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Back to work after 14 months and received complaint about team

(39 Posts)
PonyPals Mon 16-Jan-17 12:58:28

This is my second day back to work after 14 months of maternity leave and at the end of the day I was cornered by a manager from a different department who needs to talk to me at once (!) about my team.

She basically said "we are meeting tomorrow at 9 am as i checked your calendar and you are free, I need to make a formal complaint about your team.

I asked her what it was about and all she said was that they were unbearably noisy whilst I was away.
She then flounced off and left me standing there.

Now that some time has passed I am so angry, annoyed and anxious.
I think she is being ridiculous to wait until I get back to attack me like this.

She and her team of 2 sit next to my team of 6 and yes sometimes things get a bit noisy when they are on the phone but nothing that I would consider unbearable.
Having said that, I wasn't there this whole time.. how would I know!
I did have a catch up with our line manager (hers and mine) and asked if there is anything I should know and was told that everything and everyone went really well.

The problem is her and line manager are friends since high school (go on yearly trips together, dinner at each other's houses) and I feel that she will not be impartial in this situation.

I don't even know what I am asking. I guess I just feel anxious and can't sleep and keep running through every scenario in my head... including throwing a drink in her face!
I'm just trying to formulate my response for tomorrow... anyone have any choice words???

Ncbecauseitshard Mon 16-Jan-17 13:02:38

I'd ask why they didn't complain to your cover at the time.
It's not your fault, so stop worrying.

redexpat Mon 16-Jan-17 13:08:02

You need to establish
What she means by too noisy
Some specific examples
What if any action the other manager took at the time. Did they ask them to keep it down? Has the team been given any chance to change their behaviour? I think its a bit much to go straight for formal grievance. Did they raise it with your materity cover?
If the cause can be dealt with - if phpne lines are open from 10-12 could they be staggered between the team for example.

I dont think its a personal attack. But you could ask that in future they communicate problems in such and such a way.

unfortunateevents Mon 16-Jan-17 13:10:08

I would email her and say that 9 a.m. tomorrow is not suitable and arrange a later time (even if it is later in the day). Take back some control. I would take the time to speak to the most senior/trusted/sensible member of the team and ask if there have been complaints about noise while you were away and try to get details of how often, if they were justified, etc. If there are other teams sitting close to yours, I would also try to speak to people there to gauge the problem, if any.

Difficult to help with formulating a response if it's unclear whether her complaint is justified or not.

Chloe84 Mon 16-Jan-17 13:24:11

I'd ask why they didn't complain to your cover at the time.

This. Why didn't she complain to her friend and line manager?

Chloe84 Mon 16-Jan-17 13:24:59

Definitely suggest another date for the meeting. Preferably on a Friday afternoon. Or next week.

Miserylovescompany2 Mon 16-Jan-17 13:38:07

How were you accountable whilst on maternity leave? Surely, you can only be held accountable whilst it is under your watch? Just point out the obvious...

HelsBels5000 Mon 16-Jan-17 13:38:28

How is the noise level made by your team when you weren't there anything to do with you?

Sprinklestar Mon 16-Jan-17 13:42:02

She sounds deranged! Assume she wasn't being serious as to be honest, that's the only reasonable explanation here.

RogueStar01 Mon 16-Jan-17 13:43:30

yes, push back the meeting time. I don't think this can be personal, you weren't there at the time, this is entirely obvious. You need more time to investigate, and talk to your joint boss about what the other manager has alleged, it obviously wasn't all fine or she wouldn't be raising a grievance.

pollygon Mon 16-Jan-17 13:49:49

I think I'd probably have the meeting, let her rant, listen quietly, write stuff down and then very brightly say "OK! Let me go and investigate with my team," gather your papers up and stand up to leave. It sounds like she's worked herself up into a rage and 1) she needs to vent 2) you can get the upper hand by being the not-ridiculous professional one.

Then you can wait a week and send her 'the results of your investigations', which can be along the lines of 'what a shame this wasn't raised in my absence, as it could easily have been addressed'.

Basically I'm suggesting trying to make her feel a bit silly while appearing utterly professional and blameless yourself.

RhiWrites Mon 16-Jan-17 13:50:14


Ask your line manager to attend the meeting with you. Stay calm and ask questions like "what did you do to address this? who did you speak to? what was the result?"

You can't be blamed for things that happened when you were away. You can view this as how smoothly things go when you are there!

Piffpaffpoff Mon 16-Jan-17 13:55:58

I would do exactly what Pollygan says. Let her rant, take notes and then say you'll look into it. She'll most likely push you for info on what you are going to do and when - be a broken record "I'll investigate the points you make and get back to you." Good luck!

AnnieAnoniMouse Mon 16-Jan-17 13:56:16

Fuck that for a joke.

Email her along the lines of

'There is no need for a meeting tomorrow. Anything you were unhappy with during my absence should have been discussed with 'Line Manager', she is happy with how things went while I was on maternity leave, so there's nothing we need to discuss. Should you wish to have a meeting with me regarding anything in the future, let me know & I will schedule a convenient time to meet with you'.

Or simply 'Do fuck off'

I bet you're so glad to be back at work.


Lespritdelsietanner Mon 16-Jan-17 14:06:21

Your team were noisy? And she wants to have a meeting about this? Does she not have enough to do with her day? Why didn't she just tackle them about it directly, at the time? And finally, in what sort of 21st Century workplace would this issue even require a meeting? It's very infantile. and she sounds unhinged. Please don't worry, this is just too ridiculous to sweat over.

BarbarianMum Mon 16-Jan-17 14:33:01

It's not a personal attack. Just go to the meeting, take notes and tell her you'll look into it and get back to her. Maybe she did take it up with your cover with no effect, maybe she's an area. Either way you're paid to sort it out.

BarbarianMum Mon 16-Jan-17 14:34:27

arse, not area thanks, helpful phone

PonyPals Mon 16-Jan-17 20:49:52

Thanks everyone for your replies.
I think I will go to the meeting partly because I would actually like to hear what she has to say and then I will do my own investigation.
Maybe it's not a personal attack and she just feels that nothing was done to address the issue whilst I was away. Just felt like one as she must have worked her self up and wants to complain to me.
Either way I slept for 3 hours last night due to a teething toddler and now I am on my way to work with a giant coffee to face my lovely coworker.

stopfuckingshoutingatme Mon 16-Jan-17 21:07:15

Welcome back to work !

Be professional , don't make assumptions and hear her out and then make as assessment

throwingpebbles Mon 16-Jan-17 21:12:18

It's not an attack on you is it. She clearly felt you had them more under control and will understand her concerns. You can't be responsible for what went before, and if they didn't complain while you were gone then your team are not really at fault either

ailPartout Tue 17-Jan-17 07:34:58

Be professional.

You cannot be blamed for the behaviour of your team whilst you were away but not you are back after your time away, it is your responsibility.

Make sure the meeting is minuted fairly and correctly. If you feel your line manager is not fair then you have the possibility to take it further.


This seems to me to be terrible advice. I would want to know everything so I can make sure that now I am back in charge, I am back in charge.

I don't see why the meeting needs to be pushed back. You're being briefed. There's no prep. that you can do in advance.

Make sure that whilst remaining professional, she does too. Point out it wasn't your responsibility. Don't let her get away with ranting or blaming you or speaking unprofessionally.

Thank her for informing you.


harderandharder2breathe Tue 17-Jan-17 08:43:29

Where I work, if a particular team gets to noisy, the nearest manager will go tell them to shut up. Call centre is obviously noisier to start with, but if we were clearly all sat round having a loud joke, we'd get told to stop (perfectly reasonable as it disrupts others)

Who was managing the team while you were off and why weren't any concerns raised with them? And why couldn't another manager just tell them to shut up? Why the need for official meetings while you're on the back foot about something you have know knowledge or control of as it happened while you were off?

Trifleorbust Tue 17-Jan-17 08:56:23

I wouldn't worry about it - it's not like you were supervising them and the complaint is nothing to do with you. Just hear her out and try to resolve it amicably if possible.

PonyPals Tue 17-Jan-17 09:12:40

So, the meeting didn't happen.
She didn't rock up to work until 9.30 - half an hour later than she was meant to meet me. Came up to me and said 'I'm ready now'. I let her know that I wasn't available any longer until later on in the day and she just said let's play it by ear.
During the day I had a meeting with my team individually to catch up on what they worked on etc. And everyone of them complained about her and that she was making their life at work very hard (swearing under her breath, walking out and declaring she cannot work under these conditions hmm)
They informed me that the Line manager has been involved through out the year and certain suggestions were put in place (noise cancellation headphones were bought for her and 2 staff, suggestion to move them into a quiet area) but all the suggestions were met with why should I be punished.
Now, I am taking all this on board but understand that I am hearing their side only.
What I am confused about is why my manager didn't say any of this to me.
Back at work on Thursday and will have a chat and find out.

PonyPals Tue 17-Jan-17 09:13:17

Oh and the complaining manager completely ignored me for the rest of the day (she sits behind me - open plan)

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