We like our jobs but toxic manager is gutting us. It feels awful because we can't perform to our full potential when she's around and feel like we have no career prospects. How can we help ourselves?
posted by swimmingly to Work & Money (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I work with a small team and we report to one manager. She is fairly new at managing and only moved up into the number one role in the division slightly over a year ago.
Her management style includes:
1. Consistently not giving clear instructions. Her sentences often beat around the bush and fail to include nouns/subjects, almost as though she expects us to read her mind.
2. A habit of talking over the ends of our sentences and trying to complete them for us. If I say, "I don't think this will work", she will say "work" a split second after I start saying the word. This is more like a personal tic rather than a management tactic, admittedly, but it suggests lack of listening.
3. Doesn't seem to be able to stand up to the other managers/bosses at the firm. They have a meeting every day. Prior to the meeting, she will give each of us (vague) instructions on what to do for the day. Typically, after the meetings, she often returns with a different set of objectives and instructions, based on the comments from the others. Again, she fails to communicate the new instructions clearly, which often results in last-minute changes.
4. Tends to overcommit my team, during these meetings. She will often promise things that we cannot reasonably deliver on deadline without superhuman amounts of effort. After we put in this amount of effort, the new project could still die because someone else makes another comment and she wavers again.
5. Gives us a lot of extra work to do, because she is paranoid about what might happen if some projects fall through. In comparison, managers of other similar units in the firm do not feel the need to do this. Often, the extra work gets done, but never actually used by her. So a lot of time and effort is wasted that we could have spent developing our own good projects.
6. Irrational fear of losing her job. This probably is one of the reasons for the overpromising and apparent spinelessness in the face of the other managers/bosses.
7. Tends to panic a lot and passes on the stress to us. When we are working on our individual projects, she will often come around and hover and micromanage. Close to the deadline, she will suddenly think up changes that many of us feel are unnecessary, and make us do them. Doesn't add that much to the overall quality of the project.
8. Because of the overcommitment and constant wavering on her part, it feels as though our tasks and timelines are always being changed. These changes happen with increasing frequency as the original deadline approaches, since she panics.
9. Uses emotional manipulation to make us do more work. For instance, she will say, "If you don't do X, then Bob will have to do it." Then the target employee, who is friends with Bob since we are a tight-knit team, will be guilt-tripped into taking on additional workload. Which may not even be necessary since she might not actually need the extra stuff. Again, it's a "cover my ass" thing for her, at our expense.
10. Tries to put on a sympathetic show whenever she gives us more things to do. For instance, she will come around to our tables, put on a sad face, then ramble on about nothing in particular until she finally comes to the point when she says, "Could you do something about XYZ". We would rather she go straight to the point and not make sad faces at us for several minutes prior.
As a result of the above, we do not feel that she is a manager who will stand up for us, or filter out the crap from the rest of the company. Her tactics are causing us significant amounts of stress, and burnout symptoms. We have lost respect for her as well.
In contrast, when she goes on leave and her deputy takes over, things get so much better for us because the deputy is more confident, calmer, clearer and sharper. We stop feeling miserable all the time and are more productive. However, there is no chance in the near future that she will leave and the deputy will take over.
She has an avoidant personality, which means that she's unlikely to have a chat with us anytime soon. Whether in a group, or one-on-one. She has said before that she feels uncomfortable in situations where she has to sit down and talk with employees. This means that if we want to raise any issues to her, we will have to specifically request a meeting with her, which will likely put her on the defensive.
We do want to have a talk with her on how we can change things, but how can we tell her about the things that are going wrong without making it seem like a personal criticism? (even though it kind of is...) We don't want to offend her or hurt her feelings or put her on the defensive.
However, if having a talk with her is something that we shouldn't presume to do, then what else can we do? Assume that none of us wants to quit purely because of her, and that transfer requests will be denied. So we're kind of stuck in this situation.
Would appreciate any advice you can give. Thanks!