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WWYD re. passive-aggressive co-worker?

(37 Posts)
BossyBitch Wed 10-May-17 16:37:33

For the past two years I've worked with this man, Nigel (not his real name, obviously). Nigel is technically slightly more senior than me but is the most unfortunately incompetent manager I've ever had to work with. I also outrank him in the project on which we collaborate (he's the technical lead for one of two streams and I'm the client facing global delivery manager), which irks Nigel to no end.

Nigel can't be replaced because ... reasons (basically, his boss knows he's useless and wants him on the project because this makes him my problem as opposed to his), which more often than not means I end up having to personally double check and re-do half of his stuff to avoid disaster. His achievements include highlights such as approving simultaneous leave for his entire team in the days before major milestones, misreporting billable hours, having a team member of his work completely illegal hours for months on end, and so on and so forth - you name it, he's screwed it up.

Having had enough after his latest fuck-up, I wrote an (admittedly not very nice but professional throughout - I had someone read it before rage-mailing) e-mail to him CCing both my boss and Nigel's. Here'so what the fuck wad replied:

[lengthy explanation as to why every single member of the team except him is to blame even though it's his work stream that funked up] ... as I have stated on numerous occasions, I am more than happy to take on additional management responsibility for [project] and am still anxiously awaiting an opportunity to do so. I am confident that my skills could be better leveraged given more seniority

Now this is very much not a question of how I defend myself. I'm not being threatened here. Everyone involved (minus himself) gets that Nigel is incompetent, and he's just shown himself to grossly unaware of the fact. But how on earth do I respond, given that this is business and 'oh do fuck off!' Is not an option?

drspouse Wed 10-May-17 16:42:36

He thinks you're going to boot him upstairs to get him out of your way.

Can you not just mention a couple of his management cock-ups (e.g. the simultaneous leave and the illegal hours) and suggest he's not ready for management?

Can't you write him a few disciplinary letters to arrive on consecutive days, while you're at it?

QuiteLikely5 Wed 10-May-17 16:43:34

How about you highlight that once he demonstrates competency in the tasks he has already been given then consideration will be given to additional responsibilities

EllaElla Wed 10-May-17 16:43:47

What were you hoping to achieve with your mail to him? It's unclear.

TheSnowFairy Wed 10-May-17 16:45:28

Do not reply.

Sit on your hands.

Turn off your computer.

You've done what you set out to do, you've highlighted his idiocy to management.

Now do nothing.

MrsPicklesonSmythe Wed 10-May-17 17:32:12

Even though you'd be right to point out one or two reasons you can't allow him to have any seniority, I don't think there's a way to respond to this that won't make you sound like a cock.
I'd say nothing seeing as everyone already knows the situation but I do sympathise.

BossyBitch Wed 10-May-17 18:37:30

What were you hoping to achieve with your mail to him? It's unclear.

Something very hands-on actually (to do with the fact that he'd fucked up his ressource plan for the third time running; asking him to fix staffing situation whigh would have resulted in a breach of contract opposite the client - can't get any more specific).

Wish I could have him disciplined - I can't, I'm not his line manager. He's more senior than me as far as the firm's org. chart is concerned but I outrank him functionally on the project in question.

Not sure if not replying is an option when the email starts with 'Hi Bossy'; all I really want is for him to shut the hell up and just do the job he's paid to do.

Also, passive-aggressive incompetent folk puss me the he'll off!

BossyBitch Wed 10-May-17 18:38:53

*piss - thanks ever so much, autocorrect!

BossyBitch Wed 10-May-17 18:40:03

... and *hell and all that good stuff. I give up!

SashaSashays Wed 10-May-17 19:05:04

Can you be quite upbeat? Don't show how annoyed you are by this response.

Also use it as an opportunity to reiterate what you need from him.

I think I'd go with a sort of "Thanks for the feedback, great to hear you are willing to take on more in the future, I'll definitely bear that in mind. For now the best thing for the project really would be to get X, Y and Z on track. Priority must be given to the resolution of (current issue you mentioned) and then a focus on ensuring (things you mentioned) do not recur"

That way you're highlighting you've got his number on various fuck ups and putting the onus on him to deliver a resolution and better performance?

Difficult as i don't know Nigel or your work environment.

BossyBitch Wed 10-May-17 19:30:44

Can't I just reply 'oh fuck off, you useless, self-infatuated fuck'?

That would be horribly unprofessional, wouldn't it? I just want to so, so badly!

Botanicbaby Wed 10-May-17 19:31:31

Did he really reply using the words 'leveraged' and 'anxiously awaiting'?

I think you should have discussed issues with him before you emailed him and cc'd both of your managers as that comes across as passive aggressive behaviour.

ImperialBlether Wed 10-May-17 19:34:11

I wouldn't reply to him at all while you're feeling like this. I'd like to know why he thinks he deserves promotion when he's in trouble for not doing his job properly.

ScissorBow Wed 10-May-17 19:36:46

Google how to deal with someone who is 'unconsciously incompetent'

BossyBitch Wed 10-May-17 19:51:32

Botanic but of course he did! The quote is a direct copy-paste. This is actually Nigel light. Nigel also loves to leverage (so to speak) the expressions 'going forward', 'harnessing our growth potential', 'conceptualising' as well as the absolutely insufferable 'proactivating' (the meaning of which, quite frankly, I still don't quite get). Basically, if it's ever turned up on a management speak Bullshit Bingo card within the last decade or so, he'll not only write it, he'll actually say it. That's what happens when you send morons to mandatory corporate training and it's actually rather hilarious when it's not passing me the fuck off. grin

Imperial whatever you do for a living, I envy you! In my line of work, you either progress because you suffer from low confidence but work your arse off and absolutely kill, or because you're a self-infatuated dick. Have I mentioned I'm in consulting?

BossyBitch Wed 10-May-17 19:56:38

ScissorBow, I insist that I get extra irony award points for first meeting Nigel as he was pontificating to my (very much not a point in case) boss on the Dunning-Krüger effect.

Botanicbaby Wed 10-May-17 20:01:45

OP then I feel your pain. Agree with others, don't reply to him yet.
Can he be ignored as much as possible instead?

stumblymonkeyreturns Wed 10-May-17 20:17:46

Just reply with size 48 font

*Dunning-Kruger Nigel, Dunning-Kruger.
Then sign off and get a glass of wine grin

Chottie Wed 10-May-17 20:21:54

Can you not restructure your department and ensure that Nigel is left without a chair when the music stops?............

Madwoman5 Wed 10-May-17 20:23:57

What you require is for nigel to accept and action those tasks he is responsible for now. His manager sounds incompetent to not have resolved this by now. I had one like this. I had to spell it out. Your role is to deliver this by then. Simple. Spend your time and energy demonstrating that you can do that by delivering to the required standard , budget and deadline. Only once you have shown consistency will you be considered for more responsibility.

wowfudge Wed 10-May-17 20:24:13

I think I may have worked with Nigel in the past. A colleague nearly decked him in the street after a particularly toe-curling meeting with a client.

ManoloChooBoutin Wed 10-May-17 20:24:28


I've heard we've just won a new piece of work at client X. Perhaps you could talk to the project leader and leverage your skills there going forward? I've heard the project lead likes people who are good at proactivating, and imagine that he'd therefore be excellent at harnessing your growth potential.

I'll see if I can find someone on the bench who doesn't make up words.


Whereismumhiding2 Wed 10-May-17 20:29:33

Plot to give him enough rope to hang himself. Fuckwits always do.

Either don't reply at all.


Wait 4 days before you reply. Draft it on word but not in email. Check it with several colleagues or your manager.
Then say "I'm glad you feel ready to take on more responsibility. I have had to resolve a number of errors you have made on a several projects, which I identified to/for you, and believe you ought be competent/(able?) to deal with these yourself at your level of experience/time with the company.

Please discuss with X manager about taking on a project you are entirely responsible for and for which you report direct to him/her.

I look forward to hearing about your future success in moving things forward /(or other such Nigel speak)

Kind regards,

BossyBitch Wed 10-May-17 20:29:42

Adult me gets that I'm not supposed to be bitchy (though, to be fair, I'm female, I'm management and I work in a male dominated field, so really half of them think that I am whatever I actually say or do). But here's what childish me would love to reply:


You'll get more responsibility whenever you stop fucking up whatever we'very already put you in charge of. Or maybe when I find a senior partner dumb enough to believe me that you should be promoted ASAP. I'm really okay with you getting more seniority so long as it means I'll be rid of you. I'm just about ready to convert to Catholicism if it means I'll get to nominate you for Pope and have you promoted out of my way. (Before you ask in earnest: no, Catholicism doesn't actually work that way, so, yes, I was in fact being sarcastic! I feel the need to point this out because, given your track record, I can't be sure you'll be able to tell.)

Regards, Bossy

PS: FYI, Tami, the new analyst in my team, basically stalks your work as a full-time job at present. She graduated three months ago and is already capable of fixing at least 70 percent of your daily fuck-ups without supervision. When you finally get more seniority, I'm really looking forward to giving her a role that actually challenges her.

And, no, I'm not writing that to him. Just typing it out here felt really satisfying, though!

TheEmmaDilemma Wed 10-May-17 20:32:32

Can you not just go above him and get help to address this?

If someone was risking a project I was on, I'm afraid I would raise that above them in heart beat.

But, yeah, he sounds a cunt.

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