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Competitive employee - would value any advice!

By Guitarist_7 ·
I'm responsible for a small IT team of 3 (including myself) and am having difficulty with one of the members of the team. I try to discuss as many aspects with the team as possible, but lately one individual is becoming increasingly competitive/argumentative with me about anything I feel we should discuss as a group. I welcome the feedback and genuinely want to hear different points of view, but ultimately it falls to me to make the decision. e.g. we had a discussion which in my view descended into an argument about the corporate standard for e-mail accounts - whereas I'd taken onboard some of his suggestions but not all he constantly believed all of his methods were correct and would not take onboard the view of others at all (the other 2 of us were in agreement). A couple of days ago the 3rd team member approached me and said he thought this individuals attitude was "pathetic" as he seemed to be arguing just to win an argument rather than discussing or offering a solution. Apparently after I'd left the office he'd spent an hour trying to prove a small point by searching through all of our stock for a telephone adapter (to try and prove I'd already bought one that I was intending to purchase).

This guy is very competitive and I'm also aware he has been given tasks to do from higher ups (my boss) in the company which he takes on and has then had another member of the team complete but he has claimed credit for (I have proof of this happening on 3 separate occasions now). This concerns me as the view from the board of directors is that this individual is doing an excellent job, and so more work is delegated directly to him which he then asks me/others about - as his boss I feel obligated to help him with them but can't say I'm happy about providing solutions which he then takes credit for. I can't see a way of telling higher ups/HR without coming off as unprofessional or a poor manager. I've discussed all of this with him privately on two separate occasions now but his attitude is "That's the way I am. You'll have to deal with it."

Any thoughts? I'd like to see what you think, I really don't know what to do for the best...

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Document

by maecuff In reply to Competitive employee - wo ...

all your conversations with this person. And when he says that "it's the way he is and you have to deal with it". I would suggest that you tell him that he does not have a firm grip on the nature of your relationship.

It's not a sign of weakness to bring it to your boss that you are having issues with this employee. Arm yourself with documentation. Lay it out without rancor, just present the facts. Depending on your policy, I'd tell your boss that you would like to begin some sort of disciplinary action.

If you don't do SOMETHING you're going to lose the respect of your entire team. You're the boss, you can't allow one of your employees to bully you.

I speak from experience, and I know how difficult this can be. While I know all people are not the same, it has been my experience that when you firmly deal with a bully, they show their true colors and they back down.

Good luck!

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not competitive, a snake.

by Locrian_Lyric In reply to Competitive employee - wo ...

Document, document, and then document some more.

This jerk WILL end up knocking you out of the box. If he's allowed to continue, he WILL make you, and everyone who confronts him look like it is out of professional jealousy.

If someone else does the work, document it, and what they did, how long they spent on it, and then (before the work is completed) send out a very nice congratulatory email, with higher ups CCed, thanking the employee who did the REAL work.

That will send a message to ALL concerned without looking petty or vindictive.

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People Management

by kugank In reply to not competitive, a snake.

It is a test of your management skills.Does the Senior Management have confidence in you ? If the specific individual happened to get the feeling that they give more importance to him than you , then that's the root of the problem. My personal opinion is that he can only do this to you if he doesn't respect you. If the Senior Management has confidence in you , it is a matter of documenting your one on ones with this individual and then informing the senior management after few one on ones that despite you telling him what is expected , he is adamant and this will have an adverse impact on the team.

If nothing works because of politics, the best way is to reduce his responsibilities gradually and make him feel like a useless dumbo with only repetitive tasks to do which means he has to go to the senior management and then you can respond to the senior management with all the proofs.

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Management Support

by felipevenanciop In reply to People Management

You need help from your management.
If your new in the position or company, your management should support you with this situation.

1)Some years ago. I was very competitive, I liked to show to my boss that I had knowledge and sometimes discussed with him, just to impress him, becuase I would like to be his number one. Maybe this the problem.

2)Other situation. This guy want a promotion and don't like you.

Tks,
Felipe

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even better

by little wheel In reply to not competitive, a snake.

I have been in this manager's boat as well. I would have sent the email out with a BCC to higher ups so thay could see him take the credit for work he hadn't done. As the old saying goes, what goes around comes around. I have never claimed responsibility for anything someone else did. In fact, whenever my group receives kudos, I alsways defer to the team having made a great product.

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Head on

by JamesRL In reply to Competitive employee - wo ...

This problem is not going away by itself.

Its also not isolated to you and the employee - it affects your whole team. Not dealing with it will raise morale issues with the other team members.

I hate to use the phrase in case it offends, but we have a term called the "come to jesus" meeting. You need to confront them, this employee needs to confess and acknowledge their "sins" and promise to work with you on improvement. You have to outline the consequences of an unsuccessful resolution - termination.

But before you do this, you need to get buy in from your boss and perhaps HR. You need to discuss the problem with them, and outline your proposed course of action. You need their support and their buy in, in case the worst happens. The worst being this employee decides to deny everything and fight you at every turn. If that happens you have to terminate.

I've been councelled to terminate employees before, and have managed to work through the issues and avoid termination. In other cases, the employee saw that they could not have their way and quit(they thought the grass was greener, but it wasn't).

There may be external factors - stress at home for example. There may be some issue that is really bigging this employee and this is there way to cope. Build a plan of action, get your boss to sign off, and have the one on one discussion.

You should also talk to your boss about not goign around you when assigning work - that undercuts your authority.

Good luck, this is not easy stuff.

James

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Task assignement

by jdclyde In reply to Head on

is there a paper trail for projects when they are assigned? Do you and your people have to justify and bill your time?

How it the time being accounted for that is used by you and your workers when they are doing the task that HE was assigned, and is in turn turning around taking credit for?

I would make a point of complementing your other worker for work well done on a project in front of the trouble maker AND your boss.

This needs to be handled head on, and completely out in the open. Have your documentation prepared, and be able to back up anything you say.

Do NOT let yourself get angry.

Do NOT let yourself raise your voice.

Do NOT let him interrupt you.

Remind him when he does, that he is your employee, and will be written up if he doesn't step back and sit down.

In meetings, make it clear you are looking for input, but also make it clear that it is your decision and you will not argue with anyone about it. They can professionally present their best case, and then they shut up and it is over.

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Respect and Boundaries

by TownsendA In reply to Head on

Some of the Posts have good approaches. As many have stated - a one to one is needed. Be as hard as possible on this person. Boundaries and perimeters if not already inherent in Job Descriptions need to be reinforced.
The BoD is also acting unprofessionally by not following reporting lines. Let this person know what is acceptable and what is not acceptable, if he oversteps take disciplinary steps. Let him also know that if he accepts work that comes directly from the BoD without your knowledge, that it is unauthorised work, and may certainly not be delegated. It will also only be completed after hours and that in future you will not accept him taking on this work without your approval. Be careful to follow through and carry out action against the bad egg if necessary or your team will lose faith in you as the leader.
Let the BoD know that you are responsible for this persons work and that they should please let you know if they want your team to handle anything. How can you be responsible for your team if you do not know exactly what they are doing.
I am afraid its the Nike approach.
Best Wishes

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Unfortunate alpha-dog issue

by jnewsom In reply to Head on

Great thread! I have also been in the same boat before and extend my sympathy. I run an IT shop for a small company that is the same size as your operation, 3 people. The suggestions I have seen here are all excellent so far. I had a guy like this a few years ago to deal with, and he eventually parted ways with us. I suggest a combination of things mentioned by others in this thread.

Firstly, if you haven?t already, begin a formal, documented, progressive disciplinary process. Document each time you counsel this person, the nature of the conflict, and objective, measurable goals for improvement. This person?s unchecked behavior is hurting the morale of your department and undermining your own authority.

Deal with the unearned taking of credit and the flow of assignments. Another person suggested an excellent move, which is to send out e-mail notifications of thanks to the real person who did the work as if you know nothing about the credit stealing. It thwarts the behavior, and you look completely innocent. The unorthodox flow of assignments from higher-ups needs to stop, and you have to have a talk with your bosses. It?s probably interfering with other jobs that really have a higher priority and that?s the tack to take. ?Because you put Joe on X, we couldn?t get Y done which you?ve agreed was very important. It?s important for me to know what my people are working on so I can make sure the important stuff gets done first.?

Third, and hardest, is to directly and publicly confront the bad behavior. You may not have to do this very often, but it will need to be done. You?ll have to publicly slap him down when he?s out of line. I had this exact conversation one time and hard as it was, it helped. I said something to this effect:

?Here?s the deal. Once the decision has been made, you need to remember I?m your boss. If I tell you to do something you don?t agree with, you still have to do it. If I?m wrong, you get to tell me you told me so, but you still have to do what I ask.?

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Deal With Upper Management and Employee

by Wayne M. In reply to Competitive employee - wo ...

The first thing you need to do is to re-establish your authority. Upper management should not be bypassing you nor should your report be tasking his peers with work. This creates confusion on who is in charge, leading to some of the other issues.

Go talk to whoever is tasking this individual outside of your chain of command. Politely request that either all work requests go through you or the staff member be transferred to the higher ups direct control.

Inform the staff member of the agreement with upper management and request him to refer all work requests to you for assignment. Explicitly tell him to reply, "I must refer this request to my supervisor," and then tell you of the request.

Inform the staff member that he does not have the authority to task his peers. If he needs assistance to complete any task that you assign him, he is to request it from you.

Make a regular practice of reporting your team's accomplishments to upper management. It is your responsibility to ensure that credit is fairly and officially reported. Conflicting information should be enough of a key for higher ups to dig into the details.

Bypassing the chain of command is one of the more destructive things that upper management can do. It creates confusion over who is responsible for what and what range of authority individuals may have. My feeling is that upper management is more responsible for this problem than the staff member (who took advantage of the situation), and the upper management must be reminded of their responsibilities to you as a supervisor.

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