Submitted by jquela on
I have been working at a position for 6 years and was given a promotion to team manager about a year ago. Prior to that, I had been doing the management work without the title/pay for about another year. My entire department went under restructuring and I am now under a new manager. My new manager has been extremely pleased with my progress and the way the department has been handled but feels we need direction from someone with much more experience than I do. I agreed to this up to the point that we need more senior people on the team, but nowhere did we discuss management or how these people would fall in with the structure.
We found someone about a week ago and I checked our org chart and it shows that I now report to that person, as well as my one remaining direct report. My boss not only wants to release my report (who has been an underperformer for a while, but I was not given authority to release him nor a budget to hire a new person) but reaffirmed the org chart change by saying it will not affect what I will be doing but "it is what it is."
Other than lack of resources and budget, I have not been given any negative feedback to my performance nor the way I had been running my department, including my reports. To me, this feels like the effort I had put in for the past 6 years is being put aside for someone who has not even proven themselves in the company at this time. The way my manager had worded our discussions had been that the new, more senior people, would work with me (not above me) and we would move the department to bigger heights.
I am trying to remain positive about this but I feel bitter that my hard work has been pretty much ignored and I was not really given any sort of information about this until I was told (by someone not anywhere related to my department) to check the org chart.
What are your thoughts?
Concentrate on what is, not how it came to be
I am sorry to hear about your situation. It is hard to give advice when the boss doesn´t seem to be acting correctly, as there is not much you can do to really change the situation, you cannot change your boss. I will try giving you some tips though that may change how you feel with regards to the situation, at least changing the way I look at the situation has helped me in the past in dealing with seemingly unfair situations:
1 - Most of time I have found that we can cope with almost anything. What annoys us is the HOW people do stuff they do, not exactly WHAT they do. I bet you would feel a lot better if your boss had been straightforward to you about his plans. What I have learned to realise is that most people don´t face a problem directly, they avoid it, and let it sort it self out without them needing to be direct about it. It is a terrible way of sorting things out, but I have come to the realisation that concentrating on HOW I wish people had conducted the issue doesn´t help. Concentrate on the WHAT. It still doesn´t feel good to be demoted, but try to look things from the bright side. It seems like you were always under budged, lacked resources, had not authority to let go of a poor performer, and you needed a more senior person in your team. Maybe now with the organisation you will get all of this? The only bad thing about the new situation you loose the manager title. That is a nice challenge for the ego to cope with and accept the situation. It seems like lots of people were laid off with the restructuring. Things don´t stay the same when there is a restructuring, and you could look at it from the point of view that they kept you on the organisation.
2 - With regards to you feeling bitter with your hard work having been ignored. That is all in your mind. We receive the money, the status, the satisfaction from the work we do now, today. One cannot work today and feel miserable with the perspective, with the hope, that things will be better one day. There is no guarantees. It was your choice to work hard, and nobody can take away from you what you learned from the work you put in.
I hope you remain positive about it, and find it in your heart to forgive and forget the way your boss behaved, because that is the only way you can stay on the job and make it work under the new structure. Don´t stay and complain, if you cannot forgive him, you need to get your resume ready, and look for greener pastures.
As Luis Fernando Veríssimo, a Brazilian write wrote once: "You cannot put play back in soccer to correct for referee mistakes. It would take the unfairness out of the game. And soccer is fun precisely because it is like life, it is unfair."
Murder The Unchosen Alternative
I can sympathize because I just found out I'm going to be in an eerily similar position - taking a step back to being an individual contributor after spending a year as a manager in favor of "new blood." Obviously, I have a lot of emotions about this - especially considering that I just led my team through a harrowing project in the worst of circumstances. I spent quite some time thinking through this and here's what I came up with:
So, you know what? I may not give feedback or do one-on-ones anymore. I won't be delegating anything anywhere (except to the floor). I won't have "manager" or "lead" or anything like that in my title. And I may take a pay cut.
And I'll still be a leader amongst my peers. I got the job because I was a leader before I was a manager. I'll still rigorously maintain the relationships I've forged with the team and with my current peers. I'll continue to demonstrate professionalism, starting by being professionally subordinate. I'll still coach people on areas where I have expertise that I can leverage to their benefit.
So, I encourage you to be a professional in the Manager Tools fashion. Hold your head high, put your emotions aside, and continue to demonstrate the qualities that got you promoted the first time. And, if you find out that life is intolerable under your new manager, find a new job and resign like a professional [Oh, and there are casts for that. :) ]
Someone recently PMed me and said this post was encouraging to them. I wrote this four years ago nearly to the day and thought that a little update might be warranted.
I did do everything I suggested in my previous post but it was much harder than I realized it would be. After six months of "stepping back" to make sure I was not interfering with new leadership, I was losing my mind. It was incredibly difficult to sit on the sidelines and remain silent (because it was made known very early on that my suggestions, no matter how tactful and discreet, were not appreciated) while new leadership imposed a strict "command and control" system which was insulting to the professionals on the team and negatively impacted client delivery. It's very hard to watch the people you cared about as directs go through pain and frustration that you know you wouldn't have put them through. It was equally hard to remain deferential to leadership which directs-cum-peers make private comments about how they wished I was still running things. It was definitely a test of my professionalism.
The even harder part was being an individual contributor again. I truly missed helping my directs. As a manager, I felt I had something akin to a sacred obligation to help my people grow. The greatest joy of my job was helping top performers move up to the next level, helping others improve themselves, and teaching professional skills that almost no one teaches to new hires who were early in their careers.
I'll fast forward from there. After I closed out a year-long project and was looking for my next opportunity, I was contacted by my client who asked me to take a job managing the entire team (effectively a double promotion). The reason being was that my client had noted the difference in the team from when I was managing it and how I had behaved and continued delivering and exceeding expectiations after my demotion.
So the advice above has been battle-tested (at least by me) and I while I still recommend this approach to anyone in this situation, just know it may be much harder to do than you think.