Respect is the first rule of successful management

Dear Joan:
I read your article on how to deal with a hostile employee, in regards to being in a supervisor position. I read all your articles. I think the manager I work for wrote it. I don't have any trust or respect for this manager, so I feel hostile about any feedback she gives me.

I would like you to turn it around please! How would you feel if you were an employee of a manager that is hostile and a game player? Even with her peers she looks for the negative.

My manager was a schoolteacher and she treats us like we are her school kids. She has pets that report to her and these pets don't have to handle the same work load as the rest of the group. Her performance reviews are based on what her pets say about you. When you are off a day or on vacation she tells her pets to bring anything to her that is wrong or to tell her what they disagree with. When you return from vacation or a day off you will be reprimanded or have a memo in your in-tray about errors or disagreements. The case might never be discussed with you for your side of the story. Her pets are always right and you can never have a different opinion. In her memo there will be threats of disciplinary action.

This has caused a lot of stress in the work group. Other employees notice what is going on and will tell you when you return. It is very easy to make mistakes under this kind of stress. There usually is only one victim at a time.

This manager was put on a project for six months and will be returning soon. The work group does not want her to return. Our new manager is great. The new manager has no pets and everyone is equal.

Joan, what kind of manager is this we have? How does she benefit the company by playing power games with employees? She also is playing mind games that could hurt a person for years. There is always two sides to the story. Please help!

You aren't the only one who called or wrote to tell me to take the other side of the story. And, of course, there always is one. Fellow readers complained about managers who made insulting remarks, used cruel sarcasm and used a condescending attitude toward their employees. As a regular reader, you know that I take a dim view of managers who don't treat employees with respect and dignity.

Unfortunately, in this so-called enlightened age, many managers are prehistoric in their understanding of human psychology. Yours appears to be one of them. Here are the tell tale signs that this dinosaur doesn't get it:

1.      Rather than talking with you directly and coaching you on the mistakes you've made, she asks the group to tattle and then leaves a memo in your in-tray about it. This is sneaky and cowardly. You deserve to be treated adult to adult; that is, to engage in a mutually respectful discussion about how the error happened and what to do so future errors are avoided.

2.      The uneven distribution of work is another indication that favoritism is this manager's way of bribing some employees to be her pals while punishing others.

3.      The fact that she relies on your peers for feedback rather than first-hand observation is a signal that she is too removed from what her employees are doing and must rely on peer complaints, which destroys the team.

4.      Other employees besides you have been the victim and they object to the tactics being used.

5.      It appears that the entire work group prefers the new manager and they don't want the former manager to return either.

My advice is to ask the new manager for honest feedback on your performance. I would also ask her to write a summary of that feedback and give you a copy. If, indeed, your attitude, accuracy, and teamwork are excellent while working for the interim manager, but poor under your regular manager, it will be evident to anyone looking in your file where the problem lies. If and when the former manager returns, go to Human Resources and discuss a transfer or leave before she terminates you. In the meantime, manage your own hostility. It can only hurt your case because it makes you look like the problem.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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