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New employee showing signs of being argumentative - Need Advice

By RB_ITProfessional ·
I have a new team member whom after only day 3 is showing signs of being argumentative. I encourage and foster input and feedback from my team; however, the culture of our team is such that it is done in a manner that is respectful to others. This new employee has not gotten accustomed to our culture yet, and as a result is "ruffling some feathers" so to speak. She has even loudly challenged me on a couple of things. On one occasion she did it in front of my boss, and on the second occasion in the middle of another department. On the first occasion, my manager decided he didn't want to be a part of the discussion and excused himself. I allowed her to express her opinion and we talked a bit and came to common ground. The second time it happened, she raised her voice and told me in essence that she felt that I was not listening to her. People generally tell you what they need from you, and so I shut up and listened. I listened while she loudly elaborated on her point. When she was done, I told her that I understood where she was coming from and appreciated her perspective. I told her that I could accommodate some of her suggestion, but not all of it due to scheduling constraints etc. I am seeing a trend that I don't want to continue. What I want is her feedback and input and for her to contribute her expertise to the team. That is why we hired her. What I don't want is for her to do so in a manner that breeds negativity among the rest of the team. Already people are avoiding her and its only day 3. Any thoughts?

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One on One

by mjd420nova In reply to New employee showing sign ...

Has a private meeting with just this person. Be sure they understand that their suggestions are warranted and explain why some aspects are not viable. Also be sure that no more "displays" are exhibited any where but in your office. If this calms the individual down, then you may have gained a valuable employee, otherwise the storms will get worst and affect others performance and even disturb other departments. Also inform them that dispalys in front of your boss could mean YOUR job, and will not be tolerated. A lowly officer does not dress down a department head in front of the captain.

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Plan and Document

by Mountain Air In reply to One on One

A one on one meeting with this person is essential. However, it is also essential to explain to her "official" supervisor exactly what you plan to discuss with her. Since you are acting in the capacity of de-facto supervisor, you need to get the blessing of somebody who is actually in the chain of command. Your talking points need to be presented to the supervisor in advance of the meeting in the form of a memo to the supervisor. If you don't do this, the tables may turn on you. Even though your co-workers and one or two supervisory personnel may have seen the problem, it doesn't mean that HR has.

After meeting with this person, write a memo for the record describing the purpose of the meeting, referencing the planning memo, and explaining what was said by each person. This is partly CYA, but mostly evidence for HR when/if the time comes to terminate.

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build a file

by jacob3273 In reply to Plan and Document

I agree with DASIT's post. Obviously, it's essential to make this person understand that her disruptive behavior is detrimental to your team's working atmosphere.

But I'd also build a file on her just in case discussions don't work and there's no choice but to escort her to the rear exit, where visitors in the lobby won't be treated to what might be one of her stellar performances.

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Nip it.

by bsmntcritr In reply to build a file

Nip this thing in the bud and do it now.
Brutal? Sure.
Needed? Absolutely.

I've experiened this same thing and learned that this kind of behavior gets more controlling and disrespectful. If you allow your authority to be challenged in an open court you risk becoming a person no 0ne takes seriously and that can make future projects that required interdepartmental cooperation help very difficult. Been there, experiernced that.

Lay down the rules of what is acceptable and what is not.

Document all of the "course corrections" with the new party, yourself, and management. It's backup that will be asked for even though you were never warned to collect it.

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Having been in this situation on more than

by j.lupo In reply to New employee showing sign ...

one occasions (and yes sometimes guilty as charged too) I have found that the 1-on-1 is a way to work out these types of issues. The big thing is to make her aware of her behavior and your interpretation of it.

I know in my case it came from a passion for us succeeding and I just had to work on my interpersonal abilities over and over again. As to a loud voice, that may or may not be deliberate. She may not be yelling, in my case I have to remind myself to reel in my volume control. I get excited and up goes the broken control.

Today I am very good at working with most people, I still slip from time to time, but I make sure that I hold myself accountable for my behavior.

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by Uglycelt In reply to Having been in this situa ...

Sounds good to me

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Effective Communication Class

by lazerous200 In reply to Having been in this situa ...

Does the company offer any training classes such as a class in effective communications? If so then it would probably be of great benefit to her. A little guidence goes a long way.

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I've taken some of those classes

by j.lupo In reply to Effective Communication C ...

and they really don't work on this type of situation. There are not classes or really good training that is designed for blending diverse personalities. The best approach is to work with the person to work on the behavior issue. It may not even be a behavior issue, just personality. Some people have very strong personalities and others don't. There is no right or wrong and training classes imply that the person taking it has something wrong.

It may not be acceptable behavior at the particular company and therefore the employee and the manager need to work to adjust the employees behavior to what the company expects. Completely? No, because that personality may be what turns them into a star player.

I have little faith in the "effective communications" classes or "teamwork" classes for the reasons I stated. "Been there, done that"

I still wish the original poster good luck with their situation. I hope they will provide feedback on how it is going.

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Agreed - maybe get HR involved

by Juanita Marquez In reply to New employee showing sign ...

I've seen too many companies with departments who were ruined because of a "bad apple". You do need to nip this in the bud right away if you perceive this to be a problem. I'm not sure if you're her manager or on equal footing with her. I agree with the other poster that a one-on-one should be done, but if that doesn't do the trick then have a sit-down with your boss or HR present for possible documentation in case things get worse and she has to be let go. This person needs to know if she is creating an atmosphere of negativity, insubordination as well as possible harassment (termination-worthy offenses) and that will not be tolerated - and the coworkers may very well make their own complaints to HR.

You may approach the one-on-one by saying something like "I noticed that you are very passionate about ____. At our company, we welcome suggestions and I am really looking forward to your contributions to benefit our team. I'm not sure what your previous job's culture was like, but here we really make an effort to listen attentively to everyone's concerns and treat each other with respect. In meetings, we try to promote the unity of the group and if you have a disagreement with someone's ideas, I think everyone would be more receptive to your point of view if it was presented in a different fashion because unfortunately people perceived you as being argumentative and less approachable. (Insert general examples of unacceptable behavior here, give examples of acceptable behavior here, but try not to finger-point at her.) If you have issues you feel aren't being addressed to your satisfaction, let's talk about them - I'll do my best to help."

Other things to consider: many companies have a "probation period" and if she doesn't work out, it may be perfectly acceptable for her to be let go if things don't improve. Also, she may be going through something stressful at home right now - you may open it up with "I noticed you seem a bit on edge, upset/angry/loud in the meeting, and I'm concerned. Is there anything stressful I should know about/can help with?" Sometimes people will tell you something that is legitimately causing them stress that needs to be vented - it's not an excuse for bad behavior but it is possible that it is a bad phase vs. a bad employee. I know when I've had a bad spell in my life and I told my caring boss about it, it just worked out for both our benefits because he understood I was having problems, I understood that he saw my performance suffer so I could work to change it, and I knew that he cared enough to say something helpful vs. just complain to HR or higher ups.

Two final notes: maybe she needs an outing or luncheon with the group to get along better. Knowing people better builds more care and maybe she'd feel less hostile if she felt more accepted. Also, you can remember that no matter what her expertise, no one is irreplaceable - it is inconvenient to find another employee with her talents but if she's given a fair shake and it's still not working, you can find another someone to bring insight to your area. There's no shortage of IT people these days. Good luck.

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She could also be trying to

by j.lupo In reply to Agreed - maybe get HR inv ...

prove herself worthy to the team and everyone. Thus, she is over doing it in her approach.

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