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(22 Posts)
Aliceinwonder1 Wed 20-May-20 20:13:01

I am a team manager at a pretty big company, I run a team of 15 within a department of 150ish people. There are several other team managers.
The company had asked everyone to complete a survey, this is due to current climate and to gauge moral.
My results came back today and I'm gutted, truly gutted. The comments my team have made about me as their team manager are so negative and I didn't see it coming. I try to be there for each and every person, time off for personal reasons, adjust shifts if needed etc. I consistently ask them to come to me if they need anything etc.
However numerous comments of I don't care, not there, barely talk to them etc.
I'm obviously doing something very wrong and I really do want to change this and create a strong and happy team. Can I hear from managers with some pointers perhaps?
I have always had my doubts that I am any good as a manager and guess I sort of fell into the role but this has hit me hard.

Grumpetvoluntary Wed 20-May-20 20:20:50

I could have written this post a couple of years ago. I spoke to my team about the results and it turned out they all had very bad feelings towards the company in general and let out their feelings on the annual survey. It hadn't occurred to them that it would look like it was me they had a problem with. I had run myself into the ground trying to do my best for the team but because the wider company did not have any of our backs, there was nothing I could do to make a real difference. I decided to move on and am now happier than ever in a new role elsewhere with people who do appreciate me.

I'm not saying your situation is the same but looking at the bigger picture helped me. I realised that you have to look out for yourself as a priority.

C152H Wed 20-May-20 21:15:59

It must have felt terrible to read that feedback. It may be general unhappiness at the company, as another poster has suggested. However, you mentioned you always had doubts about your skills as a manager and it was a role you fell into. Were you provided with any training specifically on what is expected of a manager and how to be a good one? Perhaps you should take some time to review the feedback to see if any of the remarks could be construed as constructive criticism, have a chat with your team to see if you can draw out any particular issues and then investigate whether there is any sort of training that would help you? e.g. a trainer experienced in the corporate environment who offers management / soft skills?

wallywonker Wed 20-May-20 23:05:37

How horrible for you and how mean of your company to let you see the feedback (probably with no support offered).

How are the company treating the staff at the moment? I would think that might be a major contributing factor to the overall result. To cut a long story short, our team have been treated dreadfully by management over the last few weeks (no leadership, no communication, etc.). I'm looking for a new job but if I was filling in a survey I would be pretty scathing. Crap new manager too but that is a whole other issue.

What's your background? Are you happy in a management role? You need a thick skin IMO and it's not for everyone.

If it's any consolation I do wonder how I am perceived. I don't think I am always very popular as I am quite direct. I currently work with a load of wafflers (who are a lovely bunch) which that doesn't really help!

I would approach your team and ask for a bit more feedback for learning purposes. It might not actually be as bad as you think if you have a bit more detail.

Aliceinwonder1 Thu 21-May-20 06:17:49

I know they also have issues with the way the company has handled things.. However there's separate questions about that so I haven't focused too much on those yet. Just the ones who talk about the team management.
No I've never really had training, no one has you kind of just learn on the job I guess they say. I don't particularly like my role however money wise I can't really change it just yet, especially with current climate.
My team have all been so lovely to my face and I thought we had a good team relationship so I feel completely disheartened by it. It's all personal to me the comments, not like a mix up with the company type thing.
I try so hard with a team that doesn't like to give much back, quite negative with any changes so I try to be positive to reassure them, when we have team meetings they barely contribute. It's hard work.

Aliceinwonder1 Thu 21-May-20 06:24:54

I'm also going to have to bring it up with my boss as I'm pretty certain he gets a copy to view. Feel I need to tell him before he just reads it and explain I will put changes into place. Doesn't look great on me does it.
I've been worrying all night. Just takes me back to feeling no one likes me no matter how hard I try. Some team managers seem to get away with speaking to their teams more harshly etc. I've tried to be nice and understanding and it's still not good enough.

SoloMummy Thu 21-May-20 07:52:49

Before speaking to the boss, hang fire. That looks like you're guilty of some misdemeanours and you're not.

You say the questions asked were about management. Not line management. That is incredibly significant.

I managed a team of 55. Many had very longstanding gripes about the organisation, from years before when they were tuped. So we're anti management. And I had to get them to be able to differentiate between line management aka me and management per se.

Have you ever had 360 assessments? If not, I'd ask for these to be carried out with your team as they're very specifically about you not the organisation.

Remember, managers are damned if they do and damned if they don't!

Aliceinwonder1 Thu 21-May-20 08:19:41

A lot of the negative comments are about me personally, they've made sure to use wording specifically for me so I know it's their feelings towards me and not upper management. Although they have their gripes with them too but have outlined them in different questions.
I guess the questionnaire is similar to that 360 survey?
I just feel very deflated, like I've got it so so wrong. I didn't see it coming at all, knew they'd have gripes about business but didn't know they all felt this about me. I feel stupid and embarrassed.
My boss is lovely so I just want to give them the heads up as it affects their score as well ultimately. I know my boss will try to phone me to talk and make sure I'm okay but I know I'll end up crying on the phone and I don't want that so would it look awful if I said no to a phone call?

wallywonker Thu 21-May-20 08:28:16

Don't like to give much back
Quite negative with any changes
Barely contribute to meetings
It's hard work

They sound like a great team!

I wouldn't take it personally. You can jump through hoops trying to keep people happy and some will moan regardless.

How are you supporting them? Can you back it up with evidence? Are you holding regular team meetings backed up with minutes/actions (doesn't need to be in great detail).? How about 1:1s? Are they happening regularly. If they have issues with you they need to be raising it at some sort of level so you can address it. If they ask you to solve a problem, are you doing it?

Not saying this is you but it's not enough to um and ah and stroke people's feathers. This is sort of what my new boss is doing. Came in several months ago. Hasn't integrated herself into the team properly but is doing lots of things to appease senior management who are a complete shower of shit. A 1:1 I did have scheduled (by me) never happened because she was off sick. It's never been mentioned again. Lots of other things happenening which makes for a very confusing and unsatisfying experience.

I would speak to your boss though. Say you are confused by the responses, that you thought you supported them well with team meetings, 1:1s, blah, blah. Is there something you are missing? Don't admit blame. They sound like bloody hard work!

wallywonker Thu 21-May-20 08:31:32

Yes, have a phone call with your boss but schedule it and think through what you are going to say. Perhaps have a mini agenda if it helps.

At the end of the day, people can be shits. This is why alpha males end up running the show because they have the skins of rhinos (and generally don't care what staff think of them).

OllyBJolly Thu 21-May-20 08:38:09

Could be a few things going on here.

Firstly, most of the best leaders I know have had something similar happen to them at some point in their careers. They learned from it and moved on.

It's difficult to confront this kind of situation in these unusual times. I would have called everyone together and said I was disappointed to receive the feedback, I want to be the kind of manager they deserve, what am I getting so wrong? You might get honest opinions, you might get some backtracking. But everyone is getting the same message that you are taking it seriously. Not sure how well Zoom works for this kind of session.

I'd then do a "reverse appraisal" with each individual. Where do you feel unsupported? How can I help you do better? Where do I let you down? Is there anything I do well?

Last stage is to go back with the plan. New beginning, describe how communication will work, and how you will set your expectations for their performance just as they have set yours. Management is a job, not a status. You're not more important, but you do have a job to do and want their help to do it well. In return, you'll help them do theirs.

This doesn't mean you are a lousy manager. The fact you are taking it seriously and not making excuses suggests there is a real understanding of what is required and a will to get it right. Many people would have became defensive and looked around for scapegoats.

I'd also ask your boss for honest feedback and perhaps some coaching and support on leadership skills?

Don't let it get you down. Might well be the most useful feedback you'll ever get.

Aliceinwonder1 Thu 21-May-20 19:24:39

Thank you, I like the idea of a reverse survey. Wonder if I can put one together although might be worth me running it past my boss first.
I messaged him today and we've got a meeting booked in week after next to discuss it. I feel embarrassed he's read it but it gives me time to put some proposals in place as to how I can guage how I can change fully.
I do 121s every month, if they ever have to be changed which is rare they will still fall within that month. We have team meetings twice a month. I did try to introduce some more fun things into 1 of them which went down quite well except with 2 people who were really not keen on them which is fair enough. I think I feel disappointed that when we sit and have 121s I specifically always ask the question is there anything you need from me. As blunt as that.
My boss is lovely so I'm not necessarily dreading the meeting just feel I've let him and the rest of the management team down. Along with my team too really.
Thank you all for not piling on and saying I'm just shit though!

wallywonker Fri 22-May-20 06:56:25

Op, don't be so quick to blame yourself. It sounds like you are very aware and having lots of regular meetings/asking the right questions.
It could be just that they don't particularly like you. Perhaps you are not a good fit? It could be that whatever you do isn't right.

Yes, think of a few things you could improve but see what your boss says. You might get in front of her and find that she completely disagrees with what they've said. There's a lot of politics at work and people can be pretty childish IMO.

wallywonker Fri 22-May-20 06:58:13

Also, are you documenting the one to ones? If not, I would be documenting that you asked the question if they needed anything from you/had any comments. If they are not telling you what is wrong then you will never know. You're not a mind reader!

Aliceinwonder1 Fri 22-May-20 07:37:43

I document all the 121s, along with feedback and things like that.
I just feel so crappy about it. Feel no one put anything positive about me which makes me think why bother, why try and change people's hours to help them with childcare or general life things, giving people last minute leave and in some cases time here and there as something major going on (think bereavements, ivf treatment etc), I've been texting some of my team back at 11pm at night because they're really worried about something and I want to try and reassure them. Why bother as apparently I don't speak to them.
It could be they just don't like me but that really does hurt, feel I've spent my whole life being on the outside of every group, never fitting in and now it's even the case at work. If I had any way of getting out I think I'd just pack the job in the way I'm feeling now.

wallywonker Fri 22-May-20 09:37:09

Go though the docs for the 121s and the meetings and just check what you've written. If a member of staff has raised a problem, you've documented it and then solved then their claims aren't really accurate.

I do know what you mean about being on the outside. I've always felt like this too. I've always gone absolutely over and above but been treated pretty shittily a few times. Bizarrely, I have found that caring less is bizarrely better usually. I realise this goes against what you have been doing/the problem at hand!

One thing that has suddenly dawned on me (prompted by a conversation with a friend) is that I have a habit of offering support/advice without being asked. I've done a bit of reading/watching videos about this over the last few days and the overwhelming advice is to only offer your opinion or help if asked otherwise you can look like an interfering know it all. From a psychological point of view, unless someone is actually asking for help they won't appreciate anyway. confused

Perhaps the real problem is that you are actually overly involved and possibly a bit irritating? It's not necessary to be texting staff at 11pm at night. Think of a great leader you aspire to. Perhaps Bill Gates? Can you see him texting his CFO at 11pm at night reassuring him about the share price? Probably not!

wallywonker Fri 22-May-20 09:49:40

Also, care a bit less! This is a good read:

medium.com/learn-unlearn-relearn/why-i-stopped-helping-people-and-you-should-too-36d09d04784c

Aliceinwonder1 Fri 22-May-20 09:57:24

I don't tend to offer advice on personal problems, more just be there to listen and within a working environment offer what I can.. Time off, flexible hours etc.
With regards to the 11pm texting it was one lady who does get very anxious about things and was asking for certain information etc and I didn't feel I could just cut her off. But it was just an example of trying to be there for them, going above and beyond what my hours are etc.
Maybe I do need to care less but then I feel that would backfire too. I don't know what to do. I feel quite stabbed in the back and know I need a thicker skin but it's hard when the comments are personal.

wallywonker Fri 22-May-20 10:08:25

Why don't you just turn it back on them? You have the evidence that you have supported them/solved their problems. The feedback from the survey seems to say otherwise. Why? Why have they not been able to raise their concerns with you. Perhaps they all need some training.

You probably are too nice and need to develop a thicker skin.

www.inc.com/alison-green/how-to-handle-chronic-complainers-on-your-staff.html

Pelleas Fri 22-May-20 12:13:38

Those surveys bring out the worst in people. Then the situation is compounded by senior managers who insist on blaming the team manager for things outside their control (e.g. a poor response to a change in HR policy) on the grounds the team manager isn't motivating the team enough.

I have been in exactly the same position - getting awful responses from people for whom I'd bent over backwards to accommodate and often put my own head on the block arguing with senior managers as to why Colleague A needed a flexible working pattern or Colleague B had a valid reason for underperformance.

The sad thing was that most of these people were lovely to work with - but for some reason chose to vent in the wretched surveys, then when you delved into it with them started airing grievances about things that happened ten years ago before the team even existed.

After three years I'd had enough and applied for an internal vacancy that didn't involve managing a team.

Aliceinwonder1 Sat 23-May-20 08:42:50

It's horrible isn't it. I know people can vent in these surveys and I also know people always remember bad over good. But it still feels shit.
I had started to rethink my path just before the virus hit but now it seems I'm pretty stuck as new jobs aren't going to be easy to come by.
I've started to feel anxious about my meeting with my manager now and still have another week and a bit to wait.

Pelleas Sat 23-May-20 10:24:48

I think going in with a documented action plan would be the best approach - and try to take the initiative in the meeting, go straight in with 'I'd like to run through the areas for improvement in my survey results and the actions I'm taking to address them'.

If your manager starts comparing your results to other teams, rather than getting into a dialogue where he criticises you, suggest instead that you put in a meeting with one of the managers who has got the strongest results where you are weaker so you can learn directly from what they've done.

It really is all bollocks in my opinion and these surveys don't reflect anything about how effective a manager is. They might have some reflection on how popular a manager is, but popular managers aren't always good managers and nor is one's popularity always something one can control (if the gift of popularity was something you could just acquire, everyone would be doing it).

Unfortunately, there's little option but to play the game and make the right noises. Some people thrive on this stuff, others don't. I know many people like me who got out of the team management game and all of us breathe a collective sigh of relief when a new survey is announced that, thank goodness, we don't have to go through that charade again.

Having been on the other side, I never use work surveys to vent now - I always give my manager decent scores!

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