Author Topic: Manager wants to talk about how things are going on the team  (Read 2058 times)

mozar

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Manager wants to talk about how things are going on the team
« on: October 17, 2017, 10:35:07 AM »
This manager is not my manager. She manages another team for the same company. So she's not involved in the day to day. I have a co worker who has been a thorn in my side but I feel like I've gotten as much as I can get out of her, she finally answered my questions after asking her for two weeks. She's also a throw other people under the bus and take credit for other peoples ideas type, which is annoying but as long as everything gets done I don't care. I don't want to seem like I'm complaining. I also don't know if this is what the manager wants to talk about (why are managers always so vague?) I've only been at this job a month and a half.
Any advice on how to handle this?

Goldielocks

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Re: Manager wants to talk about how things are going on the team
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2017, 11:00:26 AM »
Think of 5 things that you like about your work or projects, or are excited about getting a chance to do in future.   Plan these topics and what you would say about them.   When you don't know what to say, talk about these positive things. 

Do not bring up co-worker, yourself.  If asked, plan a mild but truthful, and very short sentence about the core complaint, then ask questions back like "why are you asking?"  or "What is the norm at this company about teamwork, is this usual"  and / or  switch the conversation back to things you do like about your work and your team.   

If co-worker is mentioned and you are specifically asked, you can say, "I have had some challenges too, but this week this [small positive thing with co worker] happened, and given that it is for project X and I am very much looking forward to doing the [insert thing that you get to do], I hope that the team will only get better from here."

The challenge is that you are very new to the organization, for all you know the other manager wants you to switch to her team, discuss joining the bowling league, (sell Amway?), or even that the problem team mate is her niece and she knows she is bad but will protect her at all costs.   Unfortunately, you can't say anything too negative because you don't know your audience.   Any negative (e.g., "She's very quiet and hard to get responses out of that I need to complete my work") needs to be balanced with a positive ("but she seems to get along with the admin staff very well"*, "very adept with social media"**, etc)."

*this is code for "this person does not get the work done, but chats with the admin staff all the time instead.
** This is code for "this person is on snapchat, facebook and ebay all day".

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One other caution-- be prepared with an answer if you are asked to "mentor" or "train" the problem employee, as you are too new to the org. to be a mentor, and if you don't click personally with the employee, training them on a job that they have already had for a while could be a nightmare.  I don't think this is what the meeting is about, but practice a "no" sentence that makes you sound like a reasonable person.   "Let me think on that for a day" is your safety valve, here when you don't now what to say, then ask the manager a question -- "what is the core issue?" etc..

Good luck, let us know how it goes.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2017, 11:02:44 AM by Goldielocks »

Laura33

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Re: Manager wants to talk about how things are going on the team
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2017, 11:41:45 AM »
Well, my guess would be that the other employee has complained that you are difficult to work with, or that you didn't get her information that she needed in time to meet her own deadlines, etc., and her manager therefore wants to talk to you to improve the communications.  If this other employee is very good at throwing others under the bus, she will likely have done a good job of persuading her manager that you are the problem.

The way you handle this is that you are very nice and open and polite, and you say nothing bad about anyone.  If you respond by calling the other employee a liar, that will just convince the manager that you are the problem.  You need a very soft, subtle pushback -- you are very concerned with whatever the issue is, you can see why the other manager is concerned, and you want to do whatever you can to fix the problem. 

E.g., the manager says "Suzie tells me that you were late getting her the XYZ report -- what happened there?"; you respond along the lines of "Really?  Boy, that's problematic -- I can see why you'd be upset about that.  I'm just surprised to hear that she didn't get my report until XX, because I know I had that report finished by YY, and I swear I emailed it to her as soon as I finished.  Let me check my email as soon as we're done so I can see if it got caught up in my outbox."  And then after the meeting, you check your emails, find the one that you sent to Suzie with the report, and forward it to the manager saying "Sorry, I can't explain it -- the attached email says I sent that report on XX date.  Maybe it got caught in a spam folder?"

If it is something that you don't have an immediate answer to, you do the first part of the conversation -- wow, that is a serious issue, I can see why you'd want to talk to me about that -- and then say something like "I have to say, XXX isn't consistent with my recollection.  But I don't want to tell you something that is incorrect, so let me go through my files, and then I will follow up with an email with that information, if that is all right."

Basically, the manager is looking for responsible grownups.  Managers do not want to solve problems -- they want employees that do not create problems in the first place.  Therefore, once a problem has arisen, you want to be the one who is very very concerned about the business implications and more interested in fixing it than assigning blame.  That makes the one who is pointing fingers look juvenile and not aligned with the company's goals.

mozar

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Re: Manager wants to talk about how things are going on the team
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2017, 03:20:13 PM »
Good stuff to think about. Thanks.

mozar

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Re: Manager wants to talk about how things are going on the team
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2017, 03:20:54 PM »
Thanks for your help. The manager wanted to talk about a different topic. Phew!

Goldielocks

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Re: Manager wants to talk about how things are going on the team
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2017, 03:35:03 PM »
Thanks for your help. The manager wanted to talk about a different topic. Phew!

I hope it wasn't "Will you join my MLM?"

LOL

mozar

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Re: Manager wants to talk about how things are going on the team
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2017, 04:05:22 PM »
Naw, she wanted to talk about what I've been working on, and my obnoxious co-worker was really nice to me this week!
I got to say, I really don't know how I would cope with the corporate world without this forum.