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Dealing with difficult line manager

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Tinkerbell999, Sep 19, 2020.

  1. Tinkerbell999

    Tinkerbell999 New commenter

    I’ve started a new position in a MAT. I work well with most of the staff apart from one who seems to really have not taken it well to me starting and my job role.

    They are making things difficult for me such as not giving me the right stuff to enable me to carry out my job properly, they want me to go through for them for everything (not logistically possible long term) and they appear to micromanage.

    I have asked them numerous times for X,Y,Z and they find a way to get out of doing it for whatever reason leaving me stuck and unable to do my job.

    I’m not comfortable with what they are asking me to do as it could potentially leave me vulnerable at some point and again I don’t know why they won’t allow me to carry out an aspect of my job. It would reduce their workload whilst allowing me to do mine? After all I was employed to take some of the stress off of them!?

    the issue is they seem to have a lot of control and are well thought of from a MAT perspective. Senior leaders all speak positively of them and all the work they’ve done for the school and how they’ve transformed it and bent over backwards for them.

    I heard though a few people that the job was created specifically for them which ruffled a lot of feathers which makes me think they have quite tight ties with senior leaders.

    I want to speak to someone about it as it is starting to bother me and having an impact on my wellbeing and not only that I’m not being allowed to do something I was employed to do. I want to speak to senior member of staff but I don’t think they will want to know. It appears that they don’t like people “causing trouble”

    I feel really trapped as I can’t seem to raise the issue with anyone without the fear of coming across as causing an issue. I’m also still in probation period.
    Any advice?
  2. asnac

    asnac Lead commenter

    You're not being very specific (maybe to protect yourself from being identified) but that does make it harder to advise you. Not giving you "the right stuff to enable me to carry out my job properly" could be anything from a broom to PPE to exercise books to class lists.

    In the absence of more information, my suggestion would be that you ensure that your requests for the things you need are recorded in an email exchange, so that if you are later challenged on why you didn't do this or that, you can point out that you were not provided with the materials in spite of requests.

    Have you spoken to them directly about wanting more autonomy? It's a perfectly reasonable thing to discuss with them, but be prepared for them to respond with their reasons why they don't yet fully trust you to do the job.
    SundaeTrifle, blazer and phlogiston like this.

    ACOYEAR8 Star commenter

    I guess I'd say just two things here.
    Always keep an e-mail thread of everything -including your requests etc.
    Remember that the position of the LM depends on how well you perform your own duties around the school. If you fail then that's bad management on the LM's part.
    There's too much micro-management at the moment as they've all been starved during lockdown and likely to have had an excess of time to reflect on how they would do it differently -always a bad thing at the best of times. Remember those ? :oops:
    Mehra, caress, SundaeTrifle and 5 others like this.
  4. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    If a lot of this is happening in informal chats, then you could follow these up with emails to them along the lines of
    "thanks for the chat earlier. Just to confirm that you are unable to do X because of Y so instead I should do Z. "
  5. Tinkerbell999

    Tinkerbell999 New commenter

    yes it’s very difficult as it’s quite specific issue but for example if I need phone numbers, attendance figures I can’t access them. They want me to go to them for that information. Which in my opinion is trivial and a waste of time.

    I don’t understand why people need trust. I interviewed and was hired to do the job at hand so why do people feel the need to “ trust” when all
    Micromanaging does is make people ineffective
  6. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Lots of good advice above. I can't think of much to add other than trying to understand your LM so you can work with them.
    Often micromanagement is down to a fear of losing control, this may be down to anxiety after being let down big time in the past or it may be down to mild ASD, or some other factor entirely. You were recruited to "take some stress of them". Some people like the buzz of stress so much, they won't ever let go of it. This of course is very difficult for you, because they really don't want you to do the job you were employed for.
    Maybe you need a third party to talk to.
    blazer and asnac like this.
  7. Tinkerbell999

    Tinkerbell999 New commenter

    Yes exactly but I can’t really talk to the third party because they constantly sing the praises of the person I’m struggling with. I feel it’s not a win win situation for me anyways!
  8. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    You, as an employee have a right to be taken seriously. 3rd party as a manager has a duty to see all sides of the person. I've seen positive and negative characteristics in many of the folk I've worked with over the years. I don't often make a fuss over the negative ones, but I guess I didn't "big up" the plonkers.
  9. frodo_magic

    frodo_magic Occasional commenter

    It's a new job? You've been there a week and you are on here posting that your line manager isn't faaiirrrrr? Give it a few months. Take your time to learn the new processes and demands. Take some time to build working up relationships. A week in a new pressure cooker environment is a bit soon to be complaining about things or people.
    Pomza likes this.
  10. Tinkerbell999

    Tinkerbell999 New commenter

    Sorry Frodo but I’ve been there 6months. Obviously starting during lockdown has delayed working closely together but it’s been a while this is why I’m struggling now.
  11. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    If you need phone numbers and attendance figures and you cannot access them, then on some level in the shcool somebody will be proud to have created a secure set of data which you cannot access and somebody "above you" can. And this person above you will be proud to hold that information and know that people "below them" cannot.
    Yes, it might be trivial and it might be a waste of time, but these are the hierarchies in which we function and you need to play ball in jumping through this specific hoops.

    If people on the other hand do not provide the info when you ask it, it is time to get passive aggressive; email requests for info and copy in both your line manager and theirs. Explain why you want the info and when you want it by (eg end of tomorrow) and that will help. Like a magic wand-try it.
    These are ridiculous protocols, but they are also pretty conventional by now. People are highly paid for guff like this and you need to roll with it.
    Your opinion in the bit I quoted as "trivial and a waste of time" needs to stay completely under wraps, especially as you state you are on probation. Perhaps this will make a small difference.
    phlogiston likes this.
  12. Tinkerbell999

    Tinkerbell999 New commenter

    would the other line managers wonder why they’ve been copied in? See I’ve thought about doing that but often feel it can be quite “petty” but is that what’s needed in schools? I’m not sure.
    SundaeTrifle likes this.
  13. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    I gave that advice because it is what works in my experience for your stated issue, which was getting information that you need to do your job.
    Take it or leave it, obviously. Make a judgement call.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2020
  14. Tinkerbell999

    Tinkerbell999 New commenter

    No I think it’s solid advice and I’ve seen it been done and used many of times in different scenarios but I know when it’s happened to colleagues in previous jobs they are often fuming if someone’s copied in their line manager...

    I just don’t want to poke the bear too much! :D
    SundaeTrifle likes this.
  15. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    That sort of info should surely be available through the school MIS, SIMS or whatever you have. Self-service is the way forward there!
  16. meggyd

    meggyd Star commenter

    Dl you have meetings with the LM? Can you produce some notes..maybe not official minutes or agendas ....of what you hope to discuss and how it will be implemented. Ie: Hi Cyril, when we meet on Thurs could you show me where X is on the system and how I do Y? (A bit of feigned ignorance may be needed. )Then afterwards. Thanks for your help Cyril, now I can get Z to you by next month as it seems that this is due according to the calendar. Is there anything else I need get ready for next month? Maybe we can sort this out when we meet next week. (Thank Cyril and grovel a bit here. )
    phlogiston likes this.
  17. Tinkerbell999

    Tinkerbell999 New commenter

    yes it is but I haven’t been granted access. I literally have to ask them for everything!! Which is not time efficient for both. I can save walking and save disrupting them from their work but clearly they like waste both of our time.
  18. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    You'd think.
    I have worked in a school where one of the SLT was the only person who could access certain innocuous sets of data, attendance being one of them. And if you needed to know, you had to ask.
    I wont need to add that it was the sort of school to bandy their data about like a weapon-every measure of anything was manipulated into a PR statement about how good the place was.
    The secrecy around accessing the stuff when needed was a pest, but as I said, in some places it is somebody's baby which they are highly paid to keep.

    Phone numbers for students' home contact is another matter, I agree, you ought to be able to find them somehow yourself.
  19. Tinkerbell999

    Tinkerbell999 New commenter

    Yes your exactly right!! I’m just having to play ball. Although, I need to get used to copying people into emails.

    is it normal culture in schools to copy every man and his dog into an email!?
  20. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    People want to show their managers that they are doing their job because there is no trust. And people also need to pressurise others with the threat of looking as if they are not doing their job. Having others copied in to emails leaves an evidence trail of both of these things.

    None of this snitchy snitchy relates to teacher skill or the progress and success of the children, which in our world beating education system is a poetic waste of time, isn't it? It's just solidifying hierarchy and disparity of pay-the less you are paid,the more likely you are to have your managers copied in to every request you receive. The more you are paid, the more likely you are to be receiving irrelevant emails about other people.

    Don't forget to issue the occasional "fun" email, where you reply to a snotty request with one word and "accidentally" copy in Allstaff.

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