From Allison Green’s Ask a Manager: “I Got a Terrible Review on Glassdoor, and I’m Spiraling”:
The reality is, when you’re a manager, not everyone will like working for you. You could be the greatest boss in the world and some people still wouldn’t like you. Partly that’s because being a good manager means giving feedback, addressing problems, and holding people accountable in ways they might not like. If you need to correct someone a lot, or have difficult conversations with them about their work, or say no to something they wanted, it’s human nature that you might not end up being their favorite person. Or you might have a style that doesn’t align well with theirs — maybe you’re very direct and matter-of-fact and that feels brusque to them, or maybe you’re a planner and a devotee of process and they work more spontaneously. That wouldn’t mean either of you is in the wrong; it would just mean you don’t mesh well together.
Sometimes, too, people dislike a job or a manager for reasons that aren’t as much about the manager as they are about other things going on with that person — a dislike of their career path, stressors outside of work, a generally bad fit with the role, or all kinds of things.
Or, frankly, you might be an imperfect manager — most of us are — but that doesn’t mean you’re a horrible one. Managing people is hard, and every manager will get things wrong now and then. Ideally you’ll establish a track record of fairness, transparency, and good judgment so your mistakes are judged within that context … but you still might encounter an employee who judges your mistakes harshly. You’re basically on a stage when you’re the boss; you’re going to be scrutinized by the people under you, and there will be things they take issue with. It’s part of the job, and you’ve got to be okay with that.
Or, yes, you might be a terrible manager! It’s possible. There are lots of terrible managers out there. But I’m skeptical that you’re terrible in the specific ways the review described (mean and intolerant of mistakes), because your detailed explanation of your approach to mistakes sounds pretty healthy and because you sound genuinely thoughtful and caring toward team members. People can delude themselves, of course, and managers aren’t always reliable narrators of their own management styles. But the way you talk about how you operate — and your reaction now — doesn’t seem to line up with that review or with the feedback people have given your boss about you. That doesn’t mean that review is definitely wrong. I obviously can’t say that with certainty. But I don’t think it warrants the self-flagellation you’re doing.
That said, all managers have ways they could improve — things they’re doing that irritate or upset their teams, or make things run less effectively, or allow problems to fester. I can say with confidence that you could be a better manager, because we all could. So one option is to take this as an impetus to do a real inventory of the way you manage, figure out where you could improve, and lean into doing that work.