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Is it ok to talk to my boss (in a weak  matrix organization), if my project manager shows disrespect and antipaphy in one-on-ones and group meetings?

 

tlhausmann's picture

What *specific* behaviors have you observed that you characterize as unprofessional? Did the PM use foul language, speak disdainfully of a colleague or team member? For example, looking at one's watch does not make someone impatient...they just looked at their watch. It is your *perception* and assumptions that lead you to believe they are impatient.

If you do not report to the PM then the peer feedback model may help you:

http://www.manager-tools.com/2006/10/the-peer-feedback-model

I  wish I had known the peer feedback model earlier in my career. If the person is using foul language then it could sound like this: "When you use words like that here's what happens: [the team takes you less seriously as a leader / you offend people and they stop listening to your ideas / some might wonder if you have the right temperament for the job.] Your call."

The guidance you will get in the forums is to focus on specific behaviors. Is this the same PM with whom you were working back in July?

Trashbox's picture

Thanks for your elaborate reply. Yes, it is the same PM from July. The project will run at least  until the end of April.

 

The specific bahaviors are:

-Telling me to be more pragmatic, on the other hand demanding more reports

-Demanding to be CC'd for all e-mails with the client and complaining about too many mails

-compliment me for my regular reports but complaining in front of others about details in it

-Telling me not to counsult our client, but just to do what I was told to

-Questioning my work style although I deliver results

-Denying independent decisions

My problem is, that he focusses this behavior on me. Yesterday my collogues from the regular meeting came to me and asked, if the PM had a personal problem with me. Other team members constantly deliver poor results, do not deliver reports at all, do not communicate. He does not critizise them.

I applied the feedback model once about two months ago, when he got loud at me in a meeting. But I was unsure because a PM is hardly a peer.

The first thing my boss will ask is: "Have you talked to him?". So I guess giving him the feedback according to the peer feedback model is my only professional way to deal with this, or isn't it?

markn's picture

At the start of my career I used to have a dotted responsibility to a sales manager for pre-sales work... he used to drive me nuts with piling heaps of work on me so I'd need to work nights and weekends... but then he'd tell me "work smarter not harder"...

On my first assignment presenting for him (rather than doing just the technical prep work) he grilled me for 4 hours the night before in a hotel near the client site... again giving tons of hokey and contradictory advise.

Was it hard working for him? yes.

Was he contradictory? yes.

Did he drive me nuts? yes.

I bitched and complained to my boss all the time, and basically he said "your priority is doing work for me... but you also need to do his (the sales manager's)"... so no real help.

At the end of the day the Sales Manager hadn't really done anything wrong.. sure he could have treated me "nicer" .. he could have been clearer in his goals etc.. but i learnt a lot during this time. I learnt a lot about prioritising, i learnt about saying "no" when appropriate and when to just "suck it up", i also learnt a lot of technical and people skills because of the demanding situations he was putting me in.

I still don't know how to "work smarter" but I learnt a lot during this time. Unless you want off of the project I can't see any real course of action to change your PMs behaviour. What i would do is;

a) have a look at the last couple of months and see what has worked for you with your PM and what hasn't. Focus on those behaviours.

b) accept that he's not your favourite person, but work out what you can do to manage the above problems. Sometimes "just doing what you're told" is the order of the day... once a decision has been made (however you may not agree with the process) i would just get on with it. Sometimes being "pragmatic" and "reporting more" may be contradictory.. so focus on the pragmatic and reduce the detail in your reports.

c) If you really want to give him some feedback, focus on positive feedback for behaviours you wish to encourage.

d) Have a look at what you've learnt during the last few months. You may be surprised what you are getting (above your paycheck)

 

You'll meet a lot of people who you think are jerks, at the bare minimum this is an oportunity to learn how to work with one.

 

 

 

Trashbox's picture

Thank you for your suggestions. I will really think this through in the next days when my mind is clearer. For now, I will reply in my current mood.  If it is not helpful, then at least it will be insightful (also for myself in a few day).

a) have a look at the last couple of months and see what has worked for you with your PM and what hasn't. Focus on those behaviours.
 

He drives me nuts. When I say "okay" to something he tells me to do, he keeps repeating what he already told me. I don't know what for. Does he think I am deaf or dumb? Last time I counted it. He repeated it more than 10 times. Even 3 times after I told him he was constantly repeating himself.

When I say something, have a question, suggestion or explanation, he always criticises. At least in part.

-Reports work in part (criticism of parts every time)
-Meetings do not work at all (criticism every time)
-One-on-Ones work partly, getting worse (at the moment: arguments every time).
-Mails work most of the time (as long as I deliver and don't ask for anything)

b) accept that he's not your favourite person, but work out what you can do to manage the above problems. Sometimes "just doing what you're told" is the order of the day... once a decision has been made (however you may not agree with the process) i would just get on with it. Sometimes being "pragmatic" and "reporting more" may be contradictory.. so focus on the pragmatic and reduce the detail in your reports.

This will definitively be the hardest part for me. Just doing it. Obeying to someone I have no relationship with is one of the most difficult tasks for me. The only power I feel from my PM is role power... and he uses it every time he wants something from me at the current state.

c) If you really want to give him some feedback, focus on positive feedback for behaviours you wish to encourage.

I can't really think of anything I could give positive feedback about. And I thank others for their work every day.

d) Have a look at what you've learnt during the last few months. You may be surprised what you are getting (above your paycheck)

When I think about it... he told me, I could learn the "dirty tricks" from other suppliers in the project. The blaming and argumenting.

 

markn's picture

It doesn't sound like fun at all, I really feel for you as I've been in very similar situations. I really applaud your approach of thinking it through when you've cooled down.