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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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by IoMMa In reply to Do it the right way

Unless your HR dept. is run by a gaggle of monkeys, the possibility that she "just didn't work out" is embedded into her contract. This is a problem for HR. Get them involved right away, they will brief you on the correct way to go about fixing the problem. Don't try to go it alone and definitely do not give in to her demands.

I would also demand an explanation from the person that hired her in the first place. Put them on notice that they should be providing you with SOLUTIONS not PROBLEMS. Otherwise, they will keep doing it.

However...." the culture of our team is such that it is done in a manner that is respectful to others" sounds like she may more aggressive than your teammembers. Could it possibly be that you are encouraging her behaviour and she feels like she's the only Alpha male in the place? I have NEVER worked in a place where everyone was respectful to each other.

But, then again, I have never gone looking for a "peaceful" and "cooperative" place to work. If I wanted that I would have become a monk. From the little I've heard of your workplace, I think your corporate culture needs a kick in the rear. Maybe she's the thing that you needed.

Edited to include the following:

I explain to people that I hire that, if they don't like the job etc., I would prefer that they quit immediately rather than they hang around unhappy and cause problems because that is what I would do. I have had people quit after 3 days. No warning. Nothing. Short term, it wreaks havoc on the workplace. Longterm, though, it gives you the opportunity to find better people build a loyal and successful team.

This only works if you are willing to do what it takes to make things work. If you are not willing to do that, your teammembers won't be either.

Cut your losses. The person who really wants to have that job is waiting for you to call them. Right now.

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Give her a good talking to!

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

I can see your problem. If it was me, firstly i'd have a private meeting with her and tell her to never contradict you or question your management style/decisions in public again. If she thinks that you're not listening to her, she should be approaching you privately, not shouting the odds and undermining your position in front of other employees.

I'd also advise her on the way your team work, and tell her she might be more productive etc if she worked the same way. Diplomatic but firm. She might not like it but better to do it now rather than later.

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It sounds more like over enthusiasm.

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

I've noticed that when people become "over enthusiastic" to the point where it can be perceived as negative it is often because they care deeply about what they do. Rather than discourage this I believe that you should help her channel it. It might be an idea to get her ideas as to what is wrong in one area and ask her to look at ways of improving them. Explain to her the factors she may not yet be aware of and ask her to take them into account in her solution.
Having someone new in your team who challenges the way things have been done in the past has a lot of hidden benefits. Sometimes it also reminds the rest of the team why a particular process is in place as opposed to a "just because" reason.

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Is she the problem?

by peter.summersgill In reply to New employee showing sign ...

She's not picking you up on your grammar, is she?

You say yourself that she has "not gotten accustomed to our culture yet." --- YET --- You expect that she will in time, and your response to date seems very reasonable. It looks like the bigger problem is the rest of the team, all those people who are avoiding her.

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rite or wrong ?

by cKurtz In reply to Is she the problem?

One thing common in small groups, with a history, with complex multiple involvements, and sometimes overlapping responsibilities, is the task of 'initiation' and acculturation of a new member of the group.

Of course the new member has a role and specific duties, but they also need to learn what sociologist Thomas Scheff once termed the "residual norms" of the group. Things like how strongly you can raise your voice, whether it is appropriate to engage in very aggressive behavior to represent what you think is relevant, right, or creatively conceived.

We don't know a lot of details from what you have said, but I have to ask you why you didn't immediately and firmly tell the person that raising their voice was not acceptable of inappropriate at the moment they raised their voice. Immediate behavioral feedback is very important. Is it because you didn't want to appear to be losing your 'cool' ? Is it because you don't know or have the behavioral skills to speak assertively but without hostility ?

A second issue : you imply, but don't concretely say, that some of the new person's ideas were valuable, relevant, creative, appropriate. If this person is bringing in new ideas that could contribute to the group and company that's one thing. If this person is just 'grandstanding' or acting out some personal problem or is some kind of a sociopath, and their proposals or suggestions are off the mark, that's another.

Let me ask you this question (and, no I am not speaking rhetorically, I don't have any answer in mind) : is there any social event you can imagine that would involve the whole group and contribute to this person's sense of being a part of it ?

And good luck.


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I wouldn't work for such a confrontation adverse group

by RockyMountainScot In reply to Is she the problem?


What a bunch of gutless cry-babies! Avoiding is just as aggressive, and is a BIGGER issue, than someone who speaks out.

Get all your people in a room and set the ground rules. Are you a boss or a babysitter? The person speaking out is not the "bad-guy."

Find out what the issue is that causes such disagreement. Maybe she knows you are on a path to known failure and is trying to keep your group and you from getting deeper than you are. True, this is just a guess on my part.

I want people who will speak out. If I document a technical bully, or worse, a weasely passive-aggressive I fire on the spot.

I, for one, would have never hired on to such clique. Culture? How about some civil discourse! Get your heads out of your VDTs!

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Serious conversation

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

You need to sit with her right now, while things are still new, and explain to her in as graphic a level of detail as necessary that she was hired because of her expertise, and because of her potential as a team player, and that both are equally important; that she owes a loyalty to the company and the organization for that is who she works for; and that if she continues her current trend she will have to find employment some other place. I would have weekly sessions with her to discuss how her team playing is going, and ask the other employees how she is doing with them. When she does well, praise her, publicly, and when she breeds negativity, counsel her in private. Set specific goals for her team performance, and if she fails to meet those goals ask her to find work elsewhere. Make sure you documwent everything, and make sure the suggestions and goals are in no way gender slanted, for she will likely complain about b eing discriminated against either because she is a woman, or a racial minority, or both.

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

I think this person and you are over-reacting. Others among your team seam to not respond well to someone who is adimate about voicing themselves. Being from the Marine Corps not too long ago, I have this problem myself. I was let go from a temp-to-hire position back in March because of it. But I work in Engineering and my boss was somebody promoted from the shop floor that has no engineering experience at all, did not even know how to read a blueprint. Talk about getting loud. I have been out of a job since March too. Now, I have every right to get loud and pissed off about the situation, but you know what, the only person that really suffered was me. Granted, this company is still looking too, they have even went through 5 people since me. They have a high turnover rate in the engineering dept. as well. I was right in everything I said while I was there. By being let go though, I have come to realize that by being loud, it will not get you what you need either. That might work as a boss in a Mfg. plant, but not in an office environment. Giving this person the benefit of the doubt. Someone should sit down with her "over a beer" type atmosphere or whatever works, and drop hints to another person that has been in your office for a long time, and say "remember that one guy who used to be so loud in the office all the time?" "Remember how we use to screw with his head until he stopped?" You have to play that game out a little and lead them along to believe that if it does not stop, you have terminated people with similar behavior before. If she tries to come in on the conversation, listen to her, but don't give suggestions. Just agree. Let her vent and give you or your team members input. You need to get others on your team involved. This way, you don't attack the new employee directly, furthering the situation worse, and people can take a hint if they listen. She will pick up on what you and a few members of your team are incenuating. If things don't improve within 2-3 weeks, then yes it is time to let them go and move on. Have you seen that commercial on T.V. where everyone is in an advertising meeting at different firms, wondering what the other company would do and at the end you see a guy with a bottle of water balancing on his forehead before his co-worker takes it off his head as says, "I got it!" I say that around a lot of people where I work. I wonder what so and so would do and I put in that persons name that I'm thinking of. People don't pick up on it right away sometimes, unless they ask you what you mean or have seen the same commercial. If nothing is said. Don't explain it. Just walk away from that part of the conversation or change the subject, but don't go changing the subject so fast it's obvious. You would not believe how this incenuates for people to follow examples or foot steps of employees in your office who are outstanding and looked highly upon. That is what that commercial is doing to you as well, it's designe to sell it's services the same way.

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be a model of behaviour

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

remember the movie Anger Management where in his view he is a nice guy but people think otherwise? you might like showing the movie to her before you go one-on-one. but i advise against a one-on-one.

i used to deal with an older member who unconsciously cuts into your, my and anyone's conversation. i just patiently let her finish, give the answer then note where to restart my discussion again.

even my boss was cut off several times and as i saw he was getting mad but before he went ballistic, i decided to talk, let her cut in several times yet patiently, i answered and then restarted my thread. for years my boss copied my style in dealing with her. because she does not know what she does nor if she knows, can she help it after all these years.

even now after 5 years, she still has those habits but oftentimes we have proven, what counts is the patience of people on those who cannot change anymore.

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What is missing so far...

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

I haven't read all the reply posts to your situation but what is coming up from most is the one to one and this is a great idea, there is however, for me, one thing missing and that?s the girls psychological state. I see her as someone with low self esteem (not easily recognised from the loud aggressive demeanour) that has possibly struggled in a predominately male environment and feels that she is never heard. Her challenging you is not her trying to be disrespectful but being poorly assertive. Consider the different mind sets: -

Passive Non-Aggressive

Passive Aggressive

Assertive Non-Aggressive

Assertive Aggressive

At this stage your lady sounds as if she could fall into the last category of Assertive Aggressive and nobody needs that in their business and what is required is to rein her in a bit. The one-to-one is the best way to deal with this, telling her that her point of view is valuable, that you are aware that she is just new to the team and is trying to find her niche in the organisation, but that the way in which she is approaching her communication in the team setting is non-productive. Always start and finish the conversation on a positive commending note but leaving her in no doubt the effect her actions have on other team members with whom she has to work.

One note of caution, however, RB_ITProfessional, if you are a male you may consider having a trusted female member of the team in with you when you you?re your discussion with her or at least be in full view and preferable hearing of another manager, all for your own protection.

Hope this helps

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