Thursday, August 03, 2017

Ask A Manager

This is a good site, and we discussed this particular letter last night at beer night. It is from a manager so mistaken, so non-insightful, that the hostess at first suspected it was a hoax.  As did I.
My team found her quietness and her ability to develop sales presentations and connect with each client was very show-off-like. When she asked for help, we didn’t take it seriously because we thought she acted like she knew everything and she was making us look bad by always going above and beyond for no reason. My team and I had worked together for 5-6 years so I knew them, their work and their personalities better than anyone else so I took what they said with more seriousness. I also thought that her years of experience were irrelevant; she didn’t have anything beyond a bachelor’s degree (most of us were smart and dedicated enough to get a masters) and her experience was in a different subset of insurance.
His defense of the actions that led to her quitting, and trashing him and his team of pals in her exit interview, goes on in similar fashion for a long while, including a Q&A with the site hostess trying to clarify that she really is hearing what she is hearing.



Sam L. said...

She seemed to be a know-it-all, and I/we knew better. And he thought less of her because she only had a bachelors degree. Fell into the hole he dug himself.

jaed said...

Gracious. I'm just getting into the Letter Writer's comments on the original post, and... gracious.

Do I read this correctly, that the Letter Writer felt the top priority in building a work team was to get together a bunch of fun people as a social group for the manager to enjoy?

Donna B. said...

Oh my. I don't think that "manager" has a great career in his future.

Donna B. said...

Also, so appropriate that this was discussed at beer night. ;-)

jaed said...

I have a feeling, looking at ages and at what the Letter Writer says, that it went like this:

- Letter Writer went into a master's program right after undergrad.
- Letter Writer was hired into her current position, managing a team, right out of the master's.
- Letter Writer was tasked with hiring for/creating this team. (Because any preƫxisting team member would have raised red flags about this early on.)
- Letter Writer hired her friends to come work for her.

It makes sense of all of it—the obliviousness to the inappropriateness of the behavior, the talk about how she wanted the team to be her social group, the apparent unfamiliarity with the concept (let alone the conventions) of a professional workplace. She's never seen one. Neither have any of the others. They figured the workplace was a continuation of their social group from college because it was in fact a continuation of their social group from college.

Naturally, the intrusion of an actual professional disrupted things and caused resentment.

The only mystery is how this group managed to be productive enough (between beer runs and Snapchat slam books) not to attract vast, cool, and unsympathetic management attention years ago.

Donna B. said...

jaed -- that scenario makes sense, except for step 2. What kind of firm hires straight out of any level degree into management? I can't imagine what their clients are experiencing.

Donna B. said...

Maybe law firms have the right idea -- just because someone managed to finish law school and pass the bar exam doesn't mean they know how to be a lawyer and are therefore heavily supervised for a few years.

jaed said...

The reason I concluded that was the ages. Letter Writer is 28 years old and has a bachelor's and master's. She also says she's known her team members for 5-6 years and they're all about her age. So.... I'm guessing here and it's possible that she's been a manager for less time, but I don't see how she gets hired into a non-management position and 1) fails so signally to learn how grown-ups interact in the work place, and 2) ever gets considered for a management promotion, given her attitudes.

In case you didn't get that far, once HR had absorbed the exit interview, they fired not only Letter Writer, but the whole group. (Not unreasonable, if it is as toxic as Letter Writer presented it.) So now Letter Writer and her team are asking whether they can sue the employee they harassed into quitting, because she damaged their careers... by revealing how they'd been behaving.

I started out saying things like "Gracious" and ended up evolving to... considerably stronger language as I read more ;-).

Donna B. said...

Of course they can sue that employee -- IF -- they can find a lawyer that is as stupid as they are.

Texan99 said...

Or if they'll pay the freight instead of expecting some lawyer to take this pathetic case on a contingency.

At the risk of being crudely commercial, I'm wondering if anyone in this group considered whether corporate policy included a preference for generating a profit? And did they consider whether their approach or the approach of the evil outgoing outsider might be more conducive to that (no doubt completely illegitimate) end? It reminds me of the poster that reads "Get to work: we're not paying you to realize the power of your dreams."

jaed said...

Quote from her followup:

"My team found her [...] ability to develop sales presentations and connect with each client was very show-off-like."

Also quote:

"By losing her, we lost clients and leverage in the marketplace. Our sales territory couldn’t afford to lose any more business under my 'mismanagement' and the HR was worried about damage to the brand name. "

She doesn't appear to have put the pieces together and neither does her "team".

On the other hand, she mentioned in the comments that she was looking for a therapist, and even admitted that she acted partly out of jealousy, so there's that. (Am I wrong to feel sorry for the therapist?)