Forums

I would like to say that this is my first time posting. Though I've listened to manager tools for the last 6 years, I would never consider myself a "Manager Tools Manager." I would however like to thank the Manager tools crew, because without them I don't think I would have made it to where I have.

I am an Assistant Manager for a major corporate used retail/loan company. This was my second job, and I've been with the company for almost 8 years at a total of 7 stores. I currently work at a location that has 6 employes, Me, my manager and 4 directs. I have worked with my current manager and one direct for 2 years, the other 3 directs vary from 6-months to a year.  To make a long story short, over the course of 2 years I have managed to lose 5 employes and have utterly destroyed team morale and their respect of me. I have my excuse of" I felt My manager was failing to their job of training, coaching, providing feedback to our employees. I personally took on that responsible. So, they didn't like me because I was making them work" It's what I told myself to sleep at night and not have to face the real problem. Well the problem final came to a head. I felt the environment I was working in was to a point of not recovering. And I made the mistake of informing my Manager that something needed to be done. Good news something got done. Her boss came in, interviewed all the employees and then sat down with me and my manger to discuss his "concerns." What it boils down to is our employees don't respect me. They don't think I do enough, nitpick, and am causing the team to be divided.

I was told I have 30 days to fix this, or I will be looking for a new job. I know my mistake I was to hard on our employees I gave far to much negative feedback and never enough positive. I often forwarded Issues I saw with them to my manager to handle and this amplified them.

My question is: "Is it possible for me to correct this in 30 days"

The plan I have is simple. Positive Feedback. Nothing but Positive Feedback. Finding ways to tell them they are doing a great job and consistently bombarding them with praise. They are all great employees and if they weren't all against me the store would be amazing. I can say this because the store is often praised as being one of the nicest store in our area. I would love to be apart of this team if we were all working together. Is there anything else I can do. I feel I should sit down with each and everyone of them and explain why things have been the way they were and what I'm going to do differently. Would this unite them against me? or help us as a team? I haven't got any guidance from my manager or "god" that I could implement. I was basically told If I wait for that I'm going to fail. So, what does everyone think?

-Donald

rgosden's picture

To be very blunt:

The odds of salvaging the situation in only a month are low. To have any hope of success you need have the correct goal,  and that goal probably isn't what you think.  Your goal is *not* to turn your team around,  get them to respect you or be more productive. Your goal has to be showing your manager that you have the potential to be an effective manager and are taking positive steps toward achieving that potential.  You need to determine the top two or three things your manager cares about and focus on those things. 

Good book to read: http://www.amazon.com/The-First-Time-Manager-Loren-Belker/dp/0814408214

As an additional note: your post here was very badly written. Yes,  this is the Internet. Yes, you are stressed out.  However,  the lack of clarity is an irritant and reduces the likelihood of people being interested in helping. Am I being harsh?  Perhaps.  But one of the key qualities of a good manager is the ability to communicate clearly at all times.

Rick

mrreliable's picture

Is it possible to correct this in 30 days? Yes, it's possible to correct it immediately, but you need to identify what needs correcting.

The "Nothing but Positive Feedback" approach is not going to earn anyone's respect. That's passive aggressive, and a little snide.

Unfortunately, it fits with the "if they weren't all against me the store would be amazing."

Why wouldn't you ever consider yourself a Manager Tools Manager?

It's good that you recognize your accountability in destroying team morale and losing respect among your your co-workers. The problem is that, even through significant communication with your manager and your manager's boss, you've missed whatever core problems they've been trying to impress upon you. You say you haven't got any guidance from your manager. To be honest, that's hard to believe. Are you sure you're not selectively listening?

I can see one potential serious problem from your post. "I felt My manager was failing to their job of training, coaching, providing feedback to our employees. I personally took on that responsible." I don't mean to pile on, but you're an assisstant manager, right? Is it your role to evaluate your manager's performance and step in to save the day when you judge your manager's performance to be a fail? Yes, I can see that creating animosity all around the shop. Pick a person you work with who does not have authority over you and imagine how quickly you'd bristle if that person strutted up to you and started giving you orders.

I'll take a wild guess that you've bestowed a lot of authority upon yourself that is not inherent in your position. My advice would be to speak with your manager and their boss again, and settle once and for all what your role is and what your authority is. Go in with an attitude that you're going to back off and do what an assistant manager does, which is figuring out what the manager wants and helping make that happen.

 

D.Hastings's picture

Thank you both for the advice/feedback.

I will agree with everything that was said.  I wish it was not true, but that will not change anything. Just as MrReliable said "you've bestowed a lot of authority upon yourself that is not inherent in your position." Looking back, I can see my mistake. I often thought I was "running the store for my manager." When I should have been "helping my manager to run the store." I worked next to my manager at another shop where we were both Assistants. I felt at the time I should of been promoted. Maybe, I'm still jealous of my managers success and because of that I tried to run the store my way. Obviously this has led me to where I am.

I understand now that I need to stop looking at the store as mine. It is clearly my managers. When I first started with the company I would start each day by asking "What's the plan for today?" Today having thought back on the guidance I refused to listen to. I asked "What are the glass balls for today?" I know I should not have to ask. I've been an Assistant for 2-3 years now. I should know. If I'm going to make it through this I want to be sure I'm prioritizing the right things. I plan on doing this until I can suggest what they are.

I don't intend positive feedback to be "passive aggressive, and a little snide." I know they are all good employees and they didn't deserve the negative feedback I had gave them. I want to make up for it. I know my "intentions" aren't going to do any good. I plan on sitting down one on one and explaining why. I can not stop giving feedback. That is a core responsibility. My plan of giving 100% positive feedback failed almost immediately. I managed only one negative feedback, but I could tell it wasn't what the individual wanted to hear. I gave four different positive feedback and they were very thankful for them. To be honest they were almost in shock. Also prior to leaving for the day I thanked the directs for working with me today.

Today was an easy day though both directs were more favorable to me then the two who were off. Friday will be a challenge because I'll be working with all four.I also plan on having a meeting with each team member that day. Saturday will be even harder because the manager will be off. I've been told I act differently when the managers way. So, I need to be extra careful on those days.

So, my plan, as I see it everyday is start each day off by making sure I know what the glass ball tasks are. Consistently providing positive feedback. Avoid negative feedback unless it truly is important. Prior to each employee leaving I plan to let them know how appreciative I am of the opportunity to work with them.
 

"Why wouldn't you ever consider yourself a Manager Tools Manager?"

I simply don't pass the test. I was unable to communicate with my employees in a way that consistently built a relationship of trust. I failed to identify the needs of my manager. Don't get me wrong I want to be. I'm just not there, yet.

Rick, Is it my sentence structure, pargraph structure, or am I just adding too many unnecessary items?

rgosden's picture

Sorry for the brevity here....  tapping on a  virtual keyboard makes for slow typing. 

The second paragraph of your orignal post appears to a stream of consciousness dump.  Would have been be much better if you had structured it differently, and perhaps more concisely.  You'r second post is much better...  one more and you'll have a trend of improvement. :) 

You seem to be stuck on giving feedback as the key to success.  I disagree,  at least for the short term. Right now you need to establish your competence.  For feedback to work you need to have people thinking of you as genuine and helpful and not as an impediment to them doing their work.  So,  going back to my original observation: You need to focus on ensuring that you are doing things that matter to your manager and that can be seen by him (her?). As a suggestion: get your team together.  As a group determine the top two or three things the team has to accomomplish each day and a simple way to measure each accomplishment. Supposed to ship 90 pct of orders on time? Track it.  Planograms updated? Track it.  You will need to pick things that are measured daily or weekly... you don't have the luxury of thinking longer term.  Then each day meet with your team,  review yesterday's results,  today's objectives. If things went well: awesome,  high five all around,  whatever is suitable for the group. If things are bad,  watch the trend. If you get two or three days in a row trending down challenge the team to come up with a solution, and then facilitate the discussion. You will then have data to share with your manager on your team's performance,  and you and your team will have been working together on a common set of goals. 

Hopefully someone else here will chime in and poke holes in my advice as needed,  but in my experience having a shared set of objectives and working on them as a team is the foundation for success. 

Rick

 

 

mrreliable's picture

You seem to be on the verge of solving this, but just when you're about to put your finger on the solution, you veer off the road again.

 "I often thought I was running the store for my manager. When I should have been helping my manager to run the store."

That's certainly how things appeared.

"I understand now that I need to stop looking at the store as mine. It is clearly my managers."

O.K. Good. Problem understood. You're nine tenths of the way to finding a solution.

But wait...

" I can not stop giving feedback. That is a core responsibility."

You just finished saying your job is to help your manager, then you immediately revert to what you feel you need to do as a manager. Did your manager tell you that you must not stop giving feedback, that it's a core responsibility? I doubt it. You need to focus on what your manager wants you to do, not what you determine you "need" to do, or what you determine is a core responsibility.

"Today was an easy day though both directs were more favorable to me then the two who were off."

Here's another issue. Are these people really your directs? Or are they your manager's directs. I haven't seen anything in your description saying, "My manager has placed me in a position of authority over these employees, and has directed me to provide feedback," etc. You're an assistant manager. You need to figure out what your manager wants you to do, not what you think is necessary to make the operation run at peak efficiency. Who told you specifically that these employees were under your authority and you were responsible for training and management?

"I also plan on having a meeting with each team member that day."

Did your manager ask you to have a meeting with each team member that day, or is this just another case of you deciding what needs to be done and going forward with it?

"So, my plan, as I see it everyday is start each day off by making sure I know what the glass ball tasks are. Consistently providing positive feedback. Avoid negative feedback unless it truly is important. Prior to each employee leaving I plan to let them know how appreciative I am of the opportunity to work with them."

I'm not trying to beat you up, but I feel like screaming now. You're right back to talking about "your" plan. The problem from your original post seemed to be, as I said, that you've bestowed a lot of authority upon yourself that is not inherent in your position. You seemed to acknowledge that. Then you go right back into what your plan is.

My suggestion to you for turning this around is to stop thinking you have any answers. You need to become a good listener. Stop thinking "My plan this, my plan that," and start thinking, "What can I do to make my manager's life easier at work?" Stop thinking of the employees as your directs. From your description of what's going on, I'd bet they're not your directs, and treating them like they are is the core of the problem. Being an assistant manager doesn't put you in charge of anything or anyone, other than specific, well-defined tasks given you by the manager. If you open up your eyes and ears and start observing and listening, that's when the real power will manifest itself.

D.Hastings's picture

Basicly, I should stop thinking of myself as a assistant MANAGER and focus on being an Assistant to the manager. 

I geuss I made this alot harder then it should have been. Thank you for your help.

-Donny
 

Smacquarrie's picture

As an assistant manager in retail environment, you are learning about the different aspects it takes to run your own store.
This does not mean that you are any more responsible for output than any other employee, only for those items that your manager has put you in charge of.
It does mean that you should be able to fulfill any tasks that your manager normally would for day to day operations in the event of their absence.
You begin to learn what it means to open and close (counting the money, making deposits, stocking, merchandising, etc).
Occasionally you may be put in charge of a small section of the inventory to ensure proper counting.
You have no authority over employees and are able to act as a mediator in the event that your manager is unavailable.
You need to build relationships in 2 directions here, you need both your co-workers (not directs) and your manager to trust you to get the right things done.
If you are in sales, you should be able to help the other employees to understand how to best focus their efforts to achieve the desired results.
If you are in a service environment, you should be able to step in and help direct the flow to take care of your customers. This means understanding the strengths, weaknesses, and areas of opportunity that your manager has identified for each employee. You then help them to develop those areas and skills.

As for earlier comments, prior to pressing the "send" button, stop and read (out loud) what you have written, the way it is written.
See how it sounds to you and imagine how you would feel if your worst enemy had sent that to you.
Does it need a re-write? If so, then do it.
Repeat until it comes across with the correct tone and information.
I did notice minor grammar and spelling issues which you should have caught. Try to keep your emotions under control as you work through the next 28 or so days and pay more attention to HOW you say things than what you say. Notice your body language, mannerisms, and tone of voice.
Above all, please remember that you are not in charge. Ever.

Please continue to reach out to this group for help and information and let us know how it all turns out.

Mac

nickdds's picture

Been lurking here for a while and I'm curious....

 

Whatever happened?

D.Hastings's picture

At end of the 30 day period. The 2 employees I was having the most problems with left the company a week before the deadline. When the DM came to do his round of interviews the store moral had shifted for the better. I could not say 100% I had contributed to the improvment or the loss of the two employees did. Neither could the DM. I was given a 30 day continuation and was told I should not have anything to worry about. 30+ days later I have not spoke again with him as other issues have taken his time up.