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Being Pro-management vs Pro-staff

By four-eyes_z ·
I've always read about how being in middle-management requires one to do a delicate balancing act between being on the side of management and being sensitive to the needs and problems of the staff. I've had the good fortune of working with open-minded and result-oriented C-type people and talented and dedicated I.T. staff. But my previous job as I.T. Manager of an outsourcing company (doing helpdesk, data-processing and software development) made me realize just how difficult it can be to get caught in the middle.

To make a long story short, after successfully getting the I.T. infrastructure of the company to the desired standards (while consistently working within bugdet), and after putting together a top-notch team of developers that worked extremely well together (a very rare melding of minds so to speak). I still ended up being called in by country manager and being called "too pro-staff" and that I had to be on the side of management with regards to how I handle the people. I was even told that I shouldn't get too "comfortable" with the staff such as co-mingling with them or having lunch / dinner with the developers. I was also branded as being too sympathetic to the staff as I was usually defending them when it came to some decisions. And all of this was ended with the casual "I hope you don't harbor any ill feelings against me. I'm just the messenger".

Of course, I defended my actions. I firmly believed that if you kept your staff well-informed, happy and reminded them that their input and contribution to each project was important, you would have a productive team. I reasoned that it was important that I get to know how each of my staff thinks in order for me to effectively manage them. Of course I had to defend them when problems arose, if I didn't defend them, who will? It goes without saying that I had already determined the facts which dictated why I should defend the staff in the first place. How could they call me pro-staff when I've had to personally fire 2 employees (both with very good cause)? If deadlines started to slip, I always explained it to them in terms they could understand and what could be done about it. In reality, most of these problems were usually caused by the CEO and COO talking directly to customers and saying YES to additional specs that weren't in the project requirements document in the first place. I explained that this shouldn't be allowed because the project schedule would be adversely affected. The reply I normally got was: This is all in the name of "getting our foot in the door / good customer relations", and that I should be a good soldier and just find ways of "getting over it".

After all was said and done, I was informed that there was nothing more the country manager could do and that upper management had already decided that I should be "re-assigned" to the role of "I.T. analyst" (at this point, I was saying to myself WTF?), and that they were already bringing in someone who would be given the role of CTO (which I was supposed to be promoted to once I had accomplished my initial assignments, which I successfully finished).

I chose to resign instead. I felt that I got stabbed in the back (screwed if you prefer) after all the effort I put into helping make the company what it is today.

Now I'm employed as a consultant with a much bigger company that actually takes my opinions and what I want to do with my career seriously (and actually does something about it). I've never looked back ever since.

Have you ever been in such a situation? How did you handle it? Please feel free to share any similar experience you may have had regarding.

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