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Thread: How to address problem behaviour in new manager

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array
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    Jan 2011

    Default How to address problem behaviour in new manager

    I am having some trouble with my manager at work, and I am hoping that some people here (particularly those with more extraverted personality types) might be able to help me tactfully broach the subject with her.

    The organization I work for has been having some trouble in the last year with losing managers and restructuring. We originally had one manager and two assistant managers across two managers, but the manager quit and was replaced by a regional manager at a branch several hours away. A second assistant manager was hired at my branch who turned out to be a nightmare, but fortunately she only lasted a few months before mysteriously going on 'sick leave' and leaving the organization. The remaining assistant manager had a personality clash with the new regional manager, and has now gone on 'sick leave' as well. The remaining assistant manager was promoted to manager, and that is where we are now.

    There is far too much on the manager's plate. She is doing the work of three people, and she is clearly and visibly overwhelmed by her workload. As a result, she is attempting to pass on some management responsibilities to other members of the staff. There have also been two people recently promoted, and a third was hired, and none of these individuals are quite up to speed with their duties yet.

    On top of this, both offices are in disarray. Recent compliance audits showed both branches as having major issues that need to be resolved (largely the result of past mismanagement), including some big items that can result in fines and other penalties if they're not brought up to standard. It is extremely likely that we will fail the follow-up audit.

    However, I find all of this somewhat manageable; the real issues are with the manager's behaviour. The main issues are as follows:

    -she does not seem to realize that she is not the only one with an unmanageable workload, so she keeps passing work off to others that they can't reasonably complete. The workers at the other branch have stopped taking lunch breaks to compensate, and she has strongly implied that we should do the same.
    -no one knows where she is or where she will be. She will leave the branch suddenly and not appear at the other for hours, or she we say she is going to be somewhere and not be there
    -she seems incapable of scheduling us in a consistent or predictable manner. One day we will be overstaffed, and the next understaffed. Most recently she booked herself for a meeting in another city when doing so would interfere with vacation days (specifically, mine)
    -she is constantly implying that I and other staff are not pulling our weight, despite the fact that we have almost no downtime on any given day and that our workload has increased drastically
    -she takes suggestions or reminders as insults. Most recently, she decided to go to the other branch and I requested that she leave a key. This resulted in a tirade along the lines of 'why would you possibly need a key?' Without a key, we would be locked in in an emergency, and we couldn't open for the day
    -it is impossible to get her undivided attention for more than a couple of minutes at a time
    -everything is a crisis. especially minor, everyday inconveniences

    Anyway, I am about done with this. I am applying for other jobs, both within and outside the organization. However, I would prefer to address these issues in such a way that going to work is not a painful experience, both for me and for my coworkers, and without alienating my boss. I am more the type to quietly avoid conflict, so this is kind of new to me. Can anyone suggest a way to do this?

  2. #2
    FRACTALICIOUS Array phobik's Avatar
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    Apr 2009


    link her to this thread.
    To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.
    ~ Elbert Hubbard

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  3. #3
    Let me count the ways Array HelenOfTroy's Avatar
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    Jan 2010
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    The problem obviously goes further up,

    Do you think her behaviour would change if she had a managable workload?

    People respond differently to pressure and stress, her way of dealing with it is obviously not the same way as you.

    If the company has another branch that they are asking to work through their lunch hour and want your branch to do the same there really needs to be some kind of meeting to explain to staff why these measures are important. If it's a case that there is no way round it, it should be made clear to all and responsilibities should be apportioned and defined as much as possible.

    I'd suggest sending an email to the regional manager outlining your concerns and cc it to the manager but you'd have to put it in a way that wasn't villifying the manager.

    The going missing thing is a bit concerning.... is she circling the black hole of 'sickleave' i wonder.

    If you worked for a spy agency, i'd know what sick leave really meant.

    I'd also try to show her support, if she is the last of the managers she most likely needs it.

    EDIT: Actually just re-read and saw that you specially asked how to approach the manager herself but i'm a bit unsure because you go on to say that you can never get a minute with her. If you want to try just apeaking with her first rather than leapfrogging try emailing her. I'd be gentle with approach as chances are she is ready to blow, it would be kinder to to adopt a more understanding perspective, even if you don't. Maybe start it with some general comments about how busy the place is and how it must be hard for everyone in the office including herself as she is effectively doing the job of several people... just so you cushion yourself a little.
    "We knew he was someone who had a tragic flaw, that's where his greatness came from"

  4. #4
    Senior Member Array
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    Jan 2011


    Thanks for the input. What I'm really looking for is a way to say this stuff without her going on the defensive. I will try the cushioning idea, but I think that she is still going to take offense.

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