While serving as a team lead, I recently received extremely negative feedback regarding a "command decision" I made during travel.  My initial reaction to the feedback was apology and seeking ways to correct the situation.  However,  as I examined it further I realized it was really actually the right decision all along, and I've found that my management and oversight organizations are totally behind the decision I'd made.  It appears that the negative feedback I received was essentially made up by a new manager who falsely claimed (or at least highly exagerated) his apparent reprimand for my course of action.  I'm currently out of the office on another assignment for several weeks, but when I return I would be working directly with the new manager, and I'm not looking forward to it.  I think I've reviewed the relevant casts, but am still perplexed at how to continue working with the manager who misrepresented the feedback.  I know he will be counseled on it, but I'm not too excited at continuing to work with him considering how he delivered the feedback.  Any suggestions on how to professionally move forward on this would be greatly appreciated.

wespierce's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

Honesty and openness is the best answer here. When you think about this event you're telling yourself a story about why it happened. Inevitably, that story will skew towards creating negative emotions towards the person that injured your feelings during this episode.

Set aside that story you've created about why this new manager treated you this way and sit down with him. Tell him that it has been bugging you how the whole thing went down and ask for help understanding the root cause. Try to understand why he reacted in the manner he did. You made a point to say he is a new manager. Maybe at a previous employer the rules were much different or maybe he has had a past experience relating to a similar situation where he got burnt.

Regardless, it seems important that you both go into this next assignment linked together and if it's bugging you now your best bet is to get it on the table and deal with it up front.

Only other piece of advice is to take a couple of deep breaths and relax before you have your talk. You'll likely feel apprehensive about having this conversation. All of us are trained from birth to read body language and if you go into the discussion nervous your partner will see it and get nervous themselves. Kind of makes sense that if you're nervous they should be on guard right? My experience is that 99% of the time you'll walk in dreading these conversations and then walk out how thinking how silly it was to get so out of shape about it.

Good luck!

kavanagh's picture

Thank you for the feedback.  I appreciate your take on the situation and insights into how to best resolve it!

acao162's picture

I think you should just move forward.  The new manager isn't perfect and did something unprofessional and you got your feelings hurt.  Unless there was a discipline action taken (suspension, affects your bonus etc) I would let it go. 

All you can control is your own actions & reactions.  Maybe the new manager has learned from the experience & it won't happen again.  Dragging up the past only serves to damage your relationship.

Build up your relationship with him now as best you can, prior to returning to the office.  Figure out his DISC profile & communicate with that in mind.  When you get back to the office, focus on the future not the past.

And, you could do him a great favour and introduce him to Manager Tools.  (wink!)

kavanagh's picture

Thank you for enlightening me to another point of view ... invoking DISC is something I should have been doing from the start here.  Your suggestion helps flush out the range of professional responses available here.  I really appreciate the advice.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

I don't know enough yet to tell you how to proceed.

Please tell me specifically what you did, why you did it, in what context, and what was said to whom by whom in what way.  Specifics and behaviors, relationships, communications, etc.

I admit I have cast a skeptical eye on anything describing "extremely negative feedback".  There is NO such thing in the MT lexicon.


kavanagh's picture

It was a dark and stormy night outside the widget factor, when the call came in from the new manager:

'Hey, team lead, I just got my butt chewed off because your team reorganized the our storage area.' 

'Really?', I said.  'The plan was pre-briefed in yesterday's daily report, and today that's what the team focused on since they were waiting for the widget machine to get fixed.  We were so overrun with incoming widget part shipments that people were tripping over boxes, and some of the boxes were stacked too high outside.'

He said, 'I sent you out there with three objectives approved by the widget control board(WCB), and none of them specifically called out reorganizing storage.  I got my butt chewed and you did not have approval to do what you did.'

I apologized before the phone call ended, but didn't have enough information to understand what was really driving the criticism.  Some other issues came up involving higher levels of management and the widget control board.  While working through those issues, I brought up the reorganizaiton issue, only to have my initial course of action validated by the WCB reps and upper management.  They were surprised to hear I'd received negative feedback.

The day after I came back from the factory trip, I met with the widget control board on the other issues, and they promised to look into the reasons behind the negative feedback.  That night I received a call from a board member who revealed that the new manager had been approached by an independent consultant who had read my daily report and told thought I should have obtained prior WCB permission before the trip.  Somehow the new manager relayed that as a WCB approved reprimand, conveyed in a way that I perceived as extremely negative feedback on my performance.

But in the end it was just a phone call.  Nothing was put in writing other than this post, and it shouldn't affect me going forward, aside from influencing my interactions with the new manager, and some strange reluctance on my part to let this go ... which I now realize I very quickly need to do!

Hope this helps fill in some details.  I'm honored and appreciative of the feedback I've received from this forum.

afmoffa's picture

 Kavanagh: I give you big style points for having a sense of (melodramatic) humor about the situation you describe above. Thank you for that.

Independent of DISC proclivities, your manager exhibited two worrisome behaviors:

  1. He interpreted a procedural correction (from the independent consultant) as a butt-chewing reprimand.
  2. When he was reprimanded, he was quick to lash out at subordinates. (He called you soon after he met with the consultant, right?)

Everybody's entitled to a bad day, and you only have two data points, so we shouldn't map out a personality profile. But the two behaviors above are bad news if they turn out to be character traits.

Healthy, low-sodium subsitutes for the above behaviors would be:

  1. (To you) "Hey, Jane the consultant was just talking to me about a few things. In the future, I would appreciate if you'd run stuff like the storage reorganization past me first. Knowing what you're up to helps me allocate manpower, and lets me keep the Widget Control Board informed."
  2. (To self) Man, I am so steamed that Kavanagh went off the reservation like that. Who does he think he is? I can just tell I'm going to blow my stack, so I'm going to walk around the block for five minutes before I call him and offer some feedback.
Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

The guy behaved boorishly, insofar as I can understand what he did and how he came to know of the issue.

Behave professionally when working with him.  I'll be surprised if he makes an issue of it.  Depends on his emotional maturity...about which, who knows?

You're on the right track.  Glad you got good guidance.


RaisingCain's picture


Here are my thoughts on how you should act around this manager the next time you have to work directly together.
You never mentioned if he was your boss or not. I got the impression that he was a superior but not directly your boss. But either way here are my thoughts.
All widget details and antidotes aside (which I loved), you acted in a way the solicited this response. You told me that you did like the response. Act differently next time.
If you’re not sure how to act to get the response you want ask this person. “Mary, the last time I did this I saw you do this and heard you say that (objectivity will be important here). Next time I would like it to turn out this way. What can I do differently next time?”
Then respect what Mary says by doing that next time…if you still get the same boorish response you’ll have a relationship built, and foundation for that next discussion you have with Mary (not the WCB).