you could pull rank. Hold a meeting where you tell them that their attitude is damaging to the team and you won't stand for it. Then you could have a day of one one to one appraisals to iron it out.

Does that help?

sammisamsam Wed 16-Jan-13 09:52:55

You sound like a strong, Intelligent, level headed woman. Do not try to understand the workings of their mind's because they are the opposite. If your colleagues are actually raising these jealousy issues, you need to make them understand that by doing what you are doing (awards, etc) that you are raising their business need within your organisation, which will eventually lead to better prospects for everyone. Continue putting in for your awards, continue raising your profile. If your team/Boss doesn't like it, then speak to the MD. Don't let anyone, ANYONE hinder YOUR professional development. At the end of the day, in a couple of years you may not even have to breathe the same air as these people, but the experience and achievements made in that time will aid you in your future life.

Don't take this the wrong way but i am guessing you haven't got this far in life by being a wall flower. You know what's right. Keep everything documented if you can and fight your corner. If they want a B* let them have one. But be smart about it and cover every angle. Make them see that you are not a push over and will not go quietly because your starting to shine brighter than your crappy boss!

Good luck x

sammisamsam Wed 16-Jan-13 10:02:42

DoItJulia has a good point too.

Sit down with your team and explain to them that this is not a contest between eachother. This is a way for everyone, Everyone to be NOTICED. if they work hard, make an effort to perform, that you will aid their professional development in anyway you possibly can. The problem on their side (if they are saying these things) is that you have come in and are reaping all the benefits straight away whereas the people there were "there before you" and in their heads they become territorial and jealous and are still sitting empty handed without any awards. which is a completely natural reaction to have albeit completely unfounded.

give them one chance. lay it on the line, tell them that this is not just about the company, the team but about individuals. they need to take their careers into their own hands and stop blaming others for their lack of progress. Maybe their previous boss was completely useless and they are expecting the same "me, me, me" attitude.

If after all that, pleasant but firm explanation doesn't work. then screw them all. get what you need out of the job and leave.

Fitnik Wed 16-Jan-13 19:38:39

Thanks for your advice. I've done individual meetings rather than a group meeting as none of them were prepared to say this to my face in group meeting. And they still refused to say anything to my face in the 1-1 meetings! I have now reached saturation point. Very difficult to deal with and so demoralising for me - I am only human afterall :-(

emess Wed 16-Jan-13 21:29:06

This sounds really difficult. However, noone can take YOUR achievements away from you. You should not in a position where you feel you have to apologise for your successes. Maybe time to look elsewhere?

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