Had big blow-out with line mgr yesterday. Now feeling vulnerable - what should I do, if anything?(11 Posts)
Have namechanged for this. Is slightly long too...
I have been in my current role in huge public sector organisation for nearly three years, minus 6 months mat leave. I've worked for this org for just over 8 years as a whole and been promoted once in that time. All is well in myself, I am confident at what I do.
A new line manager came in above me in April - this is his second post at his grade and (I think) his first where he has a team beneath him, although it's a team of one, ie me. I have been finding him unbelievably difficult, partly because two years ago he was here before promotion (ie same grade as me) and was noticeably immature then.
Don't want to go into too much detail on what is difficult between us - it involves him taking on a lot of the things I had been doing and not letting me stay involved, as well as criticising my abilities - but yesterday we had a meeting where it all came out. And then I decided to take a leap of trust and tell him something deeply personal, which I hoped would be useful in identifying why our personalities rub up the wrong way.
What I told him was that I have for a while suspected that I am somewhere mildly on the autistic spectrum, and that this could identify why I find it really difficult, near impossible, to read signals and read between the lines and all the other stuff which means that I don't "get it" in interaction with other colleagues. Also I wanted to explain that I need him to delegate work to me clearly rather than talk about things he's doing and assume I am deriving supporting work and deadlines from this chitchat.
Up to that point in the meeting he had obviously been nervous. He is a year or so younger than me and was really clearly not enjoying the 'confrontation'. I know this from visual clues - quivering chin, unusually precise and sentence-y way of speaking, and he was even reading a sort of script about all the issues he had with the way we are (not) working.
The moment I told him of my personal issue, he instantly became much more confident and settled. Ironically, even I could see the body language was massively different, he started smiling and stuff and told me back a story of how he appreciated when someone else (who he named) had a visual disability. So I am really worried now that he has a sort of a power thing. I felt really vulnerable and I am now terrified he is going to tell other people of my 'problem' and not sensitively.
Hmmm or it could be that he took the sign of you confiding him to mean that you care about the quality of the relationship and are not out to shaft him.
But I agree, it could be read both ways.
Any medical details you tell your manager should be kept in confidence. My advice (and have done this before) is make copious notes on the detail of the meeting in case of any other troubles further down the line. Also locate a copy of your works policy in which it explicitly states how medical details are kept confidential.
I'm sure it will be fine. Actually sounds like you have cleared the air which is no bad thing. Also, perhaps to get tested yourself for autism and relay results back to your company so that they can support you.
Was a member of HR present during the meeting?
That was possibly a bit unpleasant of him to name the person with the visual disability, and to admit that he "appreciated " it, although it depends how he said it.
You could always continue to investigate this tendency in yourself, and see if you can be properly diagnosed. If you are not, it could just be that you don't pick up work-delegation from, as you say, "chitchat".
If you are on the autistic spectrum, and are diagnosed, this could protect you from discriminatory behaviour: you told him clearly what sort of clear delegation you need (and it's only good management to be clear, rather than hinting).
Maybe you should open up to others, in order to keep a check on his behaviour.
Good luck; it's not nice feeling as vulnerable as you do.
Thank you both SO much. I am really relieved that it doesn't sound like I took too much of a risk. The outcome I wanted was improving our ways of working, so I hope that will work anyway.
I will write up the meeting now. There was nobody else in the meeting, but I discussed it with an HR friend this morning and she knows that I had been trying to find a way to improve the relationship. I didn't tell her the ASD point but I did say that it was about finding behavioural subtleties difficult and that I was really spooked by the change in his demeanour that even I could see.
How do I pursue a diagnosis? Do I just go to a GP and ask to be referred somewhere? I don't want to seem like I'm looking for any sort of excuse or special treatment though. I almost feel I need training in how to understand when things are not as they appear. It is why writing on a website is so much more comfortable.
Sounds like you did the right thing.
I would keep up the dialogue. I am assuming your name change is your Myers Briggs profile?
If it is, it's an interesting one as and quite a potent one if you keep the J in check!
"I almost feel I need training in how to understand when things are not as they appear."
I know you must feel like it's a problem with you that needs to be managed slightly, that's fine, you obviously feel there is a specific problem that you may need help with. but I would be careful before you start considering all of it on your shoulders - you seem to want to stand up for yourself based on your posts which is great - but always remember that there are plenty of managers out there who:
- don't give specific deadlines but just assume people take vague chitchat about "in a few months" as hard schedules
- don't get things down in writing clearly
- don't know how to delegate properly
- have piss poor soft skills
I used to have a manager just like the one you're describing (at least in the practical implications - being vague, changing requirements, forgetting if stuff's been passed on).
In the end I took to documenting everything down to the tinest detail, even summaries of verbal catchups - the amount of times it saved my bacon I won't describe! Of course this was an increased workload for me, but it was worth the stress of dealing with such an idiot.
Good luck, btw.
<<nods sagely at gaaagh>> Bacon saving documentation is a must. With my last boss I insisted on weekly meetings (Wednesday 10am) where we would go thorugh a list of what we've done/needed doing. He was also a bit on the immature side and a bit spooked that I had been employed to support him but had far more qualifications and experience than he did. I find the insecure ones often have a firm belief in telepathy, I can't count the number of times that I pointed out to him that, unless he forwarded me emails, I would not magically know that something needed to be done.
I think you did the right thing. You can now use this to formulate a way of working with him that works for both of you. I suspect part of his obvious relief was that he realised that the problem wasn't entirely with him. He was probably freaking out that you would point out every one of his failings in full and graphic detail.
I think you've done the right thing too - and I take from his reaction that he was pleased that you had told him - sounds like it may be now an opportunity to build bridges with greater understanding?
My advise to you at this point is to get yourself assessed.
I have dyscalculia which was finally "diagnosed" at forty - although I always suspected.
It has massively helped me at work (I am a CEO) - and helped others who now understand why I need financial things spelled out very very clearly.
Thanks all. I have looked at NHS and NAS websites and will ask for a referral. Writing up meetings - v dull but I understand the benefit it will give.
and also, yes it is my Myers Brings . Oddly I think it is the E which gives me the most problems, because it is difficult to judge when I am right to butt in and take over. The J is no problem as long as I am actually
always right, which I like to think I am...
Hope this is the turning point for your working relationship and agree definitely write the meeting up, it was a brave move
Had to comment as I also noticed your userid and wondered if it was your MB profile. I'm an INTJ and have found that the J part is usually not a problem...the weird thing is people assume you are right even if you're not, which doesn't help
with the judgey pants
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