When Co Workers Won't "Stay In Their Lane"

Reply Fri 14 Feb, 2020 09:50 am
Oh... how many words can I write? Here's the short version:

I joined a company four years ago as part of a unified Technical Support / Training Team. My sole purpose was to develop and deliver training to my region. After the regions in my organization merged into one national entity last summer, management decided to separate the two functions and promote me to a Manager for the newly formed training department.

Since then, I've received nothing but cold shoulders from the two women I worked (and continue to work) with. Congratulations has never exited either of their mouths.

That aside, I am running into challenges with one of the ladies' misguided ambition (or feeble attempt to make me look bad). Most recently, she called me to inform me that she needed my help on a Training document. Upon further discussion I discovered that she had taken one of my PDF's and superimposed her own graphics on top of mine without my knowledge. She had also proceeded to engage in several editing conversations but had to call me when she realized the client's needs were beyond her level of expertise.

When I asked why I wasn't brought in earlier, she never could offer a direct answer which leads me to believe that her "initiative" was cloaked with malicious intent. Now she wants me to jump to clean up her mess. As a new manager, I want to show that I'm a team player, but now the person she engaged for her little rogue project is asking for a laundry list of edits, and I had not budgeted time to clean up her mess.

How can I stop this train from crashing without looking like a pouty B**** (although I am quite upset that she's altering documents without asking).

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Reply Fri 14 Feb, 2020 11:34 am
Is she directly under you? Do you decide on her salary and review, and whether she continues to be employed by the company? Never mind if it's with the help of someone or if you provide input but aren't the final decision maker. If you are anywhere in the process, then you're not being a whiny bitch to ask for people to do what you need for them to do, and not go off on their own little tangents.

Is there a process for working for clients? Are proposals written down, stored, etc.? Are they vetted before going to the client? Then this employee has likely ignored the process. And this is what happens when you do.

If there is no such process, then use this situation as a learning opportunity and create one. I know that doesn't help you now, but it'll help in the future.

Now back to today.

Have a meeting with this woman. Less about her tossing her 2 cents into your training documents. More about the chain of command/sequence of operations for doing things. Even if there is no procedure in place (yet), going rogue isn't helping anyone. And overpromising and underdelivering is the polar opposite of what you want to do. Work out with her a plan about how the two of you, together, are going to fix this clusterfuck. Give her a short-ish deadline to get things done from her end. Not so short that it's impossible for her to meet expectations. I mean more for her to feel a bit of the pain of this problem, perhaps staying late, etc.

Note: I'm not suggesting being vindictive. It's more that if she skips away with no pain or consequences, with lots of time to do very little (or nothing), then she won't learn from this experience. And the short-ish time frame is also for the benefit of your client. Your department messed up. The client deserves as quick a fix as you can give them, regardless of how or why or who caused the problem.

Finally, don't expect congratulations or the like from people you've been working with if you were promoted from the pool and they were not. It's possible they were also vying for this role. They may be resentful. Don't stoop to that level.

At the same time, though, keep in mind that you're not pals any more, if you ever were. You are now boss and employees. This means you call the shots, you ask them to do stuff, and they do it. You can be cordial (you should be). And you can get input from them, and sometimes accept it over your own ideas (another thing you should do). But the power dynamic should be obvious. Right now, it isn't.

Being a manager doesn't mean choosing to be nice but a doormat, or mean and hated but at least listened to. You can straddle the middle line. Be assertive. Make your requests crystal clear. Praise people for jobs well-done, and do so in public. Confer with them about mess-ups, but do so in private.

Be. The. Boss.
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Tai Chi
Reply Sat 15 Feb, 2020 08:26 am
Excellent post Jes.
Reply Sat 15 Feb, 2020 09:44 am
@Tai Chi,
Oh, thanks! I'm in my first paid managerial role since, egad, 1999 I believe. Every day, I try to channel the best bosses I've ever had. Smile
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