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Managing a loud and obnoxious subordinate

By anyhelpwouldbegreat ·
Ever so often I struggle to manage one of my people. I've just turned 30 and this person is in their mid 40's. I've been her manager for just under a year, and started with the company as her manager, whereas she's been here 5yrs.

This person is loud and likes to try to trip me up (loudly), when she knows the office is an open one, where the conversations can be over heard. I do have regular meetings (weekly updates) away from the environment, but she just likes to try to prove she's right about things that she so obviously isn?t, but because of the noise I back down, because I?m quite reserved, and basically not that kind of person.

People try to look like they get on with her, and there is so much bitching about anyone and everyone you wouldn?t believe.

The company has recently come to some trouble and recovered from Ch11. Her position/ team was moved elsewhere (the helpdesk) and she moved into desktop, being one of the few to stay.

I've come from an IT background, am used to managing younger peers, and am highly educated, whereas her snippets are from experience on the job, although she misses so many obvious things that are staring her in the face.

Often when I?m being nice, and mentor her it's shrugged off and feelings of 'I know that' etc. It's very hard to manage such a person.

Does anyone have any thoughts?

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by vltiii In reply to Is that the situation tho ...

Actually it was never said her peers had her respect. What was said is that they act like they try to get on with her and that there is quite a bit of bitching going on. That sounds to me as if her peers tolerate her more than anything. Whatever is happening, something does need to be done in that department.

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Sorry! Badly worded!

by kevaburg In reply to Respect

I was actually talking about the author having the respect. In all respects of the scenario it would seem she is the cause of the bickering that is mentioned.

It must be said though: The more I read of the threads posted here, the more I am inclined to believe she should be sacked and let that be the end of it.

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Resolving Workplace Disputes

by lfuhrmann In reply to Is that the situation tho ...

I recommend having a Conflict Resolution Specialist mediate between the supervisor and the individual. A collaborative solution is always a better and longer lasting solution.

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Oh not again

by Baal In reply to Resolving Workplace Dispu ...

Is it any wonder IT 'Managers' are not seen as actual 'Managers' by their peers. Why must the solution always be along the lines of reprimand, sack or hand the problem to HR? This person however obnoxious she appears obviously either has friends higher up the ladder or has proved she can make a valuable contribution to the company (thats why shes still there. She 'had' a comfort zone (5 years) but that has been disrupted by change of role and change of Manager. You should sit down with her (and not hidden away in a private room) and acknowledge to her that you both seem to have got off on the wrong foot. Acknowledge that she has great value to you (she has 5 years company exp)and explain that you have found it difficult to draw on her expertise in company related instances because 'you' believe that your approach is misinterpreted. 'Ask' her what you can do to repair the situation and reach a compromise. Have a similar meeting (individually tailored) with each of your department members, then have a full team meeting and explain that you have now listened to and accepted everyones input to how the department can work better together. Explain that above all else you are all professionals and the dept must be seen as prof by all other employees of the company. You believe that by presenting a solid team approach and supporting one another the dept can move forward and show the rest of the company that above all else the IT dept is a professional team. Then tell them that you are going to appoint a team captain position which each person will have a chance to wear the cap. Each week the Team capt is appointed in turn (either alphabeticaly or similar that gives your 'obnoxious' employee third shot at the role - never first or last) the capt has the responsibility of maintaining morale and sorting out tasks etc for their week. Each other member gets a turn to vote on how they did at the end of the week. When every member has been in the role a team meeting can be called where each one tells of their experience and the others can give their verdict on how they did. Eventually all staff members will be aware of each others 'people' skills or failings. After nearly 30 years of doing this I can honestly say I have always (yes always) ended up with the best team I could have asked for - Remember 'Everyone' has a value you just have to let them show it.

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by vltiii In reply to Resolving Workplace Dispu ...

By bringing in a Conflict Resolution Specialist, the manager is essentially stating that she has failed and cannot handle the situation. Bringing in a specialist is an option, but it should be the last option when all else has failed. Even in a last effort situation, I'm not particulary keen on bringing in someone else to resolve personnel problem especially when it sounds as if it's a one on one issue. If the managers whole department were revolting then I'd be more amenable. I believe that professionals understand the heirarchy and the lines of authority. A professional accepts their place within that heirarchy. Based on that, if the situation came to the point of needing to bring in a specialist, I would probably be more incline to dismiss the employee before I payed someone to do what I haven't been able to do. Of course if the manager is the problem, that is an issue her bosses need to look at and apply the same philosophy. As has been mentioned we don't know all of the details and one poster astutely noted that we're only hearing one side of the story. The manager needs to use all the tools at her disposal to resolve this, including seeking advice from other more seasoned managers, her supervisors, HR, etc. We don't know that there is a conflict. We only know that the manager has a problem with this individual.

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by vltiii In reply to Resolving Workplace Dispu ...

You've reached a lot of conslusions about why this employee is acting the way she is that have never been stated by the original poster. There have been a wide range of recommendations posted including talking with the employee to get to the root of the problem. In fact most of the more well thought out post included counseling (talking if you want to play symantics). Most of the more well thought out post only recommend firing, reprimanding, etc after trying other less severe alternatives first. Firing is a tool at the disposal of a manager. Whether we like it or not, there are times when this tool must be used for the overall good of the organization. And, just for the record, I'm not terribly concerned about how my peers view my status. My employer pays me to do a job and I'm going to do that job to the best of my ability. What my peers think is inconsequential. What my boss' think, not that is something to be concerned about.

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by srini_soma In reply to Manage older employees

I would say - first step should be to sit down with her and discuss what's her problems. If you find the problem is only with the attitude, you may have to plan for second disucssion with HR with/ without you. It's possible she can bring up some concerns to your HR. That would help you to correct if anything missing from yourside.

Definitely there is no use in following her voice level and to fight with her. There won't be any difference if you do so.

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by vltiii In reply to Manage older employees

This employee has been there for 5+ years, 4+ more than the manager. At this point one would think that she knew her worth. Even if you're right and she doesn't her approach is still a problem. At 40+ years of age and obvious experience in the work force I would think that she would know how to conduct herself in the workplace. Holding her hand is not going to make this problem go away. Leaders lead and managers manage. Personally, had it been me, after this happened one time, I would have explained in no uncertain terms where she fits into the heirarchy and what's expected of her in that role. If it happened again after that, it would have been clear that she had no respect for the position I hold. It doesn't matter if she respects me or not. Ultimately, we're not paid to win popularity contest even though as you stated a friendly work environment is preferred. In any case after the second occurance, the issue would have been dealt with accordingly. I have a reserved personality also, however, if I'm in a position to lead, manager, and supervise, my employer is going to get what they are paying me for.

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Eval Process and Procedures

by ginese11 In reply to I've managed older employ ...

There is no magic formula with people, she may be deadset in her ways. Follow the established poliecs and ensure everything is documented.

If she know everything, them she must also know, if I do not work well in a team enviorment, I'm gone.

There are many ways to approach situations, but the situation will dictate the action.

Once you resolve that one, all the whinners will wake up.

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All about timing

by GuardianOZ In reply to I've managed older employ ...

I agree with you about asserting your position to any subordinate, however this is more about timing.

With regards to management I am a very strong believer in tried and tested methods.
The first approach should be mutual respect, regardless of age, however we all know that this is not often the reality or you would not be in this position now.

Secondly adapting to Dale Carnegie's methodologies in ?how to win friends and influence people? can be a way to get an employee on side, which is a great way of maintaining their knowledge but also winning their support. Winning the support from an employee with years of experience is great, but also the relationship and the significance of that relationship to you (for other to see) is priceless.

Last but not least, is going down the very hard and fast path of enforcing your position onto them.
Firstly, write up their letter of warning, giving several reasons for the letter ?support, disruptive, non productive, undermining behavior etc? but also state that someone of their experience and capabilities is not only of great value to the business but also very valuable to you as their superior. This way you are not just giving them a kick in the rear, but you are letting them know if they can get on board and work with you that you see them as important.

If they can not understand the letter or mature to their role, things pretty much will not change, so I would suggest that you start drafting their second and then final letter, cutting them loose as soon as possible.

REMEMBER: it is all about timing, if you do not address the issues fast enough you become more limited in the options that are always available to you from the commencement of your initial appointment.

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