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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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I disagree

by kevaburg In reply to How would you react...

One of the problems associated with having to manage an older team memeber is the perceived illusion of authority that the older person seems to believe they have over the younger one. We all know this to be nothing more than the illusion that it is but the way this needs to be managed is completely differently to the way the same problem with a younger person would be.

You need to be extremely careful in the way you approach the problem and the "chain-of-command" through HR channels is the best option. If things still do not work out then see if a transfer of her or you between departments is feasible.

Unfortunately this is a situation that could escalate into an unacceptable confrontation very quickly if not handled properly.

Good luck!

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It's not age related

by amcol In reply to Managing a loud and obnox ...

You've just framed your presentation of the situation as an age oriented issue, but that's not it at all.

You don't say if you're male or female. If you're male, is it gender related?

You made a point of you having education and your subordinate having experience. Is she threatened by your academic credentials?

The company's just recovered from bankruptcy reorganization. Does she feel her position is in jeopardy and she's just lashing out?

You entered the company as her manager only one year ago and she's been there five. Is she jealous? Did you get the position she wanted?

The answer is all of the above and none of the above. What I think you have here is the classic know-it-all, someone whose ego demands they be right all the time and that their rightness be accompanied by public affirmation of that fact.

What I really think is that it doesn't matter. The problem here isn't her, it's you. You're the manager but you're not managing. You have a fly in the ointment who's been allowed to upset the team and interpersonal dynamic to the point where "there is so much bitching about anyone and everyone you wouldn?t believe". That's YOUR fault, not hers.

You're making the classic young manager mistake. You're not her parent; you're not her teacher; you're not her psychiatrist; you're not her buddy; YOU'RE HER MANAGER. MANAGE HER. "Often when I?m being nice, and mentor her it's shrugged off". Why are you being nice to her? What did she do to deserve your mentorship? She's not performing, and she's taking you and your group down with her.

Don't be nice. Be tough.

She's there to do a job. She's not doing it. Worse yet, she's preventing other people from doing their jobs. You have enough already, obviously, to document unproductive behaviors. Do so, create a plan for her, make sure it has hard deliverables and hard dates, then make her report her progress on a regular weekly basis. She'll either make it or not...if she does you've turned the situation around, if not she's gone and the pain with her. Either way you win, and in the meantime everyone around you...your team, your management, and your customers...will see you doing what's necessary to address a tough situation. That's how you gain respect, and that's how you succeed.

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With all due respect.

by Zen37 In reply to It's not age related

I would not want you to be my manager and if i was yours, you and i would have a serious talk.

You need to weight your words my friend. Your use of absolutes create an environement not of respect but of fear.

Is this the manager's issue? Yes, not his "fault". Should he care for the reasons she is acting this way? Sure, if it helps in finding a solution. If the reason is as you think (know it all), then yes, the reasons are irrelavent. But if they aren't, shouldn't you try to resolve them.

I do believe that this person is trying to deal with the situation the best it can. He or she could do a lot more, yes. A little more action is definitely needed here. But your words suggest drastic draconian methods that may not be called for....yet.

You can accomplish a lot more when you get respect from trust than respect from fear.

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Neither drastic nor draconian

by amcol In reply to With all due respect.

Not everyone likes my management style, and I'm OK with that. One can't be all things to all people, one can simply do the best one can.

A manager has many responsibilities. You have one to each individual on your team, one to the team as a whole, one to your department and/or division, one to your company, one to the stakeholders, one to your customers, one to get the picture. Management is a balancing act in which we discharge our various competing responsibilities in some priority order that makes situational sense.

In this situation we have an underperforming person who's in turn creating an underperforming team. You can take that concept as logically far as you feel comfortable. The manager is responsible for the performance of the team and each individual in it. This manager has taken a half hearted touchy feely approach up until now, and it isn't working. If the issue isn't addressed, firmly and decisively, nothing's going to happen except a bad situation will get worse. It's the manager's job, any manager's job, to make things better, or at least hold to an acceptably high status quo.

I disagree that if it's not the manager's fault. That kind of pass the buck mentality is why these types of situations fester to the point where people lose their jobs, and my advice was designed to make sure that if that happens it happens to the right person...the employee, not the manager.

I disagree that the manager is dealing with the situation at all, let alone as best he/she can. If that were true there would have been no reason for the original posting to begin with.

Should we as managers care about our team members as people? Of course. Should we cut people slack? Yes, but within reason. Does the employee in this situation deserve to have some slack cut for her? I don't see why...she's done nothing to help and is actively making things worse. Should we as managers do what's necessary to get our jobs done, even if that may mean taking some imperative steps...up through and including people losing their jobs? Sorry, but that's what they pay us for.

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by Zen37 In reply to Neither drastic nor draco ...

I'm sorry Amcol, but all i get from your post is aggressiveness and lack of empathy. It is very "type A personnality". All i can say is that i respectfully disagree with you point of view.

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No problem

by amcol In reply to Well...

I've been called worse, which probably comes as no surprise. I respectfully acknowledge your right to disagree.

H'mm...that didn't sound unempathetic or very type A, did it? Sorry to disappoint. I'll have to work on that.

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I agree

by mike In reply to No problem

I am in full agrement that the person is well beyond the touchy feely ..try to make nice line. I work in large scale construction and it is all hard deadlines...can't push it off and take atime out adn try to figure why the bldg isn't comming out of the ground beacuse someone's sign is wrong. Find the problem, adjust it or replace it with a BETTER one.

Yes...but it works on getting things done so you can pick up the phone and get a dial tone EVERYTIME>>>>>>

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by jhammet In reply to Well...

You must be a new age whiner.

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How original, name calling.....

by Zen37 In reply to

Have you even seen my handle? Do you even know what it means? New age, yes, but whiner....please.

We could sure use a lot less of these idiotic replies such as this one. If you have nothing more constructive to say about the subject, and you resolve to bring yourself down to name calling, please, don't bother.

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I agree

by roxyred66 In reply to How original, name callin ...

I agree totally. This manager is asking for sound advice and we have immaturity knocking on her door.

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