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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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Send her to a human communications class

by eelder1 In reply to Neither drastic nor draco ...

Send her to school and tell why she is going. Tell her she needs to develop tact and that if she doesn't makes some changes in her behavior, it will be reflected in her annual evaluation. She is being insubordiante, stop her in her tracks.

I she can bully you, she will bully others. You don't need to put up with this. You are the boss.

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Refreshing response

by philip.grogan In reply to Neither drastic nor draco ...

This response was refreshing from the previous response which kicked off the thread. The first reponse was a little negative and assumed the worst in the team memeber.

Two two traits loud and worthless do not necessarily go together. companies all too often cut off the nose to spite the face. It is easy to dismiss someones abilities beacuse of a personal clash. A manager is paid to look beyond this and get the best out of team members whilst producing the required results. The two go hand in hand.

If our job was easy, anyone could do it!.

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Actually I am in agreeement with amcol on this one..

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

I've read Amcol's first reply, this one and the others before it.

I feel amcol's advice and management perspective on this issue is sound and professional.

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Not necessarily

by kevaburg In reply to Actually I am in agreeeme ...

Amcols response, I believe is only the right one if all other avenues have been exhausted. Creating a confrontational environment such as would happen is both negative and non-productive.

Maybe I'm being naive!!!

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Amcol is right on.

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

When an employee is clashing with a manager, most of the time it is an effort by the employee to say - you're management style doesn't match with my needs as an employee. This is straight out of management 101 (having recently finished my MBA, this was a focus of discussion). And Managers who don't individually manage their employees are Accountants, not Managers. I know, I work for one, I have had this conversation, and was completely blown off.
There are four basic management strategies according to the motivation and skill level of the employee:
For unmotivated, unskilled employees, the manager has to take a dictatorial, micromanaging effort. The manager must train the employee and set goals as to when things have to be done and set disciplinary actions for failure to achieve goals.
For unmotivated, skilled employees, the manager should set the goals, but probably doesn't need to do the instruction. The manager should be working on finding a challenge to motivate the employee.
For motivated, unskilled employees, the manager should mentor: giving instruction while proceeding at a pace worked out between the manager and the employee. Many motivated employees can be given employee mentors or supplementary reading to speed up the learning process and decrease the load on the manager.
For motivated, skilled employees (rare and valuable), they need to be consulted to feel valued. The manager should work with them to set ambitious deadlines and provide new challenges. Regular progress updates and inquiries about resources they need will help get the most out of these employees.

It sounds like the manager is using the wrong management tactic - trying to mentor when he should be consulting. The employee is likely complaining because she wants to feel valued for her knowledge. So as a manager, you should cater to this. If she plainly doesn't know and is trying to BS an answer, then ask questions in a way that points out the results of an incorrect understanding. If she's not humble enough to handle the correction, you may need to assert the risk of disciplinary action. But I'd try switching tactics first.

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Not an MBA exercise...but correct accessment!

by Beoweolf In reply to Amcol is right on.

The employee (after 5 years) must know something; otherwise they would or should have been terminated long before.

This is an issue that requires better than a quick, off the cuff response. Professionally and personally, I would review previous evaluations of the employee...see how other managers felt and dealt with this person.

All too often, newly minted managers are the ones that are defensive, often mistaking opinion for being "opinionated" or defending a professional assessment as being "defensive, dismissive or obstinate?)... they may or may not be. However, learning where they are coming from may give you a clue. Put away your fears and prejudices?someone believed in you enough to give you the responsibility, use your skills to turn this situation around.

I don't see this, as it has been framed, as an age issue. It may be experience vs. academic knowledge...that hasn't been established. Again an older worker, may not have an advanced may not have been required. But to be honest, the benefits of a degree (even an advanced degree) are nullified, other than documentation, after a few years in the trenches.

It seems silly that despite all the evidence of wide spread cheating for degrees that has been revealed...we still accept a degree as necessary for a position, but discount many years of successful employment as not quite valid?

The point is...I agree mostly that a manager should use a different approach when dealing with skilled/unskilled/motivated/unmotivated workers; even more he should take into account how to elicit the best performance from high output workers. They can be your best ally or worse nightmare. What makes it so puzzling, is the choice is pretty much yours based on how you view the value of their knowledge and worth to the job you ask them to do. If they can't do the job...then educate them, demote them or fire them. If you don't know how to handle them; then experiment, learn the best approach!

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Tenure is no guarantee of competence

by tom.lee In reply to Not an MBA exercise...but ...

Without knowing the particulars it is hard to say if a person is qaulified for a job just because they have been around a while. I have personaly been involved in situations where, for political reasons, getting rid of person ran the risk of having that position eliminated and I have also seen situations where for any number of reasons, higher management was afraid of getting rid of a particular person.

It needs to boil down to their personal performance and their impact on the group. If they are the best performer around but they drag down the rest of the group then their benefit is lost.

As a young manager the most common mistake is not wanting to ask for help. One one has all the answers but the effective manager is the one that knows where to go when they they don't know what to do (this only works if you take these types of occasions as opportunities to learn).

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

Very well said.

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Work or nice

by paul In reply to With all due respect.

Amazing thing, we are now nice to people, walk around them like they can break.
Rule number one:
We go to work to work. If we all keep this in mind much of the problems often mentioned on this forum would simply not exist. When we accepted employment, it was accompanied with a set of rules. By acceptance of the job, we also accepted the rules. Nobody twisted our arms to accept the job. So in my view we are now obligated to live by the rules we accept. Many of those contributing here seems to forget this fact. Rule number two:
IT personnel is in place to make the non IT people life simpler. Not to show superiority. Rule number three: Start managing your self and you will mange others well too. Example works wonders.

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Is drastic action the key?

by philip.grogan In reply to With all due respect.

In management there are so many styles to adopt and all of which will have good and bad points to them.

Yes we all come to work for the same deep reason of earning enough to pay for the things we want most. Yes our teams need to be productive in order to survive and yes the working environment is not the end of the universe as we know it. Life will go on.

Yes I am in philosophical mood today!.

However, it will deffinately enhance our earning potential and the roles we will be successful in aplying for ongoing, if we develope our skills in dealing with difficult situations in a possitive manner. This may mean working on a plan of action and trying to cater for each outcome. The last of which should be through HR as this is irreversable and will set the tone. The company will loose out ultimately. But understand that that action copuld be necessary if everything else fails.

In this situation, If management is the career of choice, I would want to make every effort to win over the employee and get a grip on the rains so to speak. Wouldn't it be a great achievement to successfully turn this situation around to a possitive, productive relationship. We are all built differently and becuase of this, one management style does not suite all individuals.

We all have different reasons to come to work each day. Some of us most of the time will be dealiong with lives great difficulties and unfortunately bring this wot work.

It is possible that this person needs a non biased ear to offload on. I like to have the attitude (right or worng) that most people are reasonable by nature and that abnormal behaviour is an outcome not a cause. If we want to succeed for the long haul with management in my opinion, we need to be able to adjust styles and tackle difficult situations head on.

I have found that directive agressive management does not work for the long term and in this day and age employees seek co-operative approach.

But depending on the business it is really horses for courses!.

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