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Had been working for a small company for the last few years. Started in a team of 5+ people, which was progressively reduced to just two, as the tasks were less appealing to both people and managers. My last colleague was let go due to some management impressions. Here it is common to work with remote teams in different projects and tasks (tech/non-tech); and having just too many during last year.

With colleagues working in different teams, little overlapping areas among them and a high workload, there was a real lack of work communication with any manager and most workmates -- not only this, but also detachment at both sides. It was only until recently that both 1st/2nd level managers noticed my skills. After closing a conflictive project there was some degree of acknowledge, both in tech and people stuff; followed by a more personal, maybe even trusty approach.

After a talk with my 2nd level manager, it was stated that in order to progress I was expected to solve people skills issues: ranging from assertiveness, grumpiness or public speech to being pals with every colleague and overcome major personal grievance due to some +/- common management directives on team/image building.

I have been considering leaving for a while for a number of reasons (stagnation, salary, attrition, the last issue); yet stood for some other reasons (new tasks, almost no offers on interesting fields, flexibility). People close to me understand the situation in opposed ways: some as a really interesting opportunity to overcome the critical issues, some as 'get the hell out of there and do a favour to your mental health'. I may have identified some signs they do plans for the future, but again, I'm not the best person interpreting situations. Thus, my questions:

  1. Is management implying that a) either those issues are solved or I could be let go, or b) in the best case I would continue stalled?
  2. Can it be a real possibility of improvement (both economically and in other kind of responsibilities/leading team, etc etc) or does it feel like a last-resort request for leaders with experience? (As it may be very common, there are periods of frequent staff turnover and a number of people working is temp, in scholarship or relatively new)
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It seems that they want to try and retain some key staff and at the same time give them more work to do. But don't bet on that.

In your situation I would do my work professionally, but keep aware of everything that is happening as much as possible and be prepared to deal with whichever direction it may go. In my experience when managers suddenly show interest after ignoring you for a long time, it is usually because they need you to do something that is important to them, not because they suddenly recognised how wonderful you are. This may be beneficial for you but that's incidental, mainly it's beneficial to them.

It could be grooming you for a possible promotion, but even then be careful, it's not unheard of to promote someone just to set them up to fail as a scapegoat. So look closely at anything that seems too good to be true.

It could also be preliminary or an excuse for future disciplinary action.

Or it could be a desperation move to get someone in a position of responsibility who can actually get the job accomplished.

The company seems to have some serious issues, so be careful, keep your eyes open and make your judgement call as fully informed as you can be when things come to a head.

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    Thank you for providing your point of view. TBH, the company is typically living to the limit and thus suffering lack of people, unexpected problems, etc. It is also not uncommon that lower-level managers are target of punctual anger after mild failures. Keeping eyes open is definitely needed at all times here, even for nobodies. – Kiddo Jun 25 '16 at 9:07

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