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To ask for advice about difficult male colleague

(15 Posts)
littlemisseatsherfeelings Tue 16-May-17 22:59:02

This is less of a 'back to work' as I have been back nearly 2 years but couldn't find a better category.

So since I came back from my last mat leave 2 yrs ago, my role changed. The guy who had previously been a team colleague/equal and had been asked to cover my account while I was gone, became one of a small team I was put in charge of.

So he's 10 years older, was an equal, I left for 9 months and came back as his line manager - and he's a he. I get it, I'd be a bit miffed too if someone disappeared for 9 months and then came back as my boss. He's a bit old school too, leaders should be male etc. I'm sure he has a chip on his shoulder about that.

I may be younger but I've actually been working in this field and with this customer for a decade, him (field for 3-4 years, this customer 2) so I legitimately have more experience and established relationships with the customers. I don't feel ill placed in my role, it was a natural and earned progression.

It has been a nightmare. He won't do anything I ask him without asking him multiple times. I don't enjoy it. I have no weird pleasure in nagging. He procrastinates and avoids anything I ask him about or to do - even if not doing said thing makes his life harder, not mine. It's hard to give lots of examples without this becoming an epic first post.

It's getting me so down. I dread walking into the office. I never know what mood he'll be in. It's also making me doubt everything about myself, what I say, how I come across, body language etc. No one else seems to have a problem with me though.

I need advice on how to manage him!

I have tried to read up research and articles for guidance (most say you have to earn their respect and I honestly think I've worked the way most of these articles describe, but hard to know how I come across for certain) but would prefer some real life wisdom and first hand experience.

Anyone been through this?

littlemisseatsherfeelings Tue 16-May-17 23:01:25

Just realised first sentence makes no sense. Was originally going to post in 'work'.

CrockedPot Tue 16-May-17 23:06:11

I don't think you'll get anywhere without an open and frank conversation with him. I'd be hauling him in for a chat. Lay it out. Take HR advice if necessary but don't be scared of talking to him.

KickAssAngel Tue 16-May-17 23:07:07

Call him in for a meeting and tell him that from now on if he's unable to follow instructions you will be reporting it as incompetence to your boss or HR. Doesn't matter if it's him having the sulks (for 2 years 😦) or because he's somehow unable to hear female voices. If he can't hear instructions and can't follow them he can't do the job.

Do this calmly, practise in advance if necessary, and clearly. You are right, he is wrong, he is not doing his job and needs to be told.

harderandharder2breathe Tue 16-May-17 23:10:17

Follow your organisations disciplinary procedures if he isn't doing what he should be. Let him know that you will be doing this.

MaisyPops Tue 16-May-17 23:12:28

Open and Frank chat (preferably with a neutral party present) and then have all requests in email date stamped with clear deadlines.
If he's smart hell buck up. If he's not then you have your evidence to go to management.

Crackedidiot Tue 16-May-17 23:15:32

Angel is right. You need to have a difficult conversation with him .One that leaves him in no doubt about what is required of him in his line of work and what the consequences are of him not doing that.
Try not to allow your history get in the way .This is where you both are now and he needs to do his fucking job and let you do yours.

travailtotravel Tue 16-May-17 23:15:56

Have clear examples ready. Document as many times as you can remember. Note down any impact eg client delivery was delayed by 1 day, added extra pressure on x to complete their part of the project.

This will help arm you with evidence for a chat with your boss. I've had this issue, tried xyz and am now going to try this - do you have any advice? Then have the chat with this chap. Escalate to your boss first in case he wants to go straight to HR etc

littlemisseatsherfeelings Tue 16-May-17 23:31:00

Thank you all

I have several examples I can use of projects that have been hindered and damage to relationship with client because of his unwillingness to do his part (from sulking - good word!).

I was trying to avoid the list of examples as I was worried it would seem a bit petty, but you're right, it covers my back from the 'proper' and legal point of view. I shall start noting things down, including the historical ones. Other examples I just thought of, I put reminders in his calendars to do tasks and he just ignores them. When I ask for the info required: garbled nothing responses as to why it's not done.

I brought the issue up during his appraisal this year too, that he doesn't respond well to feedback or questions or requests from me, that he becomes quite hostile and his entire persona shuts down (he's known as being 'bubbly' usually) but he laughed it off. I invited him to say if he thought my approach wasn't right or he didn't like something's I did etc, but he just said no not really. Then promptly returned to being a hostile dick since.

I want to a) cover my back from shitstorms that I have tried to steer us away from as a business, because ultimately I'm accountable and b) not feel shit about going to a job that I (used to) like and am good at.

I think deep down I knew HR was the route... I have already raised it several times with my own manager (also female, so his bosses boss is a woman too, poor thing) but I guess until I make it official they must think it's not 'that bad'.

Sorry - long reply. Have no one to talk to! sad

KeepServingTheDrinks Tue 16-May-17 23:38:25

Put everything to him in writing (email is fine). Ask him to confirm if he has any questions or queries.

Follow up (in writing. Email is fine) to ask why he hasn't done and why.

Bingo - there's your evidence!

littlemisseatsherfeelings Tue 16-May-17 23:42:04

Yep started to do that with everything just this past week. Even if I ask in person, am then formalising request.
E.g. Can you confirm you have.... as we discussed today... for project xyz.

Bloody ridiculous, 50 yr old man being micro managed. I'm sure he'd be mortified if he could read this all now. But my sympathy promptly disappears by about 9.05 every day sad

ChasedByBees Tue 16-May-17 23:47:46

I had a very similar scenario. Keep a diary of events and yes you need to speak with HR. Earn their respect is all well and good but it doesn't account for situations where there are gender issues. All these management books are written by men and are utterly oblivious to how certain colleagues can make it ten times as hard to do the same job.

JustKeepDancing Tue 16-May-17 23:55:57

I'd second the HR route - and raise with your manager or a senior at the first opportunity that you're going down that route - every organisation has a different way of working but if it's been documented at appraisal you're in a good situation to highlight the lack of changes.
In the short term it may also be useful to send follow up emails "hi X, as discussed this morning, it'd be appreciated if you could follow up on X by X and update me on the outcome when you have heard back". Its much harder to come back from ignoring written instructions as they're nice and clear.
Good luck!

littlemisseatsherfeelings Wed 17-May-17 00:03:10

Thanks all

Well I'd hoped the calendar reminders for a weekly task (which provides numbers for a report that goes to customer HQ!) would make it hard to ignore the task but he's a special sort of stubborn.

I didn't know if that was the wrong approach (maybe reminder was patronising?) but asking personally on a weekly basis for the info hadn't worked previously... and you all seem to back up doing it in writing.

beingsunny Wed 17-May-17 00:09:23

Get HR involved,

Document each incident and start performance managing him.

He will either step up or step out.

You run the risk of him damaging your reputation so don't dilly dally about it

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