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Middle Management

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I’ve never thought of myself as a coffee freak, but maybe I am. I just got a new “Psych” coffee cup (actually 2 – one for me, one for the hubby). But, I recently found the one thing that I’ve been searching for for like EVER! Coffee candy. I had one at a restaurant when leaving once, and I’ve been searching ever since. Have no fear, coffee candies are here! Found them at Whole Foods (on a candy rack at the front of the store.) Made by Bali’s Best, the package indicates you can also find them at http://www.fusiongourmet.com. They’re not crazy sweet. 15 calories per (no fat). And I really only have 1 per day. Have them in this cute little bowl on my desk, and even I don’t go crazy over them (imagine having a bowl of mini Peppermint Patties — those’d go QUICK)!

Reviewed some feedback with my boss today during our 1:1. Back in May-ish I was signed up to do a Management Essentials training course put on by my company. Everyone at my level is supposed to do it. I perform a self-assessment, then my manager and the people who report to me do the same, and it kind of grades you. Of course, my “level 4” performance is different than someone else’s, but that’s why they have so many people do it, in order to get a good average. Unfortunately, though it was done in May, I didn’t actually get the results until September, which is irritating, since I could have been working on changing people’s perceptions of me and how I manage this whole time. But, I digress.

Anyway, I wasn’t really surprised by the results — in general, everyone’s ratings were good. But at the time, I was managing 4 people. One of those has since gotten a promotion, and another has moved to another team — at her request. The latter of those 2 people did not like me as a manager very much. And she slammed me in the “anonymous” feedback — when everyone else’s written comments are positive, and even her “positive” feedback is really negative — it’s not that hard to figure it out. I wish I could have a re-do with the 4 people I actually manage now! :(

Positive feedback (What do you consider to be this individual’s outstanding strengths?):
* Strong technical expert, organizational skills, problem solving and issue resolution
* Provides good leadership of the team, motivates and ensures cohesive group
* Articulate and confident, ensures clear direction
* Provides honest & constructive feedback
* Excellent communication
* Establishes clear expectations
* Supports the team and responds to issues that are escalated
* Great ideas when dealing with situation (especially during crisis mode)
* Takes appropriate risks
* Is very knowledgeable and good resource to bounce ideas off
* Good at leveraging peoples’ strengths and putting people in the right place to be successful. Also good at leveraging peoples’ differences

I think this last one is the “best” for me — in that it makes me feel good about the work that I do, knowing that at least 1 person on my team (who reports to me) feels that I make them shine.

One piece of “positive feedback” was: Performance as an individual.
I take issue with this — and maybe I shouldn’t. But, in my role, I don’t really get to do anything as an individual. I’m the epitome of a middle manager — and we’re in a matrix environment. So I have 4 people who report to me, who are responsible for projects, but I’m not really “responsible” for any of those (even though I’m responsible for all of them — does that make sense?). So my performance as an individual doesn’t EVER come into account. And it hasn’t for years. I don’t really get this — but I know it’s feedback from the one person who wasn’t super thrilled with me.

Negative feedback (What do you consider to be this individual’s areas for development or derailment factors?):
* Needs to continue to refine her communication skills cross functionally when she disagrees with others. It is important that she be able to express a difference of opinion without coming off as over-bearing. (This was from my manager — and he’s right. He mentioned today that I’ve definitely gotten better at being more “political”, but that I need to keep working. And, he’s right!)
* Continue to develop skills for managing difficult people (True!)
* I would prefer to see her communicate feedback more than the required 2x per year at mid-year and end-of-year reviews (Working on that!)
AND
3 people commented on the same idea – which really opened my eyes to see that I tend to take over. It’s difficult because as their manager, I assume they’re brining me an issue to resolve — maybe it’s more that they just want me to know about it, while they’re resolving it. Definitely something to work on and watch out for:
* Lara is very decisive, which is a good trait, however occasionally she needs to take into consideration other team members’ views.
* Being more open/accepting to differing ideas or solutions that may not be the way that Lara would have handled an issue.
* Being sensitive to issues that a team member feels is important, but where Lara doesn’t give it the same weight
* Sometimes does not take the time to gather all of the facts or information before making a decision.
* Lara can be quick to react without letting her direct reports try to resolve issues
And the one that really shook me:
* Performance as a manager of others (needs to balance criticism with praise, she talks over others, there is an appearance that she is trying very hard to gain attention for her efforts when as a manager her efforts should be to highlight the work of her direct reports.)

Not only do I disagree with this, I think it’s hurtful — basically the statement is that the one thing that will derail me is my JOB?!? (My job is to manage others — if my derailer is the “management of others” I am totally screwing up). That’s just not fair — especially if this is the first that I’ve seen/heard of this.
1) If you’ve screwed up, I’m not going to balance my “criticism” of you with praise. It’s just going to be feedback. I’m not going to sugar coat it just to make you feel good. If there’s some “praise” to give, I’ll give it.
2) I think that I’m very respectful of people as they’re talking — unless they interrupt me, then I get angry.
3) But the worst part is the fact that this person thought that I was trying to steal the glory or something. Regardless, my job is NOT to make them look good. My job is to ensure that the projects get done. While to be successful I need to build up my Associates and Managers at the same time, to state that my purpose for coming to work every day is to highlight someone else’s work? Please.

Steps Forward
Scheduling a meeting with the 4 people who report to me now, to go over all the feedback. I think that this will be really helpful (especially for the idea that I tend to make decisions too quickly without taking into account the experiences of others). I’m hoping that since we have 2 new people on the team, that the discussion will go well — the one person who provided the feedback that I don’t like won’t be there. BUT, I do want to discuss the feedback to see if there are things that I could be doing differently — if I person perceived me in that manner, I am not too short sighted to see that others could see the same. And I need to fix that!

Phew. Probably more information that I really should share outside of work, but it’s kind of got my tummy in a rumble. I don’t like it when people give me bad feedback — I just “want them to want me”. :( I wish it were always fuzzy unicorns and cotton candy here at work — I guess I live in the real word. Maybe I’ll have another coffee.

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About TresLaLa

I'm really just a thin girl with a lot of extra padding...

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