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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.

kevdude's picture

From what you are saying, it sounds to me as if your new boss (and perhaps his boss) may be a part of the "conspiracy". The fact that he is taking just one person's "anonymous" complaints as an excuse for a performance management program, and the fact that HR seems to be supporting it, means that it's a sign that there is an atttempt to squeeze you out. It shows that the company you are working for lacks the courage to take a balanced approach when it comes to politics. There may be more to the picture - does your company really want the IT department to survive? There could be business reason to veil the reason for its failure, and pushing you out may be the first step. Also from what you are saying, having an IT dept. in a blue collar environment may not mix well.

Manager Tools seems to be more about managing - not politics - but definitely you can gleen quite a bit about politics from this site.

It sounds like you may need to check your network and keep an eye out for another job. Also in the meantime it would be best to keep delivering, and go along with the so-called "performance action plan" to the best of your ability until things either improve or you have found another job. In a way you are being bullied, there are certain laws against that but I don't believe you have a solid case based on what you are saying.

Anyway that's my take on this, I am curious what others have to say - you posted this a few days ago and it sounds like you could use some help right now!

Either way, try to be cheerful and leave all it behind when you leave the workplace. Good luck.

jhack's picture

Ah, politics...

Don't know how familiar you are with the M-T ouevre (particularly "jump starting better relations" and "managing your boss"). You should employ those techniques. If those are new to you, they might be too late.

You hint at knowing who and why. Your boss is in cahoots. You believe HR is motivated to be part of this conspiracy.

Apologies for suggesting this: many firms are culturally biased towards giving good reviews regardless of actual performance (despite it being cowardly, ineffective, and grounds for lawsuits). Maybe your performance isn't good. And this is how they deal with it.

Assuming this is political, one gets caught in such a web for a reason. Motives might be:
- Someone else wants your job.
- Someone is trying to erode your boss's power.
- Cost cutting is taking place, and they don't want it to look like cost cutting.
- ...etc...

The answer to the motivation question (which you hint at knowing) will help you decide what to do.

So you have three choices:
- Fight it. Tough road, could get ugly.
- Suck it up. Apologize, insist that you will make it better, and focus on serving well the person behind it.
- Begin working on your exit strategy. Network, resume, you know...

Please let us know how things are going. Unfortunately, if they have it in for you, you're likely to be out of there.

John

BJ_Marshall's picture

[quote="jhack"]So you have three choices:
- Fight it. Tough road, could get ugly.
- Suck it up. Apologize, insist that you will make it better, and focus on serving well the person behind it.
- Begin working on your exit strategy. Network, resume, you know...
[/quote]

I would add that these three choices are not mutually exclusive. Begin working on your exit strategy WHILE also either fighting it or sucking it up.

I'm curious what would happen if you asked HR/management to conduct a 360-degree review of you. Clearly, it sounds like everyone not involved in the conspiracy would give you accolades while the politically-charged minority provides unsubstantiated harsh criticism.

Best of luck, and keep us posted.
BJ

US41's picture

I agree with the previous posters up to a point. You are obviously under someone thumb and being pressurized for a purpose. Possibly you have a job someone else wants or wants for a close friend of theirs. Maybe you have built the IT dept, and now they want one of their own to take it over since the hard planning and execution is over. Maybe you are secretly reviled and someone has ambushed your boss. Maybe maybe maybe.

Their motivations and intentions are irrelevant to you. The facts as they stand are:

* A conversation about your performance is coming
* You have been unsuccessful in your investigation to discover the root cause
* You are not aware that you have performed poorly
* You recently received a good review

You were previously offered three choices:

* Fight
* Surrender
* Retreat

I think those are valid choices... but I'm not sure you have to choose. What if we do all three of these at once?

[b]RETREAT[/b]

* Update your MT resume
* Study the interviewing series and develop a job-finding action plan
* Update your wardrobe if necessary
* Start reaching out for job opportunities.

Get the ball rolling on your next job. Pack a parachute and prepare to jump. Before you jump, however, let's first try to regain control of the aircraft through a strategy of fighting that appears like surrender

[b]SURRENDER AND FIGHT[/b]

1. Prepare for the meeting about your performance:
- Print out copies of your review for everyone who will attend.
- Make a list of your accomplishments while you have been there (verb + task + date completed + planned date)
- Make a list of the people you reached out to in advance of the meeting and quote back what they said about your performance. "I'm not aware of any performance issues. - Joe in HR"

2. During the meeting, open by making a statement. "I understand the purpose of this meeting is to review issues with performance in the IT dept. I am very interested to hear about any opportunities for development we have. My plan is to hear about any complaints, specify those complaints down to actionable tasks, and then develop a schedule for resolving each of those issues with assignments and dates."

3. Have a pen and paper handy (not a laptop) and ask them to list the complaints. Do not ask who is complaining. You will either be refused (which makes you look weak) or lied to (which will just hurt your feelings and raise your emotional level and again make you look weak). Remember that the purpose of some of these confrontations is to provoke. Do not provoke. Keep very flat emotionally and keep your voice low and smile under control. Make a list of the issues.

4. Ask to review the list of issues. You want to reverse engineer the feedback model. "IT Dept says no a lot." Ask some valid questions until you either have feedback or have exposed the complaint as being bogus through your helpful and energetic attempts to resolve all issues for the good of the company. ;-) Examples:

- "The first issue is the IT dept or myself saying no a lot. Do we have any specific examples? How frequently has this happened? Specifically, how many times in the last month? Do we have any dates we can put around that? My overarching concern is that we not allow a single instance of a valid and polite decline to engage on a particular task be embellished into "They say no all the time" generalization. Do we have that data?"

They will not have that data. You will diminish the appearance of the complaint.

"I really need documentation of when this happened and what the circumstances were in order to differentiate between valid complaints and emotional reactions to good business decisions. I want to help and make things better, but I need more to work with. Can I get a list of specific instances?"

Also drive for behaviors. "You have an attitude problem." "I am very sorry if anyone has drawn that conclusion about me. I am excited to change my behaviors to not create opportunities for people to draw that conclusion. Can you provide any examples of specific behaviors I have engaged in? Facial expressions, quotes of things I said, body language I gave, or volume or speed of speech? I cannot change my behavior if I don't know what it is they are keying on."

They will not have behaviors, because if they provide them, the complaint will be diminished. But they will want to provide something, because if they have nothing, again, they appear diminished.

5. Once you are done with the list of issues and each of the complaints have been resolved down to rumor, unethical eavesdropping on partial conversations taken out of context, or some minor behavior you can easily change, ensure that you summarize all of this at the end of the meeting. "Before we wrap up, I'd like to review my action items to ensure that all of these issues are addressed. 1. I can not roll my eyes. 2. This looks like a conversation taken out of context. 3. This one appears we have no data, just a generalized complaint from a single anonymous source, correct? 4. I can definitely avoid the word "No" and instead say "We need to take a look at that, let me get back to you" and use other phrases to reduce confrontational feelings. Does that sum it up for everyone effectively?"

6. They will have made their own list. When they hand it to you for you to sign, very gently tell them, "I would like to propose that we defer signing this list, since our meeting we just had invalidates this list of complaints. Instead, I will provide my notes I just took to all of you in email with a firm commitment to address the specific, actionable complaints. The other complaints I do not plan to address since there is no specific action item for me to look at there. I think it's better if we have a list that I provide and show buy-in as well as avoiding including any issues that we really cannot address due to lack of specific information. Would everyone agree to that?"

At this point, they will either allow you to take control thinking you will hang yourself and back down, realizing they can't play politics with you, or they will put all of their cards down and push you hard to leave the company or sign it anyway.

At any rate, you will force their hand. You will either impress, stall, or expose a scheme and know it is time to leave for sure.

If this works the way I think it will, they will not come after you again because you are a pain in the rear to take on and turn everything around making everyone else feel incompetent while only saying nice things that when quoted back look good for you and bad for them.

[b]IF THAT FAILS... MAKE A LAST STAND[/b]

If they continue to attack and this strategy doesn't work, you can now invoke your review - pass around copies for everyone to look at, and remind them that just a short few weeks ago, they gave you an outstanding rating. Ask them what has changed so drastically in the meantime that your rating is now called into question. They will likely respond with a tempered set of remarks, "Oh, we're not calling that into question. This isn't that big of a deal."

Also, you might pass around a bulleted list of accomplishments, and say, "I wanted to ensure that this meeting was a positive experience for everyone, and so I thought I would review what we have done right in the IT department since I came on."

Those last two actions might not be necessary, however... and they are last-ditch efforts intended to sound uplifting and positive but at the same time sort of kick sand on their feet for bad refereeing and remind them that you are carefully keeping records as well. It may serve to buy some time while you job shop, as if they have any savvy they will interpret this to mean that you are dangerous to wrangle with, and they probably don't want you to spin up a lawsuit or make trouble. They want a clean break. Perhaps they will back off and then suddenly let you go under the guise of a layoff. Maybe they will just let you go right there for the brazen attempt to belittle their attempts to corner you. If you find yourself reaching for copies of your review and your accomplishments to date, realize you are now throwing down a smoke bomb that will hopefully create cover for a little while so you can exit on your terms or forcing their hand to blow you out the door. It is a high-risk, dangerous move. It is likely to be interpreted as hostile and resistant on your part. Use it sparingly and with judicious consideration for how successful your attempts to reframe the complaints as minor feedback are.

Always stay positive and phrase things in such a way that you are working for the good of the company and want to make things better - always open to feedback and will address anything of merit.

To help you do this better and pull it off, keep in your mind the fact that you want to help them. They need your help to avoid getting mired in this sort of silly rumor-mill drama in the future. You are their teacher, their guide, showing them just how silly getting worked up about a bunch of BS trumped up by some blue collar guy with no emotional control who embellishes stories to create drama and take attention off of himself. They probably suffer from this sort of thing a lot, and don't know what to do other than circle the wagons with management and HR to protect themselves. You will show them a better way. Good for you and good for them!!!

Good luck.

balert's picture

Unfortunately for me, I may have found your great advice too late. I had the performance improvement plan aka "written warning" yesterday. I have until Friday to create a detailed, corrective action plan. Then my performance will be reviewed in 45 days to validate whether I improved or not. Well, at least they implied that I might have a fair and impartial review. :roll:

The action plan meeting did not go well. I did not remain detached or proactively engaged or any of that crap. I was being attacked, called on the carpet for non-performance based, non-quantifiable "anonymous feedback" bullshit wrapped in a blanket of "we want to help you". I had a very human response: I fought back. I wrote my rebuttal refuting each one of the elements of my review, all of which have been summarily dismissed by my boss, who gave them no credence whatsoever.

After that, well, let's just say I made some career-limiting choices in these last two days and now I'm formulating plans for exiting, hopefully with some dignity, self-respect, and professionalism. I have no roadmap for handling this situation. I shot myself in the foot and I know it. Now I got to live with those consequences. I really wouldn't wish this situation on anyone, but I'm old enough to know that it happens all the time. In fact, it's happened twice to my spouse.

Thanks everyone so much for your excellent input. Hey, maybe next time I'll even use it. :wink:

jhack's picture

[quote="balert"]Thanks everyone so much for your excellent input. Hey, maybe next time I'll even use it.[/quote]
I always learn a lot from US41's posts. He puts a lot of time and thought into them, and they hit on key aspects of managerial life. Many other folks take time to provide good ideas and insights, too.

And there are more, often lurking, who benefit from these discussions.

Please do use the advice you find here. Those who don't learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.

John

US41's picture

[quote="balert"]...my performance will be reviewed in 45 days to validate whether I improved or not.

...I fought back...

I have no roadmap for handling this situation. I shot myself in the foot and I know it. Now I got to live with those consequences. I really wouldn't wish this situation on anyone, but I'm old enough to know that it happens all the time. In fact, it's happened twice to my spouse.

Thanks everyone so much for your excellent input. Hey, maybe next time I'll even use it. :wink:[/quote]

OK, that's not how you want things to play out, but sometimes the emotions run high and you make mistakes. You played right into their hands. I'm very sure that was the hoped-for and expected reaction of an unreasonable barbarian that must be excised like a cancer and removed from the team to prevent any further damage to morale or the established culture.

Good news: You know it. Have I "played right into their hands" before? You bet I have. We all have.

You indicate above you have no action plan, so I'll keep going with you to the end.

Frankly, at this point, I would submit my resignation. The choice is yours as to whether you hunt for a job now, land it, give notice, and leave, or if you just go ahead and put together a transition package for them, give notice, and then let them say "It's over" as soon as you do that. It's obvious the move is on to get rid of you. The question is "What are the consequences?"

You interview from strength with a current job, but probably not with a current job where you are slowly being fired.

Your have more time to interview and work your job search when you are not doing some fear dance at work pretending you can keep your job when you are sure you cannot.

Unemployment may be affected by whether or not you are fired or quit and whether or not they have a valid cause for firing you. You might not care about this.

Sounds like you are on the way out. I am very sorry you are going through this. Update your resume tonight. Make your first calls to recruiters tomorrow morning. Start the job search. I don't see how this could possibly end well.

The reason I feel so negatively about your situation is because you said your boss tossed your rebuttals aside.

Hopefully others will chime in and advise from their experience as to what your next step is.

I hope it all works out. A year from now in your new job, you will look back and laugh. A platitude, I know, but true nonetheless.

Good podcasts for you right now probably:

http://www.manager-tools.com/2006/07/how-to-resign-part-1-of-3/
http://www.manager-tools.com/2006/07/how-to-resign-part-2-of-3/
http://www.manager-tools.com/2006/08/how-to-resign-part-3-of-3/

http://www.manager-tools.com/2005/10/your-resume-stinks/

http://www.manager-tools.com/2005/11/strategic-thinking-and-layoffs/
http://www.manager-tools.com/2005/11/strategic-thinking-and-layoffs-part-2/

lazerus's picture

I recently worked for a company who spent the majority of productive time playing this game, the rules of which are incomprehensible to me because they have something to do with "who likes you". I don't care if someone at work likes me or not. I have a job. I like my family and friends.

I understand it's all about the relationships, but if I'm delivering measurable value, and my coworkers conspire to have me removed because I'm threatening to them, "they don't like me", I'm wasting my talent there anyway.

It is extremely difficult not to take it personally, but it's really not about you, it's about how they are letting the "I like you" game override rationality. Be in control by going somewhere they value bottom line effectiveness.

balert's picture

Well, today is T -1. My deadline for delivering my action plan is tomorrow. But to show that I take it seriously, I completed and delivered it today.

I just want to take a moment to acknowledge all the impressively explicit advice you folks have presented. Yes, I probably blew this opportunity because I acted from a position of anxiety rather than a position of strength. Yes, there are more effective ways of resolving even the most trying and negatively charged business situation. Yes, I've buffed my resume', took notes on the "how to resign" podcast, and started pinging my network for a new place to land.

In the meantime, I still have a job. I try to convey "business as usual" to my DR's and stay on top of my duties as best as I know how. I am also taking steps to ensure, as best I can, that I leave on my terms.

I have a lot of people on my side in this and that's what I'll need to get through to the next opportunity. Thanks everyone and I'll keep you posted.

US41's picture

[quote="lazerus"]I understand it's all about the relationships, but if I'm delivering measurable value, and my coworkers conspire to have me removed because I'm threatening to them, "they don't like me", I'm wasting my talent there anyway.[/quote]

I seriously doubt there is a single human organization on the planet where this is not "the game" and those are not "the rules." If you find a place where this is not happening to you, then you are liked and happen to have the relationships.

I believe that is inevitable in every human social construct that there is politics. I think this is part of what our hosts mean when they say "It is all about the relationships." It literally is about being liked. If you are liked - if you smile, if you appear to listen, if you make them smile, if you play nice with others, and if you work to fit in, you'll succeed.

If your performance is awesome, but you consider all of that irrational and unacceptably off-topic at work, you will probably end up railroaded repeatedly.

I remember Mark repeatedly telling the story of the guy who did not perform that others tried to push out. The big boss liked him. His excuse for exempting him from housecleaning was, "I don't care what you say. I like him. End of discussion. Next topic." (paraphrased)

I'm sure any manager with more than 15 reports will nod in agreement that somewhere on their team is a guy that they think maybe isn't really that great of a performer, but they really like them, and the real story is "well, too bad everybody, she's going to stay, because I like her."

Relationships + performance = ideal

Relationships without performance = survivable

Performance without relationships = dangerous

No relationships or performance = termination

I hear you when you say you don't like it, or that it should not be that way. But I'm afraid it simply is that way, and that fact will not change.

Therefore, it is never a waste of time to work on being liked. Being liked is the more powerful ally than role power or expertise. People with a talent for being liked overpower others with skills, knowledge, and experience regularly.

Rarely do you see a very unpopular person succeed in an organization because they have skills. Usually they are left in some single-tool use job in a corner, or they find themselves continually at the mercy of well-liked, less intelligent people.

But that begs the question as to who is more intelligent - the guy that focuses on more powerful relationships, or the guy that focuses on less powerful expertise in order to strengthen his position at work.

Given my lackluster results using expertise for the last 20 years, and my amazing results focusing on relationships for the last couple of years, my money is on relationships.

WillDuke's picture

I like US41's post, and feel compelled to further the discussion he ends on about relationships, intelligence, and expertise.

It seems to me that a person can be effective regardless of their intelligence, and to some extent without technical expertise. In fact, isn't that what a manager does? As a manager we are responsible for making a team full of experts effective. M&M have said many times that good management is boring. It isn't rocket science. It's not technical expertise that makes a manager excel. A manager excels with management expertise.

So what is management expertise? Well, since managers work with people, it would seem logical to say that relationship expertise is what manager's need. An intelligent person, like US41, adjusts their approach and succeeds by focusing on relationships.

terrih's picture

[quote]I believe that is inevitable in every human social construct that there is politics. I think this is part of what our hosts mean when they say "It is all about the relationships." It literally is about being liked. If you are liked - if you smile, if you appear to listen, if you make them smile, if you play nice with others, and if you work to fit in, you'll succeed.

If your performance is awesome, but you consider all of that irrational and unacceptably off-topic at work, you will probably end up railroaded repeatedly. [/quote]

That is EXACTLY what's going on with one of my DR's! Her performance is great but she acts like she can't stand most of us. I've been trying to get in enough affirming feedback so I can start giving adjusting once in a while :wink:... but with her the affirming FB is always about her performance, because that's about the only thing I see good most of the time. Which just leads to her asking, if she's so good, how come she doesn't get [raise, promotion, whatever]?

I just had an epiphany... with her, I need to move on to watching for behaviors I want to encourage... like smiling, and appearing to listen, and playing nice with others, and working to fit in.

It's worth a try anyway.

WillDuke's picture

I think you're right on Terri. Halfway through your post I was going to suggest what you said in the second part of your post. :)

US41's picture

[quote="terrih"]I just had an epiphany... with her, I need to move on to watching for behaviors I want to encourage... like smiling, and appearing to listen, and playing nice with others, and working to fit in.

It's worth a try anyway.[/quote]

Yes! Suggestions to focus on:

* Smile
* Nod
* Lift eyebrows
* Sing-songy, quieter, slower speech
* Eye contact

and how about teaching her to give positive feedback using the peer model? It is easy to use.

Sometimes a smile and a soft voice can bend ears far more effectively than a stern, loud, fast one - especially when in management.

terrih's picture

US41, just for clarification...

[quote]Yes! Suggestions to focus on:
* Smile
* Nod
* Lift eyebrows
* Sing-songy, quieter, slower speech
* Eye contact[/quote]

Are you suggesting I focus on doing these things myself, or encouraging her to do these things?

Thanks!

US41's picture

Her.

terrih's picture

Gotcha. :)

mikehansen's picture

balert,

Hopefully things are going ok. You got some really great advice from US41 and others. I will throw out another angle if you are still there and chugging through the action plan.

Consider plainly asking your boss if he/she wants you on your team. Something like: “I think it is clear that you do not think I am a good fit for your team. You need to have folks that you trust to execute on your plans, and if I am not a good fit, then we should talk about the best way to transition me out”.

They will react in a few different ways, none of which put you in a worse spot. To pull this off, you must be unemotional and ready to hear what ever the answer is. Here are some possible outcomes:

1) They deny it and say it is just a reaction to your performance. If this happens, you should take it at face value and affirm your commitment to addressing the negative performance and being a strong member of the team going forward. You have to decide for your self if they are being up front with you. If you think they are blowing smoke, leave when you are ready (please do it with an accepted offer in hand). If you truly believe them, it is a clean slate and your future there is up to you and how well you perform going forward.

2) They admit that they think you are not a good fit. I think most managers would not be open with this, but if they are, that is actually great news. They will almost certainly discuss the transition plan openly and agree on a timeframe for you to leave. It will be refreshing for you to be able to tell them “I need Wednesday off, I have an interview!”. This is a much better result than getting fired or resigning without another job in hand.

3) They dodge the answer, or refuse to seriously engage you in discussion about it. This probably means they want you gone but are too weak to admit it. Go through the motions at work and find another job. Your time is wasted here. I would still try and follow the “how to resign” advice, but I would be very surprised if they work with you on the transition once you give notice.

If you take this approach, you will know more about where you truly stand then if you don’t. You have nothing to lose, and you might even be able to turn things around and clear the baggage that these events caused (unlikely, but possible).

Hope that helps,
Mike

balert's picture

Thank you for the input. It mirrors exactly what my EAP counselor suggested I do, but with a little more detail than he provided. Because I don't have a model for this experience (I sure will after this gets resolved), I am adopting M&M's model as closely as I can. I'm creating my transition file, pinging my professional network, stowing my "righteous indignation", stifling my overwhelming urge to extract a pound of flesh, and telling NO ONE (do you folks count as no one? :wink: ).

I am hanging my belief on the fact that my career challenge will in some way get resolved because Nature abhors a vacuum. Something, as yet unknown and unknowable, will supplant what I have now. What I can do in the meantime is point the bus in the right direction and do what I can to take care of the business in front of me. Despite my psyche being hard-wired to worry about the future, I must keep reminding myself that all I have is today.

I do now and will continue to need help from friends and colleagues. I count this group within that scope. I truly appreciate your input. I will continue to "quasi-blog" my exploits with the intent that some kernel of usable knowledge can be gleaned from this thread to help others avoid my missteps.

US41's picture

What a great attitude! I'm afraid you are doomed to succeed. And your contribution here has already been tremendous with many people reading it and the responses. Don't under-estimate your positive impact to others in life.

lazerus's picture

Ditto what US41 says. Bringing up this conversation is brave and valuable. Thanks and please do keep us posted about this!

willer's picture

balert, any new news? Yours is a very interesting story.

FYI, I went through pretty much exactly your situation many years ago. The company I worked in for a few years had new management brought in after VC investment, and the politics got pretty intense. I was at one point put on review by the VP above me.

I didn't lose my cool, but I was bewildered. In my case, I was lucky because I had good connections and the company founder was still heavily involved, and he overrode the whole thing. I found out later that there was some negative note put in my HR file as part of this process, but that was removed later. It was very much like a soap opera.

Eventually, within the year, the whole set of new management was turfed, and the company went more or less back to the way it was. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. My one experience with truly machiavellian politics so far.

balert's picture

Well,
As my wife would say, I have my "come to Jesus" meeting in 30 minutes with my boss and her boss. I boiled my discussion down to 3 talking points:

1) Do you want me around?
2) If no, let's talk transition, severance and benefits.
3) If yes, will this "performance action", aka written warning, be removed from my personnel file upon successful completion of the actionable performance criteria at the end of the 45-day evaluation period? And, oh btw, what exactly is that actionable criteria against which I will be judged?

So, I should know soon enough what road I'll be pointing the career bus. Thanks everyone for your support.

balert's picture

The winner is....Door #3!

[quote="mikehansen"]
3) They dodge the answer, or refuse to seriously engage you in discussion about it. This probably means they want you gone but are too weak to admit it.[/quote]

They completely chumped out when I stated this exact phrase: "I think it is clear that you do not think I am a good fit for your team. You need to have folks that you trust to execute on your plans, and if I am not a good fit, then we should talk about the best way to transition me out”.

Also, I offered to tender my resignation today if they would agree, in writing, that I can have 6 months severance and continuation of benefits. They hummed, and hawwed, and stammered and stuttered and said, "Well I don't know if that would fly with senior management." And, "we don't want to reward someone for leaving after performing poorly on the job." I said it's not a reward, it's severance so that I can feed my family and keep a house. They did agree however that my position requires someone in whom they can trust.

So, here's what shook out from that meeting:

1) I still don't know what actionable criteria they will use to judge my performance at the end of the evaluation period. I asked specifically how it will be known if I met the criteria. They dodged the question.

2) They know they have a built-in "exit clause". They are taking a "let's wait for the 45-day period to end", so they can say they "gave me a chance" and then boot me. I'm gone and they pay no severance or benefits.

3) When asked about having someone in a position of trust here, my boss stated, "Well, yes, you damaged my trust in that last meeting we had, but I'm not going to let it get in the way of my professional relationship." Yea, right.

In summary, my boss doesn't trust me to perform my duties, and her boss won't pony up to get me to resign because he knows time is on their side. After 45-days, they can boot me with no additional cost.

Now that I know beyond a reasonable doubt where I stand with them, which is in essence [i]persona non-grata[/i], I can continue along my path that leads to the nearest exit.

I'll keep you posted should any of that change, but I seriously doubt that it will.

Thanks everyone.

mikehansen's picture

Bummer, but no surprise. Congratz on having the nerve to pose the tough question, it is not easy (I know!).

Good luck in your quest for a better job and keep us posted.

Sincerely,
Mike

Chelle's picture

balert,

Glad to hear that you have more time to look for a new/better position!

An MT manager is asset. It is their loss, not yours.

You have a support system here if things get rough. And you have an action plan to keep you occupied. It's time to get to work!

Good luck to you.

balert's picture

Well,
The environment has settled somewhat. I have a checkpoint meeting next week to gauge my progress based on, as yet, un-quantified criteria. Whatever :roll: . I'll just roll with it. What else can I do. I'm doing what a recruiter once advised me to do in these situations -- "fall on my sword".

What I [i]can[/i] do is approach my career options proactively. Thus, I'm attending a local job fair today with a stack of MT resume's in hand. Additionally, I've been grabbing any available networking opportunity and aggressively scanning help-wanted ads and job boards.

That's all the footwork I can think of. If anyone has other suggestions, I welcome them.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

balert's picture

Well,

As most to whom I talked predicted, the main attendees for the milestone check-up meeting were absent. Hmmm. After checking the meeting roster, I learned that my boss didn't even bother to accept the Outlook meeting invitation when I sent it out following our last "check up" meeting two weeks ago.

As M&M remind us, base our actions on perceived behavior, not attitude. So, I note the behavior here. I scheduled what is to me a very important milestone meeting (agreed upon by all parties in our last meeting), based on the behavior of my boss -- she initiated a written warning threatening me with termination if I don't comply with her performance expectations. [b]Her subsequent behavior has been to ignore the meeting request.[/b]

I guess I'll reschedule the meeting for next week while I still have the chance.

HMac's picture

Tough news, balert. But entirely consistent with the signals they've been sending throughout. I hope you've made progress on your networking and job search (think of it as getting "a running start" on your departure date :wink: ).

Your posts have shown you to be very positive about yourself, your contribution, your worth to an organization. Keep it up!

-Hugh