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To think managers are not respected unless they're nasty

(23 Posts)
stillpinching Thu 02-Feb-17 16:22:40

Well, I hope it's not really the case, but it seems to be true in my case.

I am currently running my department on a semi-official basis while my manager is on long-term sick. I was his deputy and am by far the most experienced person there, so it was always going to be me who stepped up.

My manager was disliked by us all as he was arrogant, incompetent, rude and lacked communication skills. The manager before him was also disliked as he was less incompetent but unbelievably rude and tactless. While they were in charge people did as they said and were respectful - they moaned endlessly behind their backs, but often were sickly sweet to their faces, or at least respectful.

I have often thought that I have never had a positive role-model as a manager, but have seen lots of examples of what not to do over the years. I have tried, since taking over, to treat people well, be supportive where I can, listen to their views etc, but it seems this is just leading to people taking advantage and complaining a lot. Any requests I make are often met with complaining and moaning, lots of people (not all) appear to have developed a negative attitude and it is really getting me down. It's not anarchy - they do as I say, but only after arguing the toss. One woman had an altercation with another team member the other day, and when I dealt with it she actually shouted at me. Since then she is not talking to me. how is that acceptable?

When I first took over everyone was so positive and supportive and said how much better it was under me, but now it is just gripe city. We are very busy, and short-staffed, which doesn't help, but I don't think it's just that.

AIBU to think I just have to be, well, less nice?

MrsPolkaDotLady Thu 02-Feb-17 16:28:00

In my experience it's always the nasty ones that progress well at work and are respected with people creeping and crawling around them and desperate to be liked by them. I mean all levels of staff, not just management.

I've actually just left a job as one woman in the office was a complete bitch, bullying people and ruling the office. Everyone else fawned over her but I refused to stand for it. She was absolutely shit at her job but management wouldn't dare argue with her either!

maggiethemagpie Thu 02-Feb-17 16:28:59

Not at all, I work in a role coaching managers and some of the best, most respected managers are the most caring, fair people who really try to understand what makes their staff tick and work with them to develop them and improve performance.
The nasty managers may get things done, but they're not respected and usually end up being less effective than the nicer ones.

In the nicest possible way, I think your management skills may need some development, you need to learn how to be firm but fair, to give people the benefit of the doubt to start with but if they are taking the piss or not taking action, to know how to and when to deal with this.

If someone is shouting at you, you need to show them the boundaries, like you would do with a child. Where I work that would be a stern chat followed by something in writing. The worse thing you can do is not take action because you're fearful of their reaction.

You can take action with someone's behaviour without being nasty, you can do it in a respectful but firm way and being able to do this is an essential test of management IMHO.

Iliketeaagain Thu 02-Feb-17 16:39:25

Like the pp put it (much better than I can), it's not about being nasty.
It's about being firm and fair and being clear that you are responsible for managing the team. I think it's always more difficult when you manage a team you have been part of - because effectively, you're not their peer any more, your their manager.

There are nice but firm ways to manage gripes / moans. It's about giving people ways to manage their workload and supporting them to prioritise.

I had a great manager in the past who always had a way of turning gripes around - ask the people who are moaning how they would solve the problem. As a manager, it isn't your job to "solve" everything, it's your job to manage the team effectively to get work done.

Allthebestnamesareused Thu 02-Feb-17 17:14:58

I actually think its is probably more to do with the fact that you have been promoted from within and they are still treating you like one of them rather than management.

I worked as a legal executive before qualifying as a solicitor and worked at the same place. Some of the partners still did not treat me the same as they treated other solicitors and in the end the only way I was treated as such was by moving elsewhere.

typedwithcertainty Thu 02-Feb-17 17:26:43

My manager is absolutely foul. I do not respect her in the slightest.

I think good managers with good relationships with their staff are really hard to come by. Lots of managers are there because they have delivered performance results but it takes a different skill to deal with the complexities of managing people.

Andrewofgg Thu 02-Feb-17 17:29:54

My present manager could not be nasty if she tried and she has the respect of us all. It's her first managerial role and she is brilliant at it. So no OP you are wrong.

ExplodedCloud Thu 02-Feb-17 17:38:22

I had a manager who was lovely. We worked really well as a team and he knew how to get the best out of us. Lots of mutual respect. No nonsense though.
I've always tried to model my managerial style on his and it's been OK.
It wasn't so good when I was acting up before being formally appointed so I suspect you're not seen as an authority figure.

BewtySkoolDropowt Thu 02-Feb-17 17:45:06

The manager I respect most of all the ones I have had is the one that was the nicest. She knew the job inside out, gave you time and listened when you needed support and was an all round brilliant manager.

Unfortunately while all the people that worked under her loved having her as their manager, and the organisations that we dealt with had a lot of respect for her too. Her immediate bosses however... (but then again they were arsehole managers)

Timeforabiscuit Thu 02-Feb-17 17:50:55

It sounds like there is a whole load of dysfunction going on in your team, and previous shit managers were either a cause or an effect of that.

PossumInAPearTree Thu 02-Feb-17 17:54:02

A nasty manager will get stuff done because people are scared of them.

An inspiring and supportive manager who knows how to lead effectively will get stuff done because they will convince people they want to do it and people will also be motivated to do what they're told but also stretch themselves to do a bit more.

Never under estimate the goodwill of your staff.

piginboots Thu 02-Feb-17 17:55:24

Being sickly sweet to their faces and bitching behind their backs does not translate as having respect!

Ime the managers that are respected
- know their shit
- are not afraid to make decisions/take responsibility
- treat their team well and fairly

UpWithPup Thu 02-Feb-17 18:14:01

I think it's more to do with being firm and consistent than being mean or nasty. Just because you listen to their opinions, doesn't detract from the fact it is your decision and you wont just do what they want for example.

PeggyMitchell123 Thu 02-Feb-17 18:19:43

I think it's about being firm rather than nasty. My partner is in management and he nice and gets on with all he works with but he also doesn't take any nonsense and wouldn't think twice about bollocking one of his staff if they take the piss. They respect him for it and he has not had any problems.

If people moan about your decisions, you need to be firm and point out you are the manager and your decision is final. Don't be a pushover wanting to be everyone's friend.

harderandharder2breathe Thu 02-Feb-17 18:20:55

My senior manager is well liked by her staff, and well regarded by staff and other departments, she's also had national recognition. She's not nasty at all. She's fair, she doesn't act like she's above anyone, but she's firm.

I had a manager once who had been promoted from within the team, he bullied me out of the job. He's now risen high in the company because he's an arse licker. I hope he's learnt better people management skills but he was truly awful to me and I have warned close friends against working for him.

iamapixiebutnotaniceone Thu 02-Feb-17 18:26:23

I think you might be my boss....wink
She is far too friendly with staff and that leaves people thinking she is a pushover and generally taking the piss with laziness and 'sickness'. The last manager was an absolute horror but nobody dared ring in sick unless absolutely necessary and everyone did the job that they were paid to do.

NewIdeasToday Thu 02-Feb-17 18:27:48

How about looking at some management books to get some practical advice about how to start leading the team in a more positive way that fits with your own values?
You can pick up useful ideas for fresh approaches so you don't end up repeating failures of others in your organisation.

ForalltheSaints Thu 02-Feb-17 18:30:19

I have worked for nice and nasty managers, and I know who was the most effective at managing their team, the nice ones. Who knew their stuff and were consistent. You can be professional and respected without being friends with those you manage.

Zafodbeeblbrox10 Thu 02-Feb-17 18:34:20

I would guess that as you are only acting the role, many of your peers do not see you as their boss, so non-compliance and subordination will happen. You will be tested by some, and admired by others. If you actually get promoted into the role I would expect your underlings to change tack and mostly respect you, especially if you are "firm but fair", as said by pp's. Don't become an arsehole manager, they demand respect rather that earning it, and are generally disliked.

WhereYouLeftIt Thu 02-Feb-17 18:38:48

Perhaps it's not that you have to be nasty to progress, but that being a nasty thick-skinned person allows you to not buckle under the strain of herding cats (and other nasty colleagues).

WhereYouLeftIt Thu 02-Feb-17 18:39:47

Having said that, I have had many well-respected bosses who were not nasty in the slightest.

TarragonChicken Thu 02-Feb-17 19:00:35

No, I don't agree.

I have recently had a wonderful manager (ML cover - am dreading her leaving). She is genuinely supportive and will fight our corner to higher-ups. She's fair and consistent, but not afraid to say when something needs to be dealt with. In the last 10 years it's the first time I have had a manager I felt really positive about. (It may be relevant that I work in the NHS!)

I agree with pp about getting people to make suggestions if they have a complaint, but you will have to take these on board if you ask for them. This sort of leadership, as opposed to an autocratic style, will encourage people to question you, but you have to make sure it is about reasonable things, in appropriate manner.

E.g. questioning ways of organising work - acceptable if they have an alternative in mind they are prepared to discuss with the team. Refusing to comply with company dress code - not acceptable to strop at you about it, they need to discuss with HR etc if they think it is unreasonable.

So, my advice would be to continue as you are, but crack down on any 'problem' behaviours. Someone shouts at you - private meeting, with HR support if necessary, making it very clear this is not acceptable and clarifying acceptable behaviour. Make sure you are well versed in relevant policies.

You talk about a negative atmosphere. My last manager was obsessed about the atmosphere (she used a different phrase which I can't remember for the life of me, but I found really irritating). This is a symptom, not a problem. It is not helped by telling people they need to be more positive. It is dealt with by treating the underlying causes: in our case people feeling overworked and under supported. What has made a difference is having someone who will listen to our concerns, do something about it and feedback to us. Our workload has got worse, but we feel more able to cope with it.

ShowMePotatoSalad Thu 02-Feb-17 19:03:42

An old manager of mine was like Jekyll and Hyde.

She could be incredibly kind and supportive, and she always got the best out of us when she backed us up.

Depending on her mood she could be awful. If you phoned and the signal was dodgy you couldn't tell her, because if you did she'd shout "it's not my bloody fault the signal's going!!!" As in, everything you said she took as a personal dig at her. It was quite frustrating at times. I didn't respect her then because she was letting her emotions take over and she wasn't being professional.

A fair, kind manager is much more worthy of respect. Fairness includes dealing with people taking the piss and taking advantage of manager's good nature.

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