I am new manager of 6months. I have 5 direct reports. I have been doing O3's and just started the FB model.

Last week: I had one of my directs come to me last week stressing their concern that they feel how they are undervalued and over worked. Compensation was a reoccurring theme more than the being over worked was. We discussed possible options and maintaining a proper work/life balance.

This week: using the how to assign a task model,. I asked the same direct if he could do X and have it to me by Y. This is what ensued

Direct: Why did you assign me X,
Direct: I am super busy
Direct: I don't have time.

Me: I understand that you are busy, however being busy is not a reason to push back on a task I assigned.

Direct: I am just so busy that I am working on so many things. Where am I going to find the time?

Me: Again, I understand,. I know how it can feel. Can you tell me what projects/assignments that you are currently working. so that I can get a clear understanding and
help prioritize these with you.

Direct: Just too much, I don't have to time to tell you what they all are, or explain them

Me: I am not seeing how we can not go through a list of current tasks.

Direct: I have X & Y, plus all these tasks from before that need to be done
Direct: I am just here to my job, not to fill out unnecessary reports. Everyone is pulling me in different directions

Me: I understand, You know that we recently put a new ticketing system in place to counter act people always coming up to you with requests, I will take care of this to ensure proper procedures are being followed.

Direct: Why don't you do the report, instead of assigning to me?
Direct: I have been here 9months, you have only been here for 6

Me: (getting angry)
Me: How long I have been here is irrelevant to this discussion, which is why you feel you can not find the time to do a task I assigned to you
Me: I have a meeting I have to step out too, we will discuss this more later

Now this is where my inexperience kicked in,. I was stumped. I didn't know how to address this, outside of anger (which I know is not a correct response.)

I have assigned tasks before, some get done, some do not.

My gut is telling me that I believe he is looking to jump ship, as there are many indications pointing to that, Lots of days off, (sick, hurt foot, license expired, etc.), Showing up late in the mornings. a few times a couple of hours, when asked where he was (cause someone was looking for him) was told he was offsite at our other location. When I asked him to please let me know either email or calling if he is going to be late, in case someone is looking for him. He said he would, Did it once, but then it dropped off. I had to remind he repeatedly.

The old manager was still here until 1 week ago, finishing up a project. Coincidently the above conversation started happening shortly there after. One of the main reason the old Manager was leaving (retiring) he was VERY jaded and toxic. However he was good at his job, that gave him a pass.


pucciot's picture
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Wow, there is a lot in here.  Each point may need to be addressed in several ways.

Obviously you have not had a lot of time to establish a great amount of Relationship Power.

You will have to lean on Role Power a bit here.

And for now I may offer something that may help you.

Here are some words you may say :

"I appreciate your conscientiousness and dedication to your work.  It is obvious that you care deeply about getting your job done well.  

Please be sure that I am noticing the work that you are doing and that I will take all of this into account when I do your appraisal at the annual review time.

For right now, I am setting some things into different priorities than you may think.  And be aware that I may change the priorities at any time.

I, as your supervisor, am willing to see some short-term loss of productivity in some of your other work if that is what it takes for you to get this new task that I am assigning to you accomplished.

Let me be clear.  I am assigning this task to you to accomplish because I believe that you can do it.  I expect you to find a way to fit it into your workload.  I know you can do it, even it means that a little bit of timeliness and productivity on those other things takes a little bit of a hit at first.   If that happens, you and I can always talk about it later."


What does this little speech do ?

A - It compliments them on their work

B - It assures them that you notice the work and will judge them fairly at appraisal time

C - It reinforces that you set the priorities 

D – It reinforces that you are allowed to set tasks and will have reasonable expectations about their completion.

F - It shows that you are willing to be flexible with your expectations, without removing the expectations alltogether.

You may have to repeat this a few times to them :

"I, as your supervisor, am willing to see some short-term loss of productivity in some of your other work if that is what it takes for you to get this new task that I am assigning to you accomplished."

This leans on your Role Power, but it also takes away thier excuses, and lets them a little off the hook.

It will give you more time to build trust and a relationship.

I hope this is helpful.

Good Luck