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Submitted by SK68 on


Third time lucky! Can't seem to post...

Shortest version.

We have a poor performer. He is resistant. He doesn't report. He sees status reporting as bureaucratic nonsense. He acts way outside of his authority - example: he placed an order for something so expensive only the CEO has sign off authority, with no authority to do so. What then did arrive was really poor quality. One thing too big, the other too small. He rarely delivers on assigned work and does his own thing. His own thing is also not very good quality.

I manage his manager. I see her mainly doing the right things with no change.

There is a huge mismatch between is ability and where he thinks he is at. He is underperforming at individual contributor level, yet wished to apply for a Director level job in the org. We are undertaking a restructure and all roles were up for application.

He didn't apply for any roles, so is definitely off in 3 months.

Here's the issue. He can't be trusted with much of our work. He won't follow process. He deliberately circumnavigates simple membership processes, such as our members signing up for tickets to events by instead promising people "yeah no worries just tell me 30 people are coming, no need for these forms!". I say deliberately because he agrees he does it on purpose. He doesn't approve of process. He thinks its a barrier.

I share this not for advice on the issues. Rather, how would you advise his manager to manage out the next few months? I don't want her putting tons of time into our only poor performer. I also don't want him to continue disrupting our work. Any thoughts?

LEmerson's picture

If you listen to the podcasts on this site, one theme that carries through is to focus on behaviors when giving feedback, not thoughts or characterizations. Thoughts and characterizations are vague and leave the direct with wide opportunity to rationalize the behavior. The feedback model is based on explaining the specific behavior that needs to be changed, explaining the negative effects of the behavior, and getting a commitment from the direct they will change the behavior.

If the direct truly can't be trusted, refuses to follow the directions of management, and defiantly ignores direct instructions from management, it seems this toxic situation has gone on way too long. You said his manager does "mainly the right things," but I'm not sure I'd agree with that. When I see a situation with a direct that far off the rails, it indicates to me the problem is management, not the employee.

Feedback podcasts will not only help drill down to find a specific solution, but will also provide documentation of the behavior patterns that might come in handy down the road. If all the problems you mentioned are true, and good management is not successful in getting the direct to change the behavior, why is the person still employed by your company?

SK68's picture
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It's a very good question. Thanks for your comment. He is still with us because of organisational politics above any of us, is the long and short of it. Those same privileges no doubt lend to the behaviours. Too long a story to tell, but an exit in 3 months is what I've managed to get to, and that's the situation I have to work with! If it were not for the manager's meticulous documentation, discussions, coaching etc etc we wouldn't have got to there. The question for me now is how best to navigate that.

LEmerson's picture

I had a sneaking suspicion that might be the case. The worst offender I've had in the defiance area was a similar situation. I headed up a team that was the engine of our business. There were four team members at the time who I recruited, hired, trained and managed. It took them all two or three years to prove themselves to be key personell. The ownership team recruited a person from out of state and put them on my team. This person was extremely intelligent and accomplished, and swaggered in on her first day like she was something really special. This created resentment among those who had paid their dues for years to earn their positions.

I was responsible for hiring, managing, and firing team members, except this person. I had to deal repeatedly with the same problems of disruption, getting to the point of instructing all the other team members to not allow any directions from her to be followed without informing me first. It's a bad situation to manage a person who you don't have the authority to discipline or terminate. I'd be glad you're able to see the light at the end of the tunnel when this person leaves, but don't be surprised if plans change.

SK68's picture
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Its a real pain isn't it! I keep reminding my direct that it's a fantastic life lesson.