Feel like I am getting it all wrong

(15 Posts)
PookieDo Tue 07-May-19 18:55:47

I manage a small team of staff and I am fairly new to the team but not to the role, I’ve been around a long time elsewhere

There are a lot of solid friendships and a very lax culture has been there for many years. The drivers of the lax culture have now moved on and the management of the team are younger/dynamic and quite target focused - because this is the nature of the beast!

This has lead to some tension

The staff I manage are not very resilient. There has been a culture of a lot of short term sickness, late lunches, last minute holiday requests, lack of focus, slacking and now over use of work internet and personal phones during work hours. There has even been some direct rudeness.

I have had to pull them up a few times - nothing formal but that I have noticed and the need to refocus and expectations. I’m backed up by higher management in this: I’ve had to decline leave requests and discuss all of the above - in a polite calm but firm way. I wanted to give them the chance to make good choices and not come down like a ton of bricks because it just never helps

I have not managed to build a rapport with one worker at all, in fact it’s just got worse and worse. They very much resent me for a lost work opportunity that was nothing to do with me, but I do understand that and am sympathetic to a point

Just as I was obliged to put them on sickness monitoring, and we have a big project going on with some work delegates to them they have gone off sick with stress. This means that I now have to cover their work, again, falling behind in my own. This is the 3rd time they have done this for other unrelated sickness reasons in the past 2 months and combined with annual leave they are simply never there. When they are rarely in they ignore me and I have to make a huge effort to enter a conversation.

I am so drained by this - it’s so time consuming. Policy and procedure is not on my side as it’s not the private sector.... its long winded and complex. I don’t know now how to manage this person day to day if things do not improve. Now as they have gone sick with stress directly related to a conversation they didn’t like, I feel I have completely failed in my role. sad I’ve made no impact just made it worse!

Anyone slap me, I need it! Any advice?

OP’s posts: |
PookieDo Tue 07-May-19 18:58:04

FYI I don’t want them to ‘like me’ that isn’t it. I want them to take some pride in their team and their job. Being liked is not important but being respected is

I have my hands tied with their ‘stress related illness’ as to what next steps to take. Formal sickness

OP’s posts: |
yorkshirepud44 Tue 07-May-19 19:59:49

I really feel for you. Inheriting the product of other line managers' failings is hard work.
You are doing the right thing and you need to see this through. You also need practical and moral support from your managers.

One of our team leaders is experiencing something which sounds similar - as hr I am really trying to support them as it took courage not to continue to ignore the behaviour of a rather unpleasant individual, who once tackled and disciplined, has now been signed off. We'll be involving occ health and taking legal advice, if it helps.

Temporaryanonymity Tue 07-May-19 20:03:50

Private or public sector the law is the same. Do you have a HR team you can get advice from?

PookieDo Tue 07-May-19 20:08:53

Thanks I do feel my only other option was to ignore it and become another part of the problem and that just isn’t me

I am partly raging as going through the file I discovered they were taken off informal sickness montoring the week before I started and 4 months early! This was intentional! So I have to start again whereas if they were still on it (as they should be for 6 months) I would already have been able to start stage 1 of formal

They have no real solid come backs to anything I ask them will not speak to me about what is bothering them. I am worrying they will raise a grievance against me and how I am going to carry on managing without them pulling their weight

OP’s posts: |
PookieDo Tue 07-May-19 20:10:06

It’s public
It’s just that the whole organisation is riddled with sickness if you put everyone on stage 1 you would have 50% of your workforce on it and still no one in work so it is encouraged to try to ‘manage it’ in house

OP’s posts: |
PookieDo Tue 07-May-19 20:11:28

^ the Bradford is not off the scale compared to some other people that’s the issue for HR. It could be worse
It’s bad enough IMO - over 300 now

OP’s posts: |
Temporaryanonymity Tue 07-May-19 20:14:02

It doesn't matter what HR think though. 300 is pretty high. We used 49 as the trigger point in my last company and it was up to the manager to manage.

thatmustbenigelwiththebrie Tue 07-May-19 20:17:18

The law definitely favours the employee.

My colleague ended up not working for two years in full pay then got a pay off of several tens of thousands to get rid of her.

The whole thing was a joke and makes me angry.

PookieDo Tue 07-May-19 20:22:44

100 in ours. This staff member has never been below it!

They do favour the employee because retention of staff is so bad. They don’t want us coming down on them because they don’t feel it’s a battle they can afford to lose anymore

OP’s posts: |
redexpat Wed 08-May-19 15:58:35

Make sure that you read every policy and do everything by the book. Make notes during every meeting. Targets should be smart.

Surely it would be better to take the short term hit and get someone new who gives a shit?

PookieDo Wed 08-May-19 20:37:31

I contacted HR with very factual account of why I think this should progress to stage 1 but no response as yet....

A co worker today made some comments about it which seemed to allude that this was Painted as down to me. In interests of fairness I need to have a similar ‘work expectations’ chat with this person too but I have no reason to be concerned about them as they are open commutative and diligent. They communicated to me that they were not surprised at turn of events it’s been a long time coming and that this person finds it hard to take direction from me as they were once able to have complete freedom. I did not respond to these comments because it would be inappropriate but essentially this is the crux of the issue - they are completely deluded if they think that they can have a role where they have ‘freedom’ to browse the internet, use their phone, take holiday when they fancy and choose their own work hours. I’m much more senior than them and autonomous and even I can’t do any of those things. Just goes to show what complete shit management has been in place that this was acceptable in the past!

I set smart targets during appraisal
I can also set up support sessions on their return. I need them to open up as I just get nods and grunts virtually NO communication nothing for me to work with. I realise one flaw I have is that I am very calm and approachable but I am working at speed (it’s the nature of job) so I maybe go too fast for them when explaining things. I will slow down. I might even move desks nearer to make a closer team environment but that could look like I am checking up on them confused

I could be more supportive but I often feel this is wasted time, this person is intentionally being obstructive. It doesn’t seem like genuine struggle. It’s a tantrum

OP’s posts: |
daisychain01 Thu 09-May-19 04:44:29

OP you're taking on a team with a lax culture. You can't change the past, but now you're in post, you can enforce your expectations for how you want the team to behave and the culture you intend to instill from now on. It may be an idea to run a half day in-house team meeting ( not a dreaded team building event, they're ghastly!). Set a varied agenda, offer some slots for members of the team to contribute to, make it a joint event, then set the expectation that from the date of this meeting, we will work like this right? Benign dictatorship!

The law definitely favours the employee
My colleague ended up not working for two years in full pay then got a pay off of several tens of thousands to get rid of her

This is not about "the law" favouring anyone.
If the employer pays an employee 2 years full pay, that's a choice they've made. As for paying them off with "tens of thousands" really? And how do you know these facts? This is one specific case, please don't conflate an individual person's circumstances with what the law stated, as it's very misleading!

PookieDo Thu 09-May-19 07:46:17

^ I’ve really tried to do that, I’ve had team meetings where I asked them to build an agenda, we discussed all their themes and let them come up with ideas and new ways of working. Obstructive person was mostly silent and only concerned with issues relating to them: so their annual leave, their working hours. They were so rude to me at one meeting the higher manager intervened and warned them it was not acceptable. I have also spent time discussing the reasoning behind decisions and not just imposing them as I know this is a frustration when you don’t know WHY things are happening. This has worked so well for the other team members, really good rapport. Just not this one person!

OP’s posts: |
DonkeyHohtay Sat 11-May-19 08:19:47

Private or public sector the law is the same

The law might be the same but the culture isn't. I've worked in departments such as the OP describes, it all boils down to the fact that over the years things have been let slide. There's just not the focus in the private sector as there are no consequences for poor performance, high sickness, huge inefficiency.

Changing that culture is really difficult. It's like turning a tanker around, especially when you've got someone who pulls the stress card out as soon as they're part of a conversation they don't like.

Do you have support from your own line manager, OP?

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