I manage a team of 10 remote sales professionals. Overall all 10 are strong performers. I consider myself a good boss and apply the MT management philosophy. My top directs would agree directly and by anonymous survey calling me firm but fair.
I have two directs that do a pretty good job, but can be very cynical and critical. Ironically they are highly critical of me, but cannot accept constructive feedback I provide them. I have strongly suspected for some time that they frequently conspire and make negative comments about me behind my back. I just received feedback from outside our department that they are also doing so outside of our team. I believe they take offense to deadlines and my holding them accountable.
My company just completed an anonymous employee survey. 7 of 10 directs responded. In general, 5 responded good to great in all categories and 2 were very negative especially when discussing me.
I am curious on the best way to handle the follow-up meeting. My first reaction was to call them out (individually beforehand) but realize that would be unprofessional and thwart the process intended by the company. I truly believe their comments to be unjust and intentionally malicious. Our team gets together 4x/year and I believe the the rest of our team will be shocked when they see it too. The two negative employees sometimes bring one other person into their mix, but otherwise their negativity has not spread and the rest of our team is very positive so I do not believe it will.
I want to be careful not to come across as defensive or totally ignoring their comments, but somehow defend myself showing the fact that our group is polarized, but the majority responding favorably to extremely favorably.
I intend to provide the two negative employees feedback about their non-professional behavior, but after this has blown over so as not to appear I am on a witch hunt.
Any thoughts or help would be greatly appreciated.