I'm a new manager on an engineering team.  Being new to the team, I've struggled a bit coming up to speed on the technical side of things (i.e. how we do what we do), the standard process/procedures followed on the team, etc.

Recently, another manager told me that one of his people had mentioned something about me during an O3.  This person had been talking to one of the people on my team outside of work, and that he was expressing his dislike for me.  He was upset at some of the decisions I have made.  The person also mentioned that I knew nothing about the team, and that I was making bad decisions as a result.

Seeing this as a chance to get some real feedback, I immediately called the person into my office to talk about it.  He was of course very surprised at first, but I tried to do everything I could to ensure he was comfortable speaking his mind, and that I'm in no way "calling him out" or planning to use this against him.  He did acknowledge the conversation, and did admit to me that, at times, I make decisions that are not in the best interest of the team, but when I asked him to give me some examples, he couldn't think of any at all.  I also asked if he felt I was not involved enough with the technical day to day work, and their response was that my involvement was sufficient.  I really couldn't get much more information out of them.

I've made it a habit to elicit feedback during each of our O3s.  Unfortunately, I rarely get anything but "You're doing everything right".  I try to make people feel comfortable to speak their mind at any time, and reassure them I will not take offense, and that I'm just trying to better myself.

So in summary, I've confronted the situation, received a little feedback, (not a whole lot I can act on) but I'm still worried there may be more to it.. Why else would the other person involved go to their manager with this information?  I keep thinking maybe more was said, and that the people I have talked to (the manager and the person on my team) were trying to spare my feelings.

Should I continue to dig for information or just let it go?  Shoud I be concerned, or is this nothing more than the normal manager trash talking that goes on outside of work?

eagerApprentice's picture

For me, I think you've done too much already. I would have never called the person in to my office to confront them.

You'll always have people who are unhappy with your performance and sometimes they will be people on your team.

Rise above it all and focus on the work and deliverables is what I would suggest.

I think anything related to this is only going to be a distraction to everyone, including yourself - better to let it go.

Like water hitting the back of a duck :)



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robin_s's picture
Training Badge

I read a wise statement in a book recently (I think the book was The Four Agreements) - that said, "What you think of me is really none of my business".  If you have elicited feedback and not received it, then I would surmise that your directs don't have anything they feel is important enough to share with you.  If they were really unhappy with your decisions, and you gave them the opportunity to tell you that, I think they would.   A person may not be 100% honest in a conversation with a buddy after work.  It could be that the buddy was griping about his own manager, and your direct was just joining in.  Misery loves company, and people tend to commiserate even when they may not believe what they are saying, if they were honest with themselves.

My personal feeling about eliciting feedback from directs is that it's great to let them know you are open to receiving it, but I wouldn't go much beyond that, such as asking them directly how they think you're doing.  (Not saying you are doing that - just that if you did, you might come across as very unsure of yourself, which might give them cause to doubt you).  

I'm also a new manager (new to this company, anyway)  with challenging directs, some of whom definitely know more than I do about THEIR jobs, which is a good thing.   I've told them outright that I wasn't hired to do their jobs, I was hired for my particular set of skills as a manager.  I think that acknowledging that people on your team are experts at what they do, but also letting them know that you are confident in your skills to do what YOU do, goes a long way toward diffusing the "he doesn't know as much as I do, how can he be my boss" syndrome.

Best of luck to you!

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

and don't go doing what you did again.  BAD IDEA.

Please listen to our casts on feedback and bosses.