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Long time lurker, first time poster.

Our sales manager is a highly opinionated, highly compensated High "I/D". This person believes she should have decision making power over production, i.e., procedural issues within my dept. among other things. Normally I take her comments/complaints/criticisms for what they are and feed the information back into my communication with my people.

Last week, a machine operator (my D.R.) was having a quality problem. The job she was having a problem with, of course, was owned by the SM. The job ended up being late because of the quality issue- all sides are frustrated. The job was rejected by the SM, who believes my DR "should" have caught the quality problem earlier in the production run, now it's late, and here's where it blows up.

At a community lunch/BBQ for the tenants of the building (I was away from the office on a client call), the SM decides to use that opportunity to announce that "they {our dept.} have 4 machines and 3 operators and they still can't get their sh*t together!" Pretty much inappropriate, but not out of character.

My DR takes this personally. Later in the day, same job with QC problem, she's redoing the job. Job instructions are written incorrectly, which is the root cause of the QC problem. My DR refuses to allow a CSR to change the job instructions and create a new ticket because she wants me to see it when I get back. I have specifically asked my people to do this. The CSR (who works for the sales manager and is compensated extra for that SM's work on a quasi-commision structure) is now offended. Elevates the issue to her manager, the SM. Nothing gets done. Later in the afternoon, as my DR is going home, she notices that the back window of her car has been broken in our parking lot.

The DR IMMEDIATELY jumps to the conclusion that one or another of these people with whom she's having a conflict has broken her window. Hmmm... It could have been a natural phenomenon like severe wind, which we did have that day, or random vandalism, etc.

I get to work the next day and I have to deal with this chaos all day. I'm behind in my own work, and ended up calling our 3rd party HR firm to help me figure this out. HR suggests a mediation, now the SM is going to hunt me down and kill me.

What to do? I am open to any suggestions...

Mark's picture

My, my. Lots of drama.

First off, I would console your direct for her loss regarding the car, and let it go as an issue in this situation. Even if it WAS related, I doubt you're going to get there with an investigation. Of course, if you stumble upon the answer, and have proof of retributive vandalism, FIRE whomever did it so fast the whole organization's head spins.

Regarding the rest:

Visit with your direct and go over what happened and how she and you can do better on the next run. Talk about following the procedures, and when to deviate, and how to handle things like this going forward.

Do this first, so you can gather the data for your next meeting, with the Sales Manager.

Meet with the Sales Manager. Apologize for the failure to meet her needs. Describe what you've done to fix the immediate need, and what happened that caused the systemic problem, along with what you'll do going forward.

And, if you feel that there's a platform for it, give her feedback on her BBQ statement. Use the peer feedback model.

She DOES NOT run your department. All her drama is HERS. How she feels is HER fault. You're not responsible for how she feels, and I recommend you stay away from characterizing her feelings, emotions, or outbursts. (The feedback is simply that when she says derogatory things like... in front of your team and others, it degrades morale, and reduces future effectiveness and teamwork...)

Stay frosty. It's not about the drama. It's about future behaviors.

Mark

lazerus's picture

Hi Mark,
Thanks so much for that reply. I will be having these meetings tomorrow and I'll let you know how this goes! Thanks again.