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Underperforming Colleague

(31 Posts)
NHSemployee Sun 07-Dec-14 08:45:13

I will be going into a new post in January in NHS. As part of my job I have been asked to manage an admin assistant. A couple of weeks ago I met up with his current line manager who is about to go on mat leave to go through the admin assistant's tasks and responsibilities. Her opinion of this assistant was he'll do the job as long as you keep an eye on him and spot check his work now and again. His last appraisal and 1:1 report raised no obvious concerns.

Later that week I met with a newly qualified Member of their team and her opinion of the admin assistant was much more worrying. She works on a daily basis with him whilst her line manager only sees the admin assistant once a week. According to the NQ team member the admin assistant has problems with almost every single area of his work including stock control and ordering of vital equipment for the wards and makes constant mistakes triaging patient referrals resulting them sent to the wrong departments and in delays in appointments. The NQ team member says the admin assistants manager knows about these problems and they have been taken to double checking most things he does. The NQ team member also says the line manager isn't interested I addressing the issue as she doesn't want the hassle and will be on mat leave soon anyway. The NQ team member said when she has pulled up the admin assistant in the past when the wards had completely run out of equipment he had been very passive aggressive towards her so she backed down as she didn't want to be seen as bullying the admin assistant.

The NQ team member will also leave in January and we will be getting 2 brand new members of staff with no experience of the hospitals systems. I have as a result of these conversations raised all these concerns with the overall team manager and she has arranged for herself, myself, the Admin assistants manager and the NQ team member to meet up tomorrow and discuss what's been happening.

I'm worried I'm walking into a situation where patient care could be seriously compromised as a result of the admin assistants underperformance not been addressed by his current line manager. This will also be my first role where I have to manage someone else. AIBU to say to the team manager I feel out of my depth in this situation and request I don't manage this person.

EdithWeston Sun 07-Dec-14 08:50:37

If you feel out of depth in a role where you manage staff, you had better start looking for new roles where you do not have that responsibility.

Yes, of course it's daunting when you take up a new level of responsibility. But you can't just cut off bits of a role because you're scared of them,

You can however ask for advice and mentoring for yourself, to make as sure you do things correctly and as well as possible.

nicelyneurotic Sun 07-Dec-14 08:53:43

If you are a manager then, unfortunately, you are expected to deal with this type of situation, so uabu.

Make sure you document everything and check in with HR as you go so they are aware of the situation.

Also, have meetings with this person regularly and get to the bottom of it. It may be that they have never been shown properly how things work. Give them support at first, and if they turn out to be lazy and just don't care then you'll need to deal with it via official channels (warnings, ultimately dismissal).

I've never worked in the NHS though so hopefully someone from there can give some advice.

NHSemployee Sun 07-Dec-14 09:54:20

Appreciate comments and yes managing this person is something I'll have to suck up. Just so annoyed at current line manager not caring about what happens to the service after she's gone and leaving someone else to deal with potential fallout from her lack of action.

Can I ask HR to put on record what I have found out about what's been happening so far as I doubt come the new year the new starters will have the knowledge/ capacity to double check everything the admin assistant does on a daily basis. I want to make sure we're all covered and they know the backstory if the admin assistant does or doesn't do something which compromises patient care.

ilovesooty Sun 07-Dec-14 10:07:37

I don't think you should ask to document something which is second hand information. You need to start managing the person and make your own judgements of their performance. I don't think you should even have been listening to the opinion of the other team member about this assistant and the line manager's handling of his performance in the first place.

Fabulous46 Sun 07-Dec-14 10:14:17

I think you need to manage this person for yourself before making any judgements on whether they are under performing or not. You aren't even in post yet and have already made your mind up they aren't performing which is unfair on them. I manage a large team and before I was in post heard all sorts of horror stories about individual members of staff. It transpired the old managers management style was detrimental to those staff members who had felt very bullied by him. I feel quite sorry for this Admin Assistant as you appear to have already made your mind up about them. That's really unprofessional behaviour for a manager in my view.

MidniteScribbler Sun 07-Dec-14 10:18:19

I'd be more concerned about staff members who thought that the first thing they should tell a new manager is how bad their colleague is. Very unprofessional.

MrsNuckyThompson Sun 07-Dec-14 10:18:47

Grow a pair! You have the opportunity here to really make a difference by putting this guy on a formal performance management plan and either supporting him to get it right and if not to terminate him.

Why do managers (and I get the fact that this is an inherited problem for you) turn a blind eye instead of taking the opportunity to manage people out and get someone better in order to improve service?

IrenetheQuaint Sun 07-Dec-14 10:19:24

I'd avoid catastrophising based on a conversation with only one, newly qualified person who will be leaving anyway. Go into the meeting with an open mind and then judge for yourself when you're in post.

mwalimu Sun 07-Dec-14 10:24:11

Wow; I feel really sorry for this admin assistant. You've called meetings to discuss his underperformance based on gossip??? You all sound very unprofessional. He is being made a scape goat for your own inadequacies in your new management position!

Topseyt Sun 07-Dec-14 10:30:43

I would hesitate to pass on second hand information to management as if it were fact. It could be true of course, but equally it could be that some of the team members have made his life difficult and are bearing grudges / playing power politics.

Evaluate his attitude and skills yourself first. It will quickly become clear what the true situation is. Only way, I guess. You might find he works well for you (or not,as the case may be).

LongDistanceLove Sun 07-Dec-14 10:32:07

To be honest, it all sounds very unprofessional, you included.

As others have said, you have made up your mind based on a nq team member and not his manager, is there a reason for that?

You've written this person off without working with him. That's just unprofessional tbh.

NHSemployee Sun 07-Dec-14 10:32:45

the reason I believe the NQ team member is because she and the admin assistant are actually good friends though when she pulls him up on his errors and tries help him he reacts badly. She told me this information in the hope we could help him improve his performance as she thinks he could be heading for disciplinary action

mwalimu Sun 07-Dec-14 10:35:35

Jesus Christ, get some management training

sanfairyanne Sun 07-Dec-14 10:38:16

as others say, it is gossip you are judging him on and it is totally naive to just think 'oh they are friends so she must be telling the truth'
shock to your managerial approach so far

SkyHighWhy Sun 07-Dec-14 10:39:42

You could get a copy of each of your team members' job descriptions, then sit down with each person 1:1 and ask:
are you clear about your role, your responsibilities?
are you aware of the standard you are required to perform to?
do you have all the resources you need to perform to the standard required?
can you suggest any improvements which would improve efficiency?
Use the opportunity to convey to each of them your own expectations, that they can approach you about anything, etc.

Go in with an open mind and keep a close eye on everyone initially. HR and your manager should be able to guide you (each in different ways).

It's probably easier to manage with a view to obtaining a performance improvement than with a view to manage someone out (IME).

The mouthy ones do not always have the unit's or organisation's interests at heart, sometimes there's a personality clash, and/or they just want a quiet life for themselves.

ilovesooty Sun 07-Dec-14 10:41:32

Have you ever actually had any management training? I'm aghast at what you think is professionally acceptable conversation and your apparent lack of boundaries.

You absolutely cannot make any judgments before you are in post, and based on gossip. Please, do nothing until January and until you're spent a couple of weeks in post. I think you were absolutely wrong to have arranged the meeting for tomorrow, tbh, and I'm astonished that the overall manager has agreed to it.

mwalimu Sun 07-Dec-14 11:07:54

The only person we can definitely say is being shit at their job, in this circumstance is YOU OP!

This should bite you on the ass, but knowing the nhs, it wont

2minsofyourtime Sun 07-Dec-14 11:45:08

Poor admin assistant, bet he turns out to be really good and nq is a bit of a shit stirer, and rather than being friends with mat leave lady hates her really and is trying to cause trouble.

I can't believe you are having a meeting about him and he doesn't even know!

zeezeek Sun 07-Dec-14 15:46:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

zeezeek Sun 07-Dec-14 15:50:47

The NHS is well known for bitchiness and pettiness and shit management (I say this as an ex-NHS manager). For all you know, this guy is perfectly good at his job and other members of the team are undermining and bullying him (something which I saw happen a lot to admin staff, sometimes by nurses on the ward). And now you are going into a new role with preconceived ideas about someone's performance - based on gossip, so don't be surprised if you end up on the wrong side of a grievance.

zeezeek Sun 07-Dec-14 15:52:32

Have just reported myself for my insane double posting!

Fabulous46 Sun 07-Dec-14 15:56:55

don't be surprised if you end up on the wrong side of a grievance.

I completely agree with this. I'd be encouraging the Admin Asst to take out a grievance against you as you're having a meeting on his performance without his knowledge AND before you're even in post. It smacks of unprofessionalism by an inexperienced manager. If you can't manage staff effectively and FAIRLY you shouldn't be reconsidering taking this post.

PossumPoo Sun 07-Dec-14 16:00:48

OP l hope you are taking on board what poster's are saying. It is wrong on so many levels that l am shock

I work in HR and you definitely need manager training and to speak with your HR dept ASAP. Please dont mention the admin assistant in your meeting tomorrow.

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