Sunday, January 09, 2005

One Little Rant, and then I'll Move On.

I can't seem to shake that last meeting before she walked out.

My sales supervisor had given notice, and her final two weeks had been strained and klugy. She didn't get any projects completed. She didn't work more than 5 hours a day. She didn't show up for scheduled meetings.

So this final meeting of ours, as supervisor and manager, found me feeling detached and ready to move forward without her. I don't respect people who feel entitled to full pay when they don't do the work. And I tend to guard my thoughts and my personal investment in people who I don't respect.

But Entitled she felt, and this was her opportunity to tell me why.

I suppose the fact that she had never shared any of these thoughts with me before her exit interview is why I'm left feeling so jaded. Successful development of personnel is a dual responsibility. I can make opportunities available, I can provide guidance and vision, and I can supply training and support when desired or needed. But the other person needs to provide feedback and be a willing partner in her development.

I can't do the job for an employee, and despite my attempts to help my sales supervisor become self-directed, she failed. I knew it. The director knew it. The vice president knew it. And eventually, she knew it. The problem is that she blamed...Me.

I've done a whole lot of soul searching on this one. And I can truly say that I gave her my best as a manager. When I told her her this, she replied, "Oh, I'm sure you gave your best, Jill."

(Stinging comment number one...with about a dozen or more to follow.)

I refrained from mirroring her criticism, knowing that I could put the company at risk if I spoke my mind. So instead, I provided examples of performance issues that illustrated the fact that this job was not the right fit for her. Again, she said that this was my fault.

Throughout my years as a manager, I've seen person after person blame others for their failings. Sales reps that don't have "enough materials" to make the sale. Supervisors who didn't get "enough support" to hit the numbers. And in this case, "micro-management that squelched her effervescence," and "always making her feel like a failure."

This was one part of this conversation that I can't seem to shake. Because I have always prided myself on subscribing to the Pygmalion Effect in Management. I asked her how I made her feel like a failure. "By having to to tell you about what I was doing. By having you correct things that I had done. By having me get marketing's approval before I could print a flyer." I explained that this was an integral part of management, and that I too had to report on my progress and seek approvals before I had anything printed. This concept was lost on her.

The other disconcerting comment that she made was, "You've been this big-whig here for 3 years, you were director of that other company, you've run all these big departments..."

I don't remember much of what she said after that, because I don't consider myself to be a big-whig, director level, successful anything. I'm a manager, for crissakes, so yes, I lead a team to hit corporate objectives. But it's the team that does it and they are the ones that get the credit. Not me. Almost to a fault, I don't self promote. If anything, I second guess myself and consider myself to be mediocre at best. (Hence, the Chains on this-here Woman.)

Big sigh. This situation is so similar to another that I had six years ago. That other supervisor was also a passive aggressive, and she too launched programs with her team by saying, "I don't agree with this but it's what Jill wants so we have to do it." That's about as passive aggressive as it gets. my recently departed sales supervisor I say this:

"You lack managerial courage, and your methodology of blaming me for the new programs and guidelines eroded your credibility with your team. When you position yourself as powerless, people tend to believe it. When you fail to manage your projects, people tend to see it. When you blame others for your failure, people tend to understand the real source of the problem, and recognize the patterns in that person's life. I wish you Good Riddance, sales supervisor. I regret that there was very little that I could do to help you overcome your own worst enemy."