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Inherited IT Staff

By dv370 ·
I have been the IT Director for a small staff of 3 (2 actually and one open position) for 3 months. These guys are making me NUTS! One of them is constantly belittling the other's skills (not entirely wrong all the time) and the one who is belittled is constantly complaining about his work load. I am NOT a hands on manager based upon the fact that my last management position required me to drop my technical skills and only work in an administrative capacity. The Sr. guy here, I believe, looks at that as a huge negative against me. He will side step everything I say and will interject his opinions even after I have made a firm and final decision. They had been allowed to more or less come into the office at any time in the morning, sometimes not until 10am, and feel that's appropriate service to our users as long as someone has their cell phone number to call in case of an emergency. I do not manage that way, nor will I.

I left IT Management once due to the high stress and the effects it had on my health and family life. I do NOT want to get back into that same rut.

How do you handle staff that you have inherited in this manner and have you been able to turn it around into a positive, well defined team environment?

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Inheritances don't necessarily make you rich

by amcol In reply to Inherited IT Staff

That title doesn't have anything to do with your question or my answer, but it sounded kinda funky. Be that as it may...

You should read some of the responses in the thread called "Managing a loud and obnoxious subordinate". Same situation, different people.

Your problem is not your staff, your problem is you. You're not managing. You're not leading. You're letting your staff run roughshod all over you. Consider:

1. You have a belittler and a complainer. Are either of them actually working? Have you sat down with them and made sure you have a mutually understood position description and documented set of job responsibilities? Are you making them meet with you weekly, write status reports to you weekly, be accountable for their actions weekly? Don't EXpect what you don't INspect. If you're truly managing them, if they're truly working and being productive, they'll not only have less time for belittling and complaining they'll both be a bit happier about life in general.

2. You are not SUPPOSED to be a hands on manager. Don't apologize for that, don't feel guilty for that. You lost your technical skills. Great. Did you develop some business skills to replace them?

3. Why are YOU ALLOWING the senior guy to sidestep you, to do what he wants after you've made a management decision? He's doing it because you're allowing it, no other reason. Put your foot down. He does what you say. Period. You're the manager, he's the staffer. When he gets to be the manager that's when he gets to do things his way. If he doesn't like that situation he can transfer out, find another job, go into another field, go climb a mountain, do whatever he wants. But as long as he's working for you, HE'S WORKING FOR YOU.

4. Why are YOU ALLOWING them to continue to come into the office whenever they feel like it? Do you have documented SLA's with your customers? If not, why not? And what are you waiting for? Make your people perform to those SLA's, not based on what they feel is appropriate. There's no room for feeling in here, you must set down measurable guidelines to which you hold your people responsible.

The stress you're feeling, and the stress that once drove you from IT management, is of your own doing. That's actually good news, because it means you can do something about it. Find your backbone, stiffen it, and MANAGE. You can worry about leadership later on.

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Well rather a one sided

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Inherited IT Staff

description of your new team. Are they really that bad or has your department factionalised.
For instance new manager & new managees is chnage and theerfore threat on both sides.
I aren't judging you or them but the oicture you paint you night as well sack the lot of them for being shiftless wasters which is a position while possible isn't very probable.
For instance while rolling in at ten or when the phone goes, does said phone go off out of hoyurs and do they respond, do they get paid anything for being on call.
When your senior who you freely admit is now more hands in than you get's overruled on what basis an in what area. To me there's a suggestion of entrenched attitudes on both sides, personally I'd suggest a departmental knees up, a few ales don the neck and some frank discusion with no fear of reprisals. You aren't going to get anywhere until both sides start listening as well as talking.

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by The Admiral In reply to Inherited IT Staff

As copied and pasted from another Discussion:

An impossible employee is always a challenge, granted, but you have to understand coming from a technical area that you are now in a management position, and the company expects you to fulfill your obligations for that position. There are a few steps that you should take when dealing with ?Loud Larry? or, in your case, ?Loud Lisa?.

First, you have to understand that he or she is an intimidator. These are the people who will air their dirty laundry to everyone to make you look like the bad apple, when you are being as nice as humanly possible. This is the person who can and will disrupt the entire nature within your company. As with any intimidator, they drag a lot of baggage with them such as hate, deceit, trickery, and will disrupt the normal flow if they can. These are also people who tend to get on the nerves of other people, but because the other people are either afraid of being termed the rat, not a team player, or told that it is a problem with them, they just look and not say a word. Their ego is bigger than their education or in some cases their common sense.

Second, the intimidator is a very ambitious person. It is your job as a manager of this person to understand the reason why they are loud and ambitious by having a formal one-on-one with each person and determine their goals in their career, and understand your role in allowing them to reach those goals. But the intimidator is out for their own good, and not that of the team. I have often told management when I was in that position that you can not play as a team if you are the only one playing on it. When you look at their actions, you will see that their history shows that they have done everything to benefit their own goals and objectives.

Third, these kind of people attempt to dominate everyone around them, and at some point in time will to some extent, the important part is that you can manage these people. You, being the manager and new, were probably caught like a deer in the headlights and were caught off guard, making yourself an easy target. What they will do is dominate based on becoming the center of attention, having in their own mind that they need to be the center of the universe.

Fourth, you have to understand that these types of people are the kind who lack self-control needed to keep their impulses in check. They lack the internal controls to keep their actions, or control their actions, the same about compulsive liars, thieves and obsessive compulsive behavior.

Here is how to manage the people that the intimidator reaches:

First, observe the interactions between the intimidator and the targeted employee. Determine if this may be a case or teasing, or pulling a chain or if the intimidator is harassing or bullying the target employee.

Second, listen to the company grapevine. This is the all-out indicator as to what is going on, what everyone is saying, and gives you and idea as to how the other employees feel. This is NOT a place to start taking action, it is only a milestone mark as to where you need to go from now.

Third, look for signs of tardiness, absentees, or a lack of drive from other employees or wanting to leave, transfer out, or change shifts to get away from dealing with the intimidator.

Fourth, check to see if people are having problems that they can not explain such as sweating/shaking, feeling/being sick, sleep deprivation, loss of appetite, anxiety or depression or even symptoms of withdrawing from the team such as irritability, withdrawn or aggressive or defensive, or signs of alcohol abuse.

If all of these shows that the person has done something that would be construed as intimidation by the person, then you need to take steps to stop it.

Have a private meeting with the employee with a peer manager. This meeting can occur at any time, but it is important that you follow these items:

1. Look the employee in the eye
2. Talk slowly and surely to ensure that what you are saying is being heard.
3. Do not raise your voice or conduct yourself in an aggressive manner.
4. Do not allow the intimidator to become loud or the situation gets out of hand.
5. Take control over the environment.

At the start of the meeting tell the intimidator what you have observed and been made aware of through different avenues. This puts everyone on the same level, and it puts the ball in their playing field. Then tell them where you stand or the company stands when it comes to harassment and the possibility of what be perceived as harassment or violence in the workplace and how their actions or their unintended meanings of words fall under those areas. Explain to them that as a leader of the group that you may be forced by the corporate guidelines to take actions such as suspension, demotion, transfer or removal against them to remedy the situation. As the manager you must be straightforward in your approach to the problem, don?t be politically correct and beat around the bush, since that tends to take the edge of seriousness away from the problem. Focus your energies on correcting the poor behavior!!!

As a manager it is up to you to advise them in how you want to see their attitude change toward a more team focused environment and that you will assist them in getting to sensitivity classes or anger management or other counseling. In some companies, they offer counseling for issues such as this.

It is important that you keep this professional and not show any emotion such as disgust or anger toward the employee, but talk very firmly. No matter what their excuse is, ensure that you re-enforce that:

? Such behavior does not have anyone?s interest at heart
? Affects the company?s bottom line by putting undue pressure on others.
? Lowers Morale to a point where people don?t care about their job.
? People do go postal over situations because of the added pressure
? That all employees have the right to dignity, and that everyone has principles as to how they act toward one another.
? No one has the right to inject their subjective intervention in relation to their privacy, home, family or employment.

These items may stick in there for a little bit, but you have to persevere in making sure that at meetings their voice is heard when it comes to how to further the team. You also have to be vigilant in that anyone else in management does not become targets of the intimidator.

When the meetings are done, then have the peer manager meet with you on how well you performed, have him or her critique what you said and if they have any other constructive comments about your situation. That gives you an idea about how to handle situations later on as well.

The important thing is to keep it high level and not a shouting match. Then, after the meeting, the person can then decide what their next move is. Then schedule sensitivity training for the entire team, not just for the intimidator. You then build the team.

If the behavior continues, you can then have the same peer manager come in and sit down to re-enforce what you stated above, and if it is not working out, it is time to get HR involved.

When it is all done and over with, you will look honest, fair, and someone your employees can look up to be unbiased when other situations come up.

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