I have no idea where to begin with this post, so at the beginning of the story sounds like a good place. I've been working at my current job for almost two years now. I'm a white-collar worker who's now, for the first time, working for a primarily blue-collar manufacturing firm. When I asked my original boss, the department director, what was his original motivation for hiring me as the manager, he said that in light of the growth the company was experiencing, he needed someone mature "on the ground" to manage the supervisory-type work. He knew the person that currently worked there was not a fit for this role. I accepted the role and began building an IT department where one did not exist before.
I've received two good performance reviews along with merit increases and good bonuses. I've had my share of newbie manager mistakes, but I try to learn from them. My team likes the way I manage. One team member informed me that he rates me as one of the best managers he's had (he's been in IT more than 10 years). I respect him alot and take that as high praise. So, what's the problem, right? My point exactly.
Last week, my boss schedules a meeting to discuss my "performance issues" (note: this is a different person than the one who hired me, but that's another story). I didn't know I had performance issues. Just last month I received a very good review stating how well I was doing over the past year. Why then, three weeks later, there are now issues? The gist of the problem revolved around complaints supposedly directed to our HR department over the past untold number of months that I was difficult to work with, that when someone asked the IT department for help I would tell them no, that I was unappreciative of the benefits provided to me by the company and that I have been overheard bad-mouthing the company to my direct reports. In short, I had an attitude problem. I was speechless (and that's a rare event indeed)! I immediately stumbled and stammered trying to defend myself against such accusations, but I don't think quickly when caught off-guard like that. I didn't know what to say or do.
So, the next day I informally asked my internal clients in my location (we have two offices in this city) if they were experiencing, or had experienced lately, any problems with communicating or receiving help from the IT department. All shook their heads "no". Next, I visited my local HR rep and asked her if I have any emails in my file complaining about me. She said all she had was a copy of my last performance review and my merit increase. Hmm, so no emails to HR? No one in my office has any complaints? From where do these accusations stem? I have an idea, but supposedly the information being used against me is "anonymous feedback". Thus, I don't even get a chance to rebut the evidence or face my accusers. And now, to top off this experience, I'm scheduled for a "performance action plan" which I interpret as saying "follow these steps or you're fired!"
The entire way this issue has been handled goes so entirely against the grain of all that I've learned about how to manage from the manager-tools site that I'm at a loss on how to recover my wits and my career at this company. It reeks of a politically-motivated attack from someone that either sees me as a threat or that I pissed off and wants me gone. I don't know how to defend myself against non-quantifiable, non-behavioral, unspecific "attitude" problem accusations. In my opinion, the evidence I was presented is circumstantial, cobbled together from months of disparate events to give the appearance of a pattern of "poor attitude".
I need help making sense of what's happened and how I can handle the situation professionally and with dignity.