I am the first outside hire they have had in this company in a long time.   When I took the job almost 3 months ago I found out that some of the people who report to me went out for the job as well.   Since I have started I have had a very rough transition.

My boss started to get quite a few complaints about me that weren’t true such as I am intimidating, sleeping in my office and things of that nature.

I have tried to get some small wins by getting feedback to those who didn’t get the job and discussing it with them, getting them better tools to do their jobs etc.

Lately one  very vocal person on the team just started to lash out on me and ignore me.  He has told my co-manager that he doesn’t want to interact with me and prefers that I do not say anything to him.  He currently reports to my co-manager for all operational aspects of his job.  My co-manager suggested this until we can figure something out.

This however doesn’t stop with him as I always find every one on one with my boss there is some new complaint.   I have had meetings with my directs and kept it very friendly.  No foul language…addressing them as Mr.  and Ms..but still they say that I am scary or I am doing things to hurt them.

Most of my direct reports will ask my co-manager for permissions to do things but they won’t ask me unless it’s putting in a time off request so I spend the majority of my day in my office alone.

I feel like a powerless manager as anytime my direct reports disagree with me or don’t get the answer they wish they phone my boss saying that I am scaring them and my boss calls me to discuss it.  It has made me really loose motivation to coach, delegate and direct.

I sit mostly in my office and do my work.   When  everyone packs up to leave they  don’t say good bye to me or just act like I am not there…nor do I bother to say anything as I am fearful my interaction will be labeled as a threat.

I do not have a “sounding board” to discuss these things because if I share how I feel with my co-manager she will share this with my boss.

If I tell my boss how I feel even if it is done very carefully then he will lose even more faith in me and it’s rapidly running out.

It makes me really wonder if I should be here as I have casually started looking for other jobs at this time.

Any advice?

mrreliable's picture

They're afraid of you, you're afraid of them, you can't discuss it with your boss because you're afraid he will lose "even more" faith in you, you're afraid to discuss it with your co-manager.

That's lots of fear going lots of different directions.

Something like "fear" is as difficult to define and deal with as "attitude." There are several podcasts that discuss the importance of dealing with behaviors and outcomes, not motivations. You can clearly identify and define behaviors and outcomes, you can't clearly identify or define exactly what is meant by "fear."

One thing for certain, shutting down communication is not the solution. It's only going to make things worse. If you're afraid to communicate with anyone about these issues, you don't stand a chance of solving them.

In my opinion the first relationships you need to fix are your boss, and your co-manager. From your description they're enabling your directs to engage in disrespectful, resentful, and antagonisitc behavior toward you. I think you need to have a heart-to-heart with your boss and be open to any and all feedback, then request a three-way meeting with the co-manager. They need to give you the tools (authority) to manage your team.

nosurprises3000's picture

Try "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" by Patrick Lencioni. Easy read that you could get through in a few days. It fictional, but could be helpful in your situation.

viola77's picture

Mrreliable gives a spot on analysis of your situation. Fear is compounding everything. Keep building relationships with your team - everyone is in the organisaton to deliver goals/ outcomes . Refusing to speak to someone is not effective and will mean that work is suffering.Take the long view and high road. Talk to your boss and peer manager...ask for support to manage through changes.Good Luck!


mmcconkie's picture

I saw in your prompt that you are having one-on-ones (O3) with your boss. Are you also having them with your directs? You mentioned that you're having meetings with your directs - I just didn't know if this was a staff meeting or a O3. If you are having O3 with your directs, I would suggest calling them by their first name instead of Mr. or Ms. if your corporate culture allows it. That will help you build a more effective relationship with them (of course I am a High I & S, so I may be a little biased). If you hold weekly O3's with your directs, and call them by their first name, it will make it harder for them to hate/fear you because they'll actually know you.

I'm always a fan of keeping your resume warm - but I believe that Mark has an 18 month rule with new jobs. Even if you hate it, and they hate you, give it 18 months to see if you can overcome the problem.

Good luck. Sorry it's been a hard transition. Follow the MT basics, and roll out the trinity on their schedule and I think that everything will work out soon.  

leanne's picture
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Well, I keyed in on something that I don't think anyone else has commented on:

>>addressing them as Mr.  and Ms..but still they say that I am scary or I am doing things to hurt them.

Here's the thing:

If I was addressed as Ms. <lastname> by my manager, I WOULD be scared. Because that's a formality that, at least in the parts of the US that I've lived and worked in, would be a sign that 'I'm in trouble'.

I'd start with the following steps:

1. Address them by their first names, unless *no one* does that in your workplace culture. (See what your co-manager is doing with this.)

2. One-on-ones with your directs if you're not doing those.

3. DON'T do feedback or coaching yet. Those require a deeper relationship than you have - particularly the word 'coaching', which might mean 'I'm in trouble' to someone who doesn't know about MT-style coaching. Follow the Trinity rollout process.

4. If you feel you MUST give feedback, give ONLY POSITIVE feedback. Your relationship is not good enough for them to feel that even the most mild negative feedback is helpful. Regardless, when they do anything at all, say thanks...and mean it.

5. Get your DISC profile if you haven't done it yet, and try to figure out theirs. (*Don't* make them do it yet.) Listen to the Effective Relationships casts for the appropriate styles.

6. I know that to some people it sounds dumb, but really: The Morning Greeting ( *really* *really* could help. You go around, physically, in person, and say good morning to everyone who reports to you, you ask them how they are. That's it. At first this might make them even more paranoid. ('Now what does our manager want??? Well, you can tell them that all you want is to say good morning and make sure they're doing ok.) After a few weeks, they'll get used to it. And they'll eventually miss it if you don't do it.

7. Check your behaviors, especially body language. If they're scared, there's a reason for it. For instance, do you wave your arms around a lot? Some people find that threatening. (_I_ do it when I'm excited - I talk with my hands a lot - and I've had to learn to tone it down.) Do you make sharp, fast gestures, or slower, more flowing ones? Do you raise your voice or get an edge to it? Etc.

8. Ask your boss and/or co-manager, next time there's a complaint that you're scaring them, 'did they say what i did that scared them? I'm wondering if I'm communicating poorly and they're getting the idea that I'm annoyed when I'm not because of something I'm doing that they aren't interpreting the way I would.'

Pon's picture

Hey guys, 

I thought I would give an update on what has happened since this post.  I decided to stop being "scared".

Scared of my team.     

            I confronted this by going out and talking to my guys often.  Checking in on them as to how they are doing.  No more calling them by their last names such as “Mr. Peabody” or “Ms. David”.  I use their first names and definitely look them in the eye.  Ask how they are doing and I do “intelligent listening”.  I started really building relationships and understanding them…it surprised the hell out of me when they started coming by my office to chit chat and one of them sent a really good email to my direct boss praising me for backing them in a really hard situation with one of our clients.

Scared of my co-worker manager.

            My co-worker manager who runs a team next to mine is a very very anti-social woman.  She is very smart and capable but just can come off as really harsh.  Harsh enough that getting feedback from her on how I am doing was just “demoralizing” to me.  So I decided to do three things on this…

1.    I took my “fear” and chucked it aside as I can learn from her since she knows the business.

            2.    I started to make other allies in the company and I met two really great guys who are aware of my on-boarding issues and have helped me tremendously.  In turn they have introduced me to other people which has really bolstered my confidence.

3.    I get feedback from her and I digest it…I use it and no longer feel it’s a putdown.  Sure she can be much more gentle when giving it but who cares…I am getting it.

Scared of the new environment that I am in. 

            I started making friends and really understanding the “culture” of where I work.  “Officially and Unofficially”.    This really has helped in understanding what type of people work there and how they communicate as well…I got a LOT of history of my company and the company that merged with us so there are two “types” of personalities that go on there.

I took a step back and realized in taking this job I wasn't set up for success at all.   I am an outside hire which is pretty uncommon for where I work.  I also have people who interviewed for the job that I am in who report to me directly.  This only has caused "friction" with one person on my team which is on-going as he is pretty negative, vocal, and explosive.   I do my One on One’s once a month with another meeting with my guys to get deliverables on tasks I have given them or things they can work on.

I haven’t given feedback per say as I don’t feel I am there with them yet.  I have 2 problem children on my team which I have been listening to the podcasts this week to get an idea of how to approach them.

1.     I have someone on my team who won’t talk to me and avoids me.  He is a very explosive, foul-mouthed, and really borderline rude especially with management.  I talked to my boss about his “avoidance” and my boss has my back as I have to bring him back to the “flock”.  I will be talking with him Monday and just establishing open dialogue…and what my expectations are as he has to respond to my emails and we have to have O3’ I have to do my job as a manager…and I am not going anywhere.

            2.    The second person likes to test new managers and thinks he is smarter than everyone else.  I wrote him up for falsifying work recently and he also is quite a smart ass.  I am looking to start coaching with him but before that..I want to digest the podcast..use the model and let my boss know what I am going to do..then I will start coaching so I can manage this person up and out.  

So I stopped being afraid and I signed up here...I really listen to the podcasts to get an idea of where I am's very very helpful and I know I can do well in my job.  It's 4 months in but a start is better than no start...and I feel much more confident now that I am seeing some response from my team.

mrreliable's picture

Great news! It's fun to hear the story of how building relationships has improved things and how. From your description it sounds like you may have walked into an environment that was fairly disfunctional to begin with. Good job! Keep us posted.

leanne's picture
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Congratulations! (I just saw your follow-up post.) That's fantastic that you're doing so well. It's amazing how well it works - only a few short weeks and you're already doing so much better with them that they'd praise you to your boss.

Good luck with the two hold-outs. Keep it up with everyone and you'll do great.