How to handle problem employee

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davebo
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How to handle problem employee

Post by davebo » Tue May 08, 2018 8:05 pm

Thanks for suggestions!
Last edited by davebo on Wed May 09, 2018 11:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

sad2
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by sad2 » Tue May 08, 2018 8:12 pm

Following as I am a relatively new manager (7 months) and am dealing with an employee who questions my requests. Today, I asked her to do something and her response was: "I just got two urgent contracts if they need attention in the next two weeks I probably wont be able to manage this "

I can't imagine telling my SVP that I won't be able to manage this.

Perhaps I am old-school. Then again, I am still in my 30s.

The entitlement in employees has been most striking as I move into a management role.
Last edited by sad2 on Tue May 08, 2018 8:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

livesoft
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by livesoft » Tue May 08, 2018 8:13 pm

Who is your mentor at your current employer?
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Good Listener
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by Good Listener » Tue May 08, 2018 8:15 pm

I've been there and you have identified a problem. I think if you are a young manager I would give in to her. This type of employee is one second or one word away from going to HR and putting you into a lot of trouble.

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mhc
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by mhc » Tue May 08, 2018 8:15 pm

Since it is only 10% of the time and she is a reasonable worker, I would move on. It's not that big of a deal.

At the appropriate time I would inform her how her attitude/comments are negatively impacting her career and team. I wouldn't make too big of a deal out of it.

bampf
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by bampf » Tue May 08, 2018 8:25 pm

Managerial judo is a difficult skill. It involves taking an opposing force and using a subtle twist or directional change to accelerate towards an objective. You have a complex and nuanced question that will be difficult to answer in just the words and descriptions you offer here. Perhaps she is mad you are the boss. Perhaps you are unclear in your expectations or coming across as dictatorial. Perhaps she doesn't really want the job. There are so many complexities and subtleties to employee behavior. However, I will tell you a few rules of thumb that I have learned over the course of 30 years of management. First, generally those that are going to support you become obvious fairly quickly. Don't waste a ton of time trying to convince, cajole, win over or otherwise change behaviors. If they are going to be a problem, it is best to take care of the problem very quickly. This must be coupled with self awareness and fairness. Don't be that guy (or gal) that destroys someone simply because you don't like their style. You aren't a king. Discern between problem behavior and annoyances very quickly and deal with problems as rapidly as possible in a fair manner. Next, seek out senior leadership advice and support. Asking for help is a sign of a maturing manager. Finally, recognize that many people want the ability to feel in control of their lives, jobs, decisions and work loads. That isn't always possible, but, many times it is. It of course depends. Turn their problem into their solution. Ask them what they would do if they were in your shoes. If you can support that, then support it. I frequently tell my staff that I get the responsibility of deciding what we do. The how we do it is a joint and mutual decision because I need their support and buy in. If you make it their idea, they will work much harder to accomplish the objective. I don't know if this is actionable, but, perhaps. Best of luck!

WildBill
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by WildBill » Tue May 08, 2018 8:31 pm

Howdy

Common issue, almost universal. She is delegating her work upward to you. Invert the process.

Instead of spending time a lot of time getting bogged down in discussing the whichness of what and how we did it in the good old days at wherever, objectively lay out the goals and objectives - that is your job -ask her thoughts on the best way to achieve them, and how you can help her to do so - also your job.

Then send her forth to do so. And if she does not, then further discussion is on why and why not, which is an objective, productive and useful discussion.

W B
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The529guy
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by The529guy » Tue May 08, 2018 8:32 pm

Usually, the reason she doesn't understand is that she doesn't understand the underlying reason. To be honest, I don't really feel like explaining or justifying it.
Leaders help their people understand why they're doing what they're doing.

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celia
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by celia » Tue May 08, 2018 8:49 pm

davebo wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 8:05 pm
I'm a relatively new manager, just 6 months into the job. I inherited an employee and I think I'm seeing that we have a personality conflict. She has a fair amount of experience at other companies, but is pretty new to our company.
I think you may not appreciate her experience, especially if processes evolved over time. "Your way" may or may not be more efficient, but she will likely work more efficiently if she does things in a way that makes sense to her. Tell her the goal and let her perform it however she wants.
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ClevrChico
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by ClevrChico » Tue May 08, 2018 9:08 pm

I had a manager ask such employees to attend outside "communications classes" as an annual goal. Employee gets a day away from the office for a class, an easy annual goal, and a strong hint they need to act more like a team player. Everyone wins.

davebo
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by davebo » Tue May 08, 2018 9:50 pm

livesoft wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 8:13 pm
Who is your mentor at your current employer?
I have both my manager and VP that I've talked to this about. They both see it as well, but said last time to let it play out a bit. I'll have to revisit this with them.

random_walker_77
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by random_walker_77 » Tue May 08, 2018 10:01 pm

It would be helpful to provide some context into the type of position. Is this a knowledge worker role (it sounds like it is)? To what extent are you paying this employee to think independently?

For example, in my industry, older engineers tend to be more conservative and come off as less enthusiastic, or so it seemed to me when I was younger. But really, a big part of that was experience talking, in that they could foresee problems and difficulties with certain ideas and approaches. Whether they could eloquently and diplomatically communicate their rationales was a different matter, but you learn over time who you really need to listen to.

As a manager, your job is to help your team get things done efficiently and correctly. Workers have a better shot of doing things correctly if they understand how what they're doing fits into the bigger picture. Even for unskilled labor, understanding how an individual's work fits in can be important. For a knowledge worker, it's crucial.
davebo wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 8:05 pm
To be honest, I don't really feel like explaining or justifying it. I have enough other things going on.
Is that statement/mindset typical of the management culture in your firm? If not, I'd gently suggest that you reevaluate the importance of explaining things to your team. Even if it is, I believe it's worth thinking about the value of this as it can help with team morale and productivity.

Do you have a senior manager who you can ask for advice?

davebo
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by davebo » Tue May 08, 2018 10:08 pm

celia wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 8:49 pm
davebo wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 8:05 pm
I'm a relatively new manager, just 6 months into the job. I inherited an employee and I think I'm seeing that we have a personality conflict. She has a fair amount of experience at other companies, but is pretty new to our company.
I think you may not appreciate her experience, especially if processes evolved over time. "Your way" may or may not be more efficient, but she will likely work more efficiently if she does things in a way that makes sense to her. Tell her the goal and let her perform it however she wants.

I'll give you an example. The other day, she emailed me about something not being updated in our system. I walked over and said it hasn't been updated, because she is in charge of updating the system when the routing form appears in her inbox (the form is sitting in her inbox) She says "I thought I need to wait for the email and I didn't see the email come across". I told her, "No, the email isn't the trigger, the routing form is since it has all the information to update the system". She says "Well I've been waiting for the email". I tell her, you don't need to wait for the email, once you receive this form in your inbox, you update the system. She pauses and says "I'm sorry, I don't understand". I show her the form and say "When this shows up in your inbox, you update the system."

She then goes on to tell me that she wants to keep a copy for her records so maybe she'll scan the form and save it. I tell her that she doesn't need to scan it, because after she updates the system and signs off, it goes in the file (which is scanned) by the clerical team. She then tells me that she'll scan it just to keep it for her records. Finally, I tell her not to do that because it will waste time and it's unnecessary. This usually ends with her getting very quiet, giving me a blank stare, and saying "Ok".

Maybe I'm not sympathetic because I've done the job before and remember getting trained. My boss said "When this shows up, update the system and pass it on". I just did it. I didn't question the process (of which I knew nothing about).

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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by jacoavlu » Tue May 08, 2018 10:27 pm

google jocko willink, extreme ownership (seriously)

davebo
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by davebo » Tue May 08, 2018 10:32 pm

random_walker_77 wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 10:01 pm
It would be helpful to provide some context into the type of position. Is this a knowledge worker role (it sounds like it is)? To what extent are you paying this employee to think independently?

For example, in my industry, older engineers tend to be more conservative and come off as less enthusiastic, or so it seemed to me when I was younger. But really, a big part of that was experience talking, in that they could foresee problems and difficulties with certain ideas and approaches. Whether they could eloquently and diplomatically communicate their rationales was a different matter, but you learn over time who you really need to listen to.

As a manager, your job is to help your team get things done efficiently and correctly. Workers have a better shot of doing things correctly if they understand how what they're doing fits into the bigger picture. Even for unskilled labor, understanding how an individual's work fits in can be important. For a knowledge worker, it's crucial.
davebo wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 8:05 pm
To be honest, I don't really feel like explaining or justifying it. I have enough other things going on.
Is that statement/mindset typical of the management culture in your firm? If not, I'd gently suggest that you reevaluate the importance of explaining things to your team. Even if it is, I believe it's worth thinking about the value of this as it can help with team morale and productivity.

Do you have a senior manager who you can ask for advice?
Part of it is probably our difference in styles. When I started in my previous job, I had a lot of outside experience that I brought in. However, I spent the first 6 months just following the direction of my boss and trusting that I'd get more and more of the big picture as time went on. When I had specific examples of the current process gone awry, I would offer up a suggestion on how to avoid it in the future". I think what bothers me is that I don't want to spend a lot of time talking about hypotheticals. What if this happens, what if that happens. My answer is usually, I have never seen that happen before. There are 10 people that follow this process in the department and we need it to be consistent. If SOMETHING like you suggest actually happens, we'll address it at that point.

Another example is her insistence on getting access to a specific software program. I told her that, because of the cost of an additional license, it's more cost effective to route it through one person that has the access. Plus, the department that grants access doesn't feel that it's necessary for her job. She tells me that it's critical that she has access to this system for her job. I tell her it's not critical because there are 10 people that have been doing the job for 15 years that have never had access. She continues on with this argument and I say "Would it be easier? Yes. But the decision is that it's not necessary for your job based on the cost of providing that to you. If you keep a tally of how many times you need to go to another person to get reports and it ends up being excessive and a bottleneck, we can try to make the case again. But for now, we need to respect the decision and work within the parameters. In other words, I can't make an intelligent argument when I have 10 other employees that are doing the job just fine without complaints. I'm also not going to go to the higher ups and fight for access when you've only requested these reports a total of 3 times this month."

To your last point, managers aren't dictators in my company. There is just this understanding that there are other forces at work (budget, manpower, how our decisions impact other departments/process) that can't be changed because 1 person sees a flaw in the system. There has to be concrete examples of why it needs to be done differently. Most people have the emotional intelligence to understand those things and know how to build their case. In a way, I almost feel like all of her suggestions are just hypothetical situations that we haven't ever seen played out.

Pacman
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by Pacman » Tue May 08, 2018 10:40 pm

Not everyone in corporate america is a high performer - that's just the way it is. I'm actually a bit concerned that as a new manager, you just want to fire the person, versus adapt your approach. I'm a relatively new manager with a few difficult employees and encountered the similar situations as you. Changing my communication style to be direct and to the point, and not get off topic, was all it took. By the way, employees challenging processes is a GOOD thing versus employees who just do things because they are told.

davebo
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by davebo » Tue May 08, 2018 10:51 pm

Pacman wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 10:40 pm
Not everyone in corporate america is a high performer - that's just the way it is. I'm actually a bit concerned that as a new manager, you just want to fire the person, versus adapt your approach. I'm a relatively new manager with a few difficult employees and encountered the similar situations as you. Changing my communication style to be direct and to the point, and not get off topic, was all it took. By the way, employees challenging processes is a GOOD thing versus employees who just do things because they are told.
It's a good thing when they understand the job. It's premature when they are just making suggestions without understanding why it was implemented in the first place. I can explain it only so much, but everyone knows that sometimes you need to do it, observe, and then make suggestions when you have a better understanding after watching it in action.

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Pajamas
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by Pajamas » Tue May 08, 2018 10:54 pm

You've labeled her as a problem employee and want to get rid of her. Instead, try thinking of her as the employee who will motivate you to figure out how to become a good manager, one who can manage employees who present a bit of a challenge as well as the ones who just do the job without any questions or difficulty. As long as you see her as a problem, she will be one.

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El Greco
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by El Greco » Tue May 08, 2018 11:00 pm

God, just reading this thread makes me so happy that I am almost out of the corporate workforce. :D

Dyloot
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by Dyloot » Tue May 08, 2018 11:44 pm

I've had this challenge before. I'm sure there are many ways to effectively manage it.

He was older, and had 15 years experience at the company to my 3. He was set in his ways and challenged processes and decisions regularly.

To be honest, I never "fixed" him. What I focused on instead was building a relationship with him so he'd trust me and focus his energies on (mostly) positive activities.

I took him to lunch. I checked in with him on many mornings. I asked about his bowling league, his trips to local casinos, and what he thought about the movies he enjoyed watching with his wife in the evenings after work was done for the day. I got to know him.

I let him do many tasks his own way, and used many of his suggestions on many projects. I gave him credit in meetings. I focused on many of his strengths during reviews, and made improvements an on-going, constructive conversation.

And I did that all without relinquishing my authority, or control of what the team was doing. I put him in situations I thought he'd be successful in, and if I needed to spend 15 minutes with him after a meeting addressing his concerns I would. If a task or project wasn't going well, he trusted me to come find him and talk it over without a ton of negative energies. I feel that once he saw I was willing to meet him in the middle that he joined me there, and we worked together for two years with few issues.

It may sound like a lot of work, but it was really a small part of my day. Sure, he required more attention than all of my other reports. But that's the job. Once I got to know him well, I knew that his heart was always in the right place, even if he was being a pain in the ass. And really, after getting to know him, I found I was able to tell him that--and he'd laugh, agree, and we'd move on.

But that's just me. This approach fits my personality. I prefer to coach than to command. I know many colleagues never would have put that kind of effort in, but, to me, it was completely worth it.

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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by HornedToad » Tue May 08, 2018 11:45 pm

davebo wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 10:51 pm
Pacman wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 10:40 pm
Not everyone in corporate america is a high performer - that's just the way it is. I'm actually a bit concerned that as a new manager, you just want to fire the person, versus adapt your approach. I'm a relatively new manager with a few difficult employees and encountered the similar situations as you. Changing my communication style to be direct and to the point, and not get off topic, was all it took. By the way, employees challenging processes is a GOOD thing versus employees who just do things because they are told.
It's a good thing when they understand the job. It's premature when they are just making suggestions without understanding why it was implemented in the first place. I can explain it only so much, but everyone knows that sometimes you need to do it, observe, and then make suggestions when you have a better understanding after watching it in action.
The way you've presented yourself in this thread is that you are a manager that is only capable or interested in managing high performers. For poor performers they should just do their job, not ask questions and don't bother you....

I think attending various management classes on different communication styles for different types of employees might be beneficial.

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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by CobraKai » Wed May 09, 2018 12:47 am

El Greco wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 11:00 pm
God, just reading this thread makes me so happy that I am almost out of the corporate workforce. :D
Reading this thread is making me think that I probably don't want that promotion after all. :)

BusterMcTaco
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by BusterMcTaco » Wed May 09, 2018 1:15 am

If you need a robot, program one. If you need an employee, treat them like a person. The way you've described your process makes me wonder why it isn't all automated (get a form in your email so do something... What?!). But it sounds like suggesting that in your organisation might label me a troublemaker.

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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by fujiters » Wed May 09, 2018 1:19 am

HornedToad wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 11:45 pm
The way you've presented yourself in this thread is that you are a manager that is only capable or interested in managing high performers. For poor performers they should just do their job, not ask questions and don't bother you....

I think attending various management classes on different communication styles for different types of employees might be beneficial.
+1. Recommend the book "Start With Why". One of the most important roles of a manger is a motivational force. People are more motivated when they understand why they're being asked to do a thing, and they need to understand why they're being asked to do something in any specific manner.

In this discussion, I feel like you're coming across as a problem manager.
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BusterMcTaco
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by BusterMcTaco » Wed May 09, 2018 1:31 am

fujiters wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 1:19 am
In this discussion, I feel like you're coming across as a problem manager.
I strongly agree.

gowri
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by gowri » Wed May 09, 2018 2:01 am

You are considering firing an employee who puts her head down and works 90% of the time..!!! You have difficulty wording this with your HR because you really don't have a legitimate reason to fire her. This is why I try my very best not to work for a new managers.

Also, most of the people want to know why they are doing what they are doing. People are not robots to just do what they are told to do. If most of the people on your team is just doing what they are being told, then you have a team where people just care about their paycheck and not the work itself. If people care about the work they do, they will ask questions. I am sure the lady is having much harder time dealing with you than what you are experiencing dealing with her and unfortunately you are in a position to make her pay the price for your shortcomings.

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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by MrJones » Wed May 09, 2018 4:27 am

gowri wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 2:01 am
This is why I try my very best not to work for a new managers.
Push that "problem" onto your unsuspecting co-workers, eh?

gotester2000
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by gotester2000 » Wed May 09, 2018 4:48 am

90% of employees are average - are you going to fire them if they ask questions related to the job?
90% of manager's work is communication - learn it if you want to get work done from people and grow.

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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Wed May 09, 2018 6:32 am

Is it possible that the tasks you're assigning her are unproductive things she's seen in the past? If you are telling her "how" to do something, well, that's called micromanaging and to be honest....if you're doing that, you should just do the task yourself because you're putting in the amount of effort to do the task while expecting your worker will do the task your way.

In megacorp, I saw many, many make-work projects that had no value or purpose to them. For example, we had sales people who "owned" customer accounts. As technical support, I would work with many sales people. Each sales person would keep a spreadsheet on the system that included projects at clients, details around those, potential sales numbers, etc. One new task was for us technical people to create this same spreadsheet. This took time and effort and if we were to make it accurate, we would have to coordinate with every sales person we worked with. It was a total duplication of effort for no reason. But some new upper manager needed to show he had value so set us all in motion wasting time on useless tasks. Where did these spreadsheets go? To our manager. Nowhere else. The official spreadsheets were still kept by sales and on the system where the world of Megacorp could see them.

I once had a micromanager supervisor. I was writing technical documentation and our writing styles were different from each other. He would take an entire paragraph and tell me "replace that paragraph with the following". I would rewrite the paragraph to include the ideas he presented and remove things that were thought to be extraneous. Not good enough. He'd be irate that I didn't include his paragraph word for word. I'd suffer through hour long calls of him questioning my intentions when not adding his paragraph word for word. I asked......if he wanted to rewrite this why he didn't simply open the document, make the changes and save it? Eventually, the VP of operations caught on to what he was doing and demoted him. He did this with all workers under his supervision. Soon after, I found another job and when giving notice to the VP of operations, he was somewhat devastated because he planned to fly to the other location, where this supervisor worked from and fire him.

Are you a micromanager?
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samsoes
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by samsoes » Wed May 09, 2018 6:41 am

davebo wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 8:05 pm
I'm a relatively new manager, just 6 months into the job. I inherited an employee and I think I'm seeing that we have a personality conflict. She has a fair amount of experience at other companies, but is pretty new to our company. She is probably 20 years older than me and, I suspect, she doesn't really like being told what to do. I've heard her make comments that at previous companies, she had far more authority.

90% of the time, she keeps her head down and works. Other times, she puts up this passive aggressive attitude when she disagrees with something. Sometimes it's on strategy and she'll kind of look towards the sky and say "Hmmm, that's going to be very difficult...." and I would say "No, it will be fine. I do it all the time". Other times, it's about process and she'll question something. I'll give her a brief explanation on why we're doing something a certain way and she will say something like "I don't mean to be difficult but" and then continue to question it. Usually, the reason she doesn't understand is that she doesn't understand the underlying reason. To be honest, I don't really feel like explaining or justifying it. I have enough other things going on.

Maybe it's just because I was so different when I was an employee. If my manager asked me to do something, I might ask a question to kind of understand why, but I never really questioned the process when I didn't have a good understanding of what was going on. I usually just did it and figured I would understand the rationale down the line.

I'm to the point where I feel like conversations are ending abruptly because she thinks everything is open for discussion. It usually ends with me telling her to just do it the way I told her.

I'm not really sure how to deal with this. I'm open for improvements so I'm not opposed to questions, but I'm not really getting a lot of good suggestions from her. So I don't like to waste time going back and forth. She is slightly awkward so it usually means she is not picking up what I'm saying, so I have to be extremely clear.

As far as her work, she's ok but not a great employee. She works very hard, but she doesn't seem to be able to work efficiently or prioritize things.

Since I'm new to being a manager, I know that personality differences are going to happen. When I compare her to my other employees, she is by far the hardest to deal with and doesn't jive well with the team overall. I'd personally like to just let her go, but don't even know how to put it into words to someone (like HR). If someone met her, they would immediately understand what I mean.
Be careful regarding your interactions with her. If she pulls the "I feel threatened" card, rightly or wrongly, you're toast. This happened with the son of a friend if mine.

All conversations should be in public, or if they're confidential, with your managers. Copy others on all emails, and absolutely no text messages.
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Ninnie
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by Ninnie » Wed May 09, 2018 6:57 am

That wouldn't be a TPS form, would it? :wink:

She sounds like she might have Aspergian tendencies. Although that doesn't really change things for you other than to understand it.

mmmodem
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by mmmodem » Wed May 09, 2018 7:02 am

I consider it a failure for a manager that has to fire or otherwise transfer an experienced hard working employee. If the manager can't prioritize their time to sufficiently train their direct reports, then they are not effective managers. Perhaps that manager needs to delegate more so that they do have more one on one time.

Consider what your actions will have on morale. If you let go someone who works hard 90% of the time, what signal does that give to everyone else? Do you want employees that say "yes" because they trust and respect you or because they fear losing their job? Would a new hire 20 years younger than you with 6 months experience have your trust and respect?

Amart
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by Amart » Wed May 09, 2018 7:14 am

I've been reading Marshall Rosenberg's book "Nonviolent Communication", IIRC one of the Amazon reviews I read prior to purchasing mentioned that Satya Nadella of Microsoft had all of his executive management read the book to instill a culture of empathetic communication within the company. Give the reviews a read, I can recommend that it's been a useful book in framing the way I see other peoples actions (based on their unmet needs, opposed to misguided, harmful, or illogical thought processes).

DrCheese
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by DrCheese » Wed May 09, 2018 7:18 am

BusterMcTaco wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 1:31 am
fujiters wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 1:19 am
In this discussion, I feel like you're coming across as a problem manager.
I strongly agree.
I strongly agree too. I would be complaining to the VP about you if I was the employee.

davebo
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by davebo » Wed May 09, 2018 7:34 am

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 6:32 am
Is it possible that the tasks you're assigning her are unproductive things she's seen in the past? If you are telling her "how" to do something, well, that's called micromanaging and to be honest....if you're doing that, you should just do the task yourself because you're putting in the amount of effort to do the task while expecting your worker will do the task your way.

In megacorp, I saw many, many make-work projects that had no value or purpose to them. For example, we had sales people who "owned" customer accounts. As technical support, I would work with many sales people. Each sales person would keep a spreadsheet on the system that included projects at clients, details around those, potential sales numbers, etc. One new task was for us technical people to create this same spreadsheet. This took time and effort and if we were to make it accurate, we would have to coordinate with every sales person we worked with. It was a total duplication of effort for no reason. But some new upper manager needed to show he had value so set us all in motion wasting time on useless tasks. Where did these spreadsheets go? To our manager. Nowhere else. The official spreadsheets were still kept by sales and on the system where the world of Megacorp could see them.

I once had a micromanager supervisor. I was writing technical documentation and our writing styles were different from each other. He would take an entire paragraph and tell me "replace that paragraph with the following". I would rewrite the paragraph to include the ideas he presented and remove things that were thought to be extraneous. Not good enough. He'd be irate that I didn't include his paragraph word for word. I'd suffer through hour long calls of him questioning my intentions when not adding his paragraph word for word. I asked......if he wanted to rewrite this why he didn't simply open the document, make the changes and save it? Eventually, the VP of operations caught on to what he was doing and demoted him. He did this with all workers under his supervision. Soon after, I found another job and when giving notice to the VP of operations, he was somewhat devastated because he planned to fly to the other location, where this supervisor worked from and fire him.

Are you a micromanager?
No, I'm not a micromanager. I typically just give high level direction on problems that could, if not handled correctly, turn into a problem.

davebo
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by davebo » Wed May 09, 2018 7:35 am

Ninnie wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 6:57 am
That wouldn't be a TPS form, would it? :wink:

She sounds like she might have Aspergian tendencies. Although that doesn't really change things for you other than to understand it.
Yes, that's what I was thinking when I wrote this :) I think you're probably right about that though.

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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by davebo » Wed May 09, 2018 7:41 am

DrCheese wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 7:18 am
BusterMcTaco wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 1:31 am
fujiters wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 1:19 am
In this discussion, I feel like you're coming across as a problem manager.
I strongly agree.
I strongly agree too. I would be complaining to the VP about you if I was the employee.
I was venting when I wrote this, but I could probably try another approach. I'm actually very laid back overall.

Honestly, most of this is coming from being on a team with several 15-20 year employees. Most of them are great, but there are 1-2 that require 90% of the attention. In the times where someone has left and we've hired for an open position, I have always been surprised at how great the new hires were. In other words, there is a big opportunity cost to keeping employees that don't fit with the team.

Trust me, these observations are not just mine. I've had people from other teams question me about her in the last several weeks.

ad2007
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by ad2007 » Wed May 09, 2018 8:06 am

davebo wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 9:50 pm
livesoft wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 8:13 pm
Who is your mentor at your current employer?
I have both my manager and VP that I've talked to this about. They both see it as well, but said last time to let it play out a bit. I'll have to revisit this with them.
Or take care of it yourself. I would not want my boss/mentor to think I can't handle an employee like this. What will they think of your ability to handle other/future difficult people. Management is all about dealing with all sorts of people and get things done. It's not really about "fixing" a person you are having difficulties with.

While I have no helpful hints on how to deal with your employee. There was a course I took years ago called LIFO (not accounting). Get to understand people and why they do what they do, and you'll get the most out of them.

Good luck.

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The529guy
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by The529guy » Wed May 09, 2018 8:13 am

davebo wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 10:08 pm
celia wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 8:49 pm
davebo wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 8:05 pm
I'm a relatively new manager, just 6 months into the job. I inherited an employee and I think I'm seeing that we have a personality conflict. She has a fair amount of experience at other companies, but is pretty new to our company.
I think you may not appreciate her experience, especially if processes evolved over time. "Your way" may or may not be more efficient, but she will likely work more efficiently if she does things in a way that makes sense to her. Tell her the goal and let her perform it however she wants.

I'll give you an example. The other day, she emailed me about something not being updated in our system. I walked over and said it hasn't been updated, because she is in charge of updating the system when the routing form appears in her inbox (the form is sitting in her inbox) She says "I thought I need to wait for the email and I didn't see the email come across". I told her, "No, the email isn't the trigger, the routing form is since it has all the information to update the system". She says "Well I've been waiting for the email". I tell her, you don't need to wait for the email, once you receive this form in your inbox, you update the system. She pauses and says "I'm sorry, I don't understand". I show her the form and say "When this shows up in your inbox, you update the system."

She then goes on to tell me that she wants to keep a copy for her records so maybe she'll scan the form and save it. I tell her that she doesn't need to scan it, because after she updates the system and signs off, it goes in the file (which is scanned) by the clerical team. She then tells me that she'll scan it just to keep it for her records. Finally, I tell her not to do that because it will waste time and it's unnecessary. This usually ends with her getting very quiet, giving me a blank stare, and saying "Ok".

Maybe I'm not sympathetic because I've done the job before and remember getting trained. My boss said "When this shows up, update the system and pass it on". I just did it. I didn't question the process (of which I knew nothing about).
Ok, that sounds pretty awful. Do you think she’s playing dumb to be difficult, or just doesn’t get it?

How long did she typically last at the other companies she worked at?
Last edited by The529guy on Wed May 09, 2018 8:53 am, edited 2 times in total.

Rupert
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by Rupert » Wed May 09, 2018 8:25 am

davebo wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 7:41 am
Most of them are great, but there are 1-2 that require 90% of the attention.
This will be the case no matter where you work. 1-2 employees will always require 90% of your attention. Honestly, this lady sounds pretty tame to me by problem-employee standards. It does not sound like she's done anything that might justify termination. And if she really has a disability, e.g., Asperger's, etc., be extra careful in how you deal with her, or HR will have your hide, not hers.

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goingup
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by goingup » Wed May 09, 2018 8:31 am

davebo wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 7:41 am
DrCheese wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 7:18 am
BusterMcTaco wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 1:31 am
fujiters wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 1:19 am
In this discussion, I feel like you're coming across as a problem manager.
I strongly agree.
I strongly agree too. I would be complaining to the VP about you if I was the employee.
I was venting when I wrote this, but I could probably try another approach. I'm actually very laid back overall.

Honestly, most of this is coming from being on a team with several 15-20 year employees. Most of them are great, but there are 1-2 that require 90% of the attention. In the times where someone has left and we've hired for an open position, I have always been surprised at how great the new hires were. In other words, there is a big opportunity cost to keeping employees that don't fit with the team.

Trust me, these observations are not just mine. I've had people from other teams question me about her in the last several weeks.
You can't be petty and be an awesome manager. That "problem employee" is your team member. Your job is to elicit her best performance. To do this you need to give her the tools she needs, provide direction and feedback, and engender some goodwill from her toward you. You need her and all the other team members to make you look good. Complaining to your superiors and your peers about her will surely damage your career.

Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Wed May 09, 2018 8:32 am

Ninnie wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 6:57 am
That wouldn't be a TPS form, would it? :wink:

She sounds like she might have Aspergian tendencies. Although that doesn't really change things for you other than to understand it.
Are you a qualified and certified physician? This new manager, the OP, should disregard the above post unless he wants to find himself with a sitdown in front of HR and attorneys.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

davebo
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by davebo » Wed May 09, 2018 8:33 am

The529guy wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 8:13 am
davebo wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 10:08 pm
celia wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 8:49 pm
davebo wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 8:05 pm
I'm a relatively new manager, just 6 months into the job. I inherited an employee and I think I'm seeing that we have a personality conflict. She has a fair amount of experience at other companies, but is pretty new to our company.
I think you may not appreciate her experience, especially if processes evolved over time. "Your way" may or may not be more efficient, but she will likely work more efficiently if she does things in a way that makes sense to her. Tell her the goal and let her perform it however she wants.

I'll give you an example. The other day, she emailed me about something not being updated in our system. I walked over and said it hasn't been updated, because she is in charge of updating the system when the routing form appears in her inbox (the form is sitting in her inbox) She says "I thought I need to wait for the email and I didn't see the email come across". I told her, "No, the email isn't the trigger, the routing form is since it has all the information to update the system". She says "Well I've been waiting for the email". I tell her, you don't need to wait for the email, once you receive this form in your inbox, you update the system. She pauses and says "I'm sorry, I don't understand". I show her the form and say "When this shows up in your inbox, you update the system."

She then goes on to tell me that she wants to keep a copy for her records so maybe she'll scan the form and save it. I tell her that she doesn't need to scan it, because after she updates the system and signs off, it goes in the file (which is scanned) by the clerical team. She then tells me that she'll scan it just to keep it for her records. Finally, I tell her not to do that because it will waste time and it's unnecessary. This usually ends with her getting very quiet, giving me a blank stare, and saying "Ok".

Maybe I'm not sympathetic because I've done the job before and remember getting trained. My boss said "When this shows up, update the system and pass it on". I just did it. I didn't question the process (of which I knew nothing about).
Ok, that sounds pretty awful. Do you think she’s playing dumb to be difficult, or just doesn’t get it?

How long did she typically last at the other companies she worked at?
Honestly if I had to guess, I would say she is playing dumb. I have no other explanation of it. I think it’s her way of challenging authority because, if she acts like she doesn’t understand it, then I have to explain the how/why to her. Keep in mind, this is a process that has been in place for years and was crafted partially by our internal audit team.

Her experience is varied. She sounds like she has hopped around a fair amount, but all the places she had worked have been in small offices where she had more autonomy.

ad2007
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by ad2007 » Wed May 09, 2018 8:35 am

The529guy wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 8:13 am
davebo wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 10:08 pm
celia wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 8:49 pm
davebo wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 8:05 pm
I'm a relatively new manager, just 6 months into the job. I inherited an employee and I think I'm seeing that we have a personality conflict. She has a fair amount of experience at other companies, but is pretty new to our company.
I think you may not appreciate her experience, especially if processes evolved over time. "Your way" may or may not be more efficient, but she will likely work more efficiently if she does things in a way that makes sense to her. Tell her the goal and let her perform it however she wants.

I'll give you an example. The other day, she emailed me about something not being updated in our system. I walked over and said it hasn't been updated, because she is in charge of updating the system when the routing form appears in her inbox (the form is sitting in her inbox) She says "I thought I need to wait for the email and I didn't see the email come across". I told her, "No, the email isn't the trigger, the routing form is since it has all the information to update the system". She says "Well I've been waiting for the email". I tell her, you don't need to wait for the email, once you receive this form in your inbox, you update the system. She pauses and says "I'm sorry, I don't understand". I show her the form and say "When this shows up in your inbox, you update the system."

She then goes on to tell me that she wants to keep a copy for her records so maybe she'll scan the form and save it. I tell her that she doesn't need to scan it, because after she updates the system and signs off, it goes in the file (which is scanned) by the clerical team. She then tells me that she'll scan it just to keep it for her records. Finally, I tell her not to do that because it will waste time and it's unnecessary. This usually ends with her getting very quiet, giving me a blank stare, and saying "Ok".

Maybe I'm not sympathetic because I've done the job before and remember getting trained. My boss said "When this shows up, update the system and pass it on". I just did it. I didn't question the process (of which I knew nothing about).
Ok, that sounds pretty awful. Do you think she’s playing dumb to be difficult, or just doesn’t get it?

How long did she typically last at the other companies she worked at?
Davebo,

Don't hate me... but I was laughing MAO when I read your exchange. Dilbert in the reverse for you, my friend. Solution: don't talk to her about mundane stuff like that, you are wasting your precious time. Who knows what her problem is. Simply send her an email saying "When this (physical form) shows up, update the system and pass it on". Put her on notice (write up) the next time she waits for an email about updating.

BTW why do you care if she records, scans, keep a copy of the form? Let her do whatever, but make sure she gets her job done. If she doesn't then you have every right to get rid of her.

Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Wed May 09, 2018 8:39 am

davebo wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 7:41 am
DrCheese wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 7:18 am
BusterMcTaco wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 1:31 am
fujiters wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 1:19 am
In this discussion, I feel like you're coming across as a problem manager.
I strongly agree.
I strongly agree too. I would be complaining to the VP about you if I was the employee.
I was venting when I wrote this, but I could probably try another approach. I'm actually very laid back overall.

Honestly, most of this is coming from being on a team with several 15-20 year employees. Most of them are great, but there are 1-2 that require 90% of the attention. In the times where someone has left and we've hired for an open position, I have always been surprised at how great the new hires were. In other words, there is a big opportunity cost to keeping employees that don't fit with the team.

Trust me, these observations are not just mine. I've had people from other teams question me about her in the last several weeks.
And before you became her manager, there was nary a peep about this and her performance appraisals indicate no issues? The problem is not her, you need to stop listening to "other teams" as you don't know if they have an agenda and are using you to accelerate it. The role of the manager as has been previously stated is to bring out the best in your team, that is what a manager does - takes the tools and resources in hand and makes miracles happen. Dig deep within yourself and make it happen. Ignore the outside influences and don't discuss your employees performance with no one but your employee, your manager and HR. If you decide or have broached this subject with "outsiders" you are digging yourself a hole you will not escape from. This will be a damaging move to your managerial aspirations.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

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The529guy
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by The529guy » Wed May 09, 2018 8:56 am

ad2007 wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 8:06 am
I would not want my boss/mentor to think I can't handle an employee like this.
I totally agree. +100

OnTrack2020
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by OnTrack2020 » Wed May 09, 2018 8:59 am

davebo, I'm sure you've read between the lines here. The vast majority of responses have been that the employee is not the problem in this situation.

A successful manager will find a way to make their employees successful, plain and simple. "Slightly awkward" is subjective. We can find "slightly awkward" in any person we meet.

She has had 20 more years experience than you, and has had 20 more years life experience. Don't discount that. A good employee will always ask questions--it's how inefficiencies are found. New employees will also ask questions.

She sounds proactive (asking questions and "what ifs"); you sound reactive (when there's a problem, then we'll fix it.)

You may have a team that is full of "yes" people, while she doesn't fit that mold and it's not well received by you.

Management training may help you.

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Sandtrap
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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by Sandtrap » Wed May 09, 2018 9:11 am

Time for a Lunch talk. Get to know each other. Human to human. Both need to eat.
Perhaps each of you could learn a lot from each other.

There is a word in Hawaiian called, "ho'o mali mali" which roughly means (Hawaiian words have zillions of meanings) "smooth the waters" or "calm the sea", etc, etc.
It's a mutually mature and very respectful way of finding common ground and working together on a human to human level sans rank, position, authority, etc.
"handle". . . people are not "handled".
"problem employee" . . . only awkward relationships that can be mutually fixed.

aloha
j

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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by Dyloot » Wed May 09, 2018 9:14 am

Sandtrap wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 9:11 am
Time for a Lunch talk. Get to know each other. Human to human. Both need to eat.
Perhaps each of you could learn a lot from each other.

There is a word in Hawaiian called, "ho'o mali mali" which roughly means (Hawaiian words have zillions of meanings) "smooth the waters" or "calm the sea", etc, etc.
It's a mutually mature and very respectful way of finding common ground and working together on a human to human level sans rank, position, authority, etc.
"handle". . . people are not "handled".
"problem employee" . . . only awkward relationships that can be mutually fixed.

aloha
j
Totally agree. And it may not be fixed in one lunch. Dedicate yourself.

As you likely were a high achiever in your last role, this is part of being a high achiever in your new role.

Good luck!

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Re: How to handle problem employee

Post by abner kravitz » Wed May 09, 2018 9:21 am

I bet that 20 years down the line, if you're still a manager, you'll say "I can't believe I thought SHE was a big problem". It sounds to me like you are still coming to grips with the fact that managers don't always get 100% blind obedience, like you were used to providing. Don't let it upset your ego. Nobody in the history of business ever got it.

Locked