Managing people you don’t manage

What are your tips for managing staff who you don’t directly manage? I have a manager (one of my direct reports) who has a member of staff who is not performing, I have provided advice and guidance to this manager on how to manage the staff member and what to do (using the manager tools guidance), however this staff member is having an effect on other staff and is slowing us down. I don’t want to shoot in over the top and sort it out as this would undermine the manager; however it’s now becoming frustrating for me and de-motiving for others. What advice would you give?

Manage the people you *do* manage

If there are specific behaviours that you need your skip to stop engaging in now, you tell your direct that you expect them to stop the behaviour.  If they don't address it effectively, you give them feedback.  "When you don't tell Bob to knock off the swearing, it causes disruption and loss of productivity to the rest of the department.  Can you work on that please?"  If they haven't already been coached in feedback or (God forbid, even one-on-ones), that's something to put on your todo list.

You are 100% correct when you say that stepping in and dealing with it would undermine your direct.  If a manager doesn't get to exercise their manager muscles, they'll never develop them, so you need to avoid doing the "manager work" for your direct.  You may have to tolerate sub-optimal behaviour from your skip for a bit longer than you'd like, but I see that as a consequence of not keeping on top of your direct and helping them to effectively address the problem behaviour immediately.  Wisdom from the back of a van: "A big problem is just a small problem that didn't get handled".  I would have been giving feedback every time your direct didn't follow your guidance, right from the start of this.


I know we like to talk about behaviours more than feelings but one-on-ones could (should) bring out the causes of the performance issue. Identifying the root cause and dealing with that can be more beneficial than tackling the symptoms. If there are personal problems, career issues, interpersonal conflicts, etc. then your Direct needs to help diagnose these and work with the individual to either deal with or work around the issues.

Hope this helps! Jonno.

 sounds as though your

 sounds as though your direct isn't getting his job done. It's an opportunity for coaching in management, but in the meantime, you can't afford a toxic employee. Maybe approach this skip as a team and let your direct see how you handle it directly. Great learning opportunity for a manager, and having the boss' boss involved will only help get this troublesome employee to pay attention.