Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Management F**kwittery

I had a bit of a rough day in work today!!

I was in a meeting with my direct report, Jay, and he asked me to stay behind a few minutes after a meeting with a client to ask my advice about lunch meetings he'd been invited to over the next couple of days with my manager, Ryan, and his manager, the head of the division, Daniel.

"Yeah, it's really weird, they both invited me to lunch independently, so I have lunch with Ryan today and then Daniel tomorrow."


I knew not a sausage about either invitation and said as much to Jay.

"Well I think with Tessa resigning they just wanted to check in with me and talk to me about my career, so I wanted to ask your advice. Obviously Ryan knows that I am planning to do a part-time MBA, but do you think it would be okay to mention that in a few years I'd like to work abroad?"

Absolutely!! I didn't see why he should keep his future intentions a secret, especially as the agency network is big enough to make that to happen for him. He's is a real asset to the department, so I hoped that the powers that be would bend over backwards to accommodate his request. I know all about the benefits of being transparent about future intentions, since if I hadn't shouted from the rooftops that I was interested in working in New York then I wouldn't be here.

So that was all fine....however...

...I couldn't help but have this nagging feeling about the fact that neither Ryan or Daniel had mentioned anything about these lunch meetings to me. Not that I have a problem with the senior managers taking my team members out to lunch to chat to them about whatever they want to, but I did feel weird about the fact that they hadn't said something to me in advance. It all just felt a little too secretive.

"I'm sure it's just to chat to me about my career aspirations what with Tessa leaving" said Jay.

Hmmm...but then what if Tessa said something about me that was less than positive in her exit interview? I mean we've just had 360 reviews and that was fine, but that doesn't mean....that's what happened with Kenny afterall, he had 3 team members leave in quick succession and all of them made negative comments about his management style in their exit interviews. Of course a bunch of clients also complained about the quality of his work, which I don't think has been the case with me, but....what if.....what if I was next for the Kenny treatment???


To be honest I try my very best as a manager and I pride myself on at least trying to do a good job. Megan has said several times that she thinks I am the only manager that really gives a shit about her team and I think that has a lot to do with the fact that my friends Miles and Kimberley were great examples of good managers for me, but I've had my share of bad ones too, so I feel I have enough of a sense about what I like and dislike in managers and where I can I try to emulate their style with my team, however I'm also upfront about the fact that I've had no formal management training and that it's a learning curve for me, so any feedback from my direct reports is always appreciated, because one person's supportive manager is another person's micro-manager so while I try my best to be the former who knows if someone is perceiving me as being the latter if they don't say anything.

Unfortunately these thoughts festered for a while and even though I had no real cause for concern, at least that I was aware of, I wasn't feeling at all good about my team member being invited to lunch without my having received a heads up, especially as it didn't appear to be a department wide initiative, more that a valued team member of mine was being singled out.

It really didn't help that when Ryan came over to let Jay know he was ready he didn't come right to our desks, but rather came halfway down the department and gave a half cock of his head to let Jay know he was ready to go.

It all just felt a little too secretive for my liking!!

Paranoid, or justified?? I mean I would have labelled Kenny as paranoid, but then I saw how that went down and yup....people WERE actually talking about him behind his back, he wasn't just imagining things, so what if.....nooooo surely my managers would talk to me first about any issues. Surely they wouldn't go straight to my team members...would they??? Well, not unless they were after collecting evidence...

Double ugh!!!

"Just take the direct approach," advised Debs, "email Ryan and ask him if you have reason to be worried."

Good idea!!

"Hey Ryan, do I have cause to be concerned that Jay is having lunch with both you and Daniel over the next couple of days?"

Hours response.

More hours passed....still no response!!

Even more hours passed....



Productivity went out of the window as I became more and more concerned (paranoid?) about Ryan's lack of response to my note.

Jay came back...he said nothing. I didn't feel it was my place to pry as to how his lunch had gone.

The afternoon was a little on the tense side as internally I started freaking out and I got slightly tearful in the bathroom on a couple of occasions!!

Fuck this for a game of soldiers. Why the hell would I go the extra mile and work late after this??? Why the fuck am I staying in New York to be treated this way???

Seriously, was I being completely paranoid?

I IM'd with Debs and Megan who agreed that the whole situation seemed weird and not in a good way.

The 'fuck it, just move to California' buzzing I've been experiencing of late got REALLY loud!!

"I'd hate for you to leave, but if you do move to California can you put in a good word for me with your landlord for your apartment" said Debs

Ha!! New Yorkers!!!

I was so distracted by the whole affair that cancelled a late afternoon meeting with Jay and left at 5pm with a deliverable hanging in the balance - much to the astonishment of my team. Leaving at 5pm is something I haven't done in at least 2years, much less with a deliverable due, but I really wasn't in the mood to 'go the extra mile' as I usually do, I was so upset at the whole underhandedness of Ryan's approach - and walked home through the park.

5minutes from home I received call from Jay, although I couldn't bring myself to answer, I was too upset to talk. I listened to his message about an hour later, the upshot being that he'd noticed I was upset and wanted to reassure me that he wasn't resigning - God forbid - and that he had the impression that Ryan had just wanted to check in with certain members of the team, but he'd had nothing but good things to say about me as a manager.

Bless him, I felt really bad that I'd caused him alarm, but to be honest I wasn't too worried about what Jay would say, or even that he'd met with Ryan, it was just the whole sneakiness of the meeting that pissed me off. Had Ryan just been upfront, or even offered a convincing lie I wouldn't have been the least concerned, but Ryan does have a soft spot for the sneaky approach. He seems to think that because he doesn't notice what goes on on the department the rest of us won't either, but he couldn't be more wrong. He also seems to be of the impression that he's really good at being discrete, but he's as transparent as Wiley Coyote hiding from Roadrunner behind a twig.

Megan called shortly afterward to say that Jay had come over to ask for my phone number and said he was very concerned that he'd upset me. Bless!! I wasn't upset at him at all and Megan said she had explained that it was Ryan who was the real target of my wrath.

8pm....a mere 8hours after my initial email to Ryan - who can I just point out had been present in the office since 2pm!! - I receive the following response to my earlier email...

"Noooo, it's been on the calendar for weeks"

Yeah, right. He's such a liar!! He does that all the time, he tries to glibly smooth things over, but he's so obvious. I responded by saying that if by being secretive about the lunch his intention had been to encourage me to update my resume and reconsider my current position then he could consider his day a success!!

After the afternoon I'd had I was of a mind to let him freak out about his retention bonus being in jeopardy!!

Too harsh??

Fuck it!!


Amel said...

Oh dear...what a mess! It was such a torturing day for you. :-((('s completely normal for you to act the way you did, though...oh dear...

But yeah, bless Jay's soul indeed!!!

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Amel, yes it was a pretty unpleasant day and all for nothing really. I'm so annoyed with my manager about this, I'm rethinking my job.

Kitty said...

oh boy!

People are weird. Not everyone is cut out for being a manager and most people have zero clue about how they come across.

I think men (here I'm going to be sexist) are a bit more clueless than women. Women, generally pick up on what's going on around them, and their intuitions are usually correct.

This fellow's actions are nothing at all about you. He had a thought and executed said thought. Didn't think about his impact on his team. I think it's a shortcoming that is quite common. People have very different styles of operation.

I hope you can take some time and distance from this, Fish. I can understand feeling shaken up.

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Thanks Kitty, I have a bit more perspective now that some time has passed and I think you are spot on with your comment sexist or not. I do know some great male managers who are aware of what is going on with their team, but they are few and far between. I do think women have the edge in that respect.