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Is this odd behaviour?

(14 Posts)
Spidergirl8 Thu 13-Nov-14 19:51:58

I manage a member of staff who is deputy to me. There have been ongoing issues, we've had meetings etc where they normally get defensive and passive aggressive, but I am giving feedback.
Anyway, after a rather emotional meeting (them not me) last week, I suggested all this rather tense and defensive behaviour stop and that we should communicate when there is a perceived problem. They agreed. This week I've been trying to be as upbeat as possible.
We had a departmental consultation meeting to attend and another team member was to come too. When time came to go, this staff member said they'd be at meeting shortly, despite my suggesting we all go together. Then when they finally arrived, didn't talk to me once, sat a separate table etc.
Today just two of us were to go to a meeting. On walk to office they walked about 1 metre ahead, on way they turned and asked if I had a problem. Initially I said no, but then asked if they could slow down as I couldn't keep up. This was met with a frosty response.
I am just finding this all so annoying. When I try to pull them up and say that I don't feel they are working collaboratively, they deny this and say don't know what I mean. When I ask for completion dates on work (after waiting for prolonged periods) they get defensive and say I'm checking up on them. When they make errors/don't complete work requests (frequently), they get upset say they can never do anything right and I'm always at them. They also try to blame team if things aren't done. I give solid work examples to illustrate my reasoning and they always give an excuse or blame it on my perception. When I ask them for examples, they have none or get defensive.
I've kept a note if issues, meetings we've had etc, but they have networked with some key people and I think they are putting me down a lot behind my back.
Anyone any suggestions on any further strategies I could employ to make things less complicated?

maggiethemagpie Sun 16-Nov-14 19:55:02

There's a performance problem, you've identified it and your employee is clearly very upset about it. Not willing to acknowledge responsibility - easier to just say are picking on them, get defensive, hit back at you. Then the problem is no longer about them, but you.

It's a difficult one. I think you have to accept that you and she will no longer be the best of friends, at least whilst this is going on, but you need to be firm and manage the performance issue (which can include an attitude issue)

Good luck

Optimist1 Sun 16-Nov-14 20:28:45

The onus is on you to get this sorted, because your deputy's performance is part of your responsibility. I suggest you schedule a one-to-one meeting with her/him and say that since things between you have gone awry you want to make adjustments so that the two of you work better together. You could invite her/him to think about what would make their working role easier, and promise to consider these suggestions.

When you have the meeting, let her/him have an outpouring without taking issue with what she/he says. Once it's all out, you can reiterate that since his/her job description includes supporting you in your role and yours includes running your department you should both be working in unison towards the same goal (efficiently run department). Her/his skills should be acknowledged but minimal reference to obstructive behaviour and so on. Make this a plan for the future, not a post mortem of the past. There will almost certainly be points raised that you can accommodate in your future plans, but your senior role requires you to be in overall control.

If she/he will adopt the "we're a formidable team when we're working together approach" you've managed the situation well. If she/he can't do this, then it may be time for you to look for a deputy who understands the role better. (I've been in both situations, BTW.)

FunkyBoldRibena Mon 17-Nov-14 07:38:45

How long have they been employed at the company?

Did you inherit them or recruit them?

Spidergirl8 Mon 17-Nov-14 19:39:10

Thank you for posts. I had meeting last week where I suggested we work better at communicating and try to build on our professional relationship. The difficult thing is, that unless I agree with them on everything and never point out any areas that need attention/correction, they seem to become moody and feel persecuted. Today they barely spoke to me, I have no idea what it was about.
The difficult dynamic is that they covered my post for 5 months when I was on a secondment and they are now on a temp mat cover for my deputy (who is unlikely to come back). The team were close to walking out when I returned, however I smoothed that over and assured them I would manage things. That has worked fine but this person is now trying to play good cop with me as bad cop, however most can see through it.

Optimist1 Mon 17-Nov-14 21:32:52

Hmm, sounds as though she/he is deliberately making life difficult for you. Is there anyone else from your team who would step up and work well with you? If so, I'd propose to senior management that the existing deputy is moved elsewhere in the organisation so that you can create a united and effective team. (I'm thinking that this could be under the guise of the deputy position being "unfilled", and the team member you choose being designated your "assistant" or something other than deputy. Then, if the colleague on maternity leave doesn't return, the assistant could be properly promoted to deputy. By which time the thorn in your side will have become someone else's problem!)

If senior management are of the view that you've just got to get on with the personnel you've got, then you'll need to get tough. No discussions about how to tackle issues, just instructions of what you need done and refusal to accept sub-standard work or attitude. But take the greatest care not to put yourself in a position where you can falsely be accused of bullying.

Spidergirl8 Mon 17-Nov-14 21:50:04

Thanks Optimist. That's sound advice and kind of what I'm doing at the moment. I've stopped giving feedback, just sticking to the facts. However, this had led to being accused of trying to performance manage them without telling them, which I have explained isn't possible as performance management is an official procedure, not underhand etc.
In addition they have also tried to suggest that I am making them unwell. When I asked for specifics, they didn't have any sound examples. I told them that their wellbeing etc is important, but I can't help feeling that this is a ruse to try and protect themselves if their role ends so they can suggest constructive dismissal. In addition I have been very accommodating to them, allowing extended leave periods, giving time to attend gym, allowing to accrue time for non work related matters, leaving early etc.
Last week I probed some work they had done which didn't seem right to me, I uncovered a large mistake which involved them changing policy which has impacted on our systems and an external client. They really fought against accepting responsibility, including sending an email trail to the external cleint asking them confirm and reconfirm the facts. I have asked them to rectify the problem which they have responded to in a very churlish and dismissive way. They still seem to blame the client, despite the fact that I have written evidence that they prompted the change (when I was on annual leave without any consultation!). However I am not budging, they will need to sort this, or it is quite clearly in capability.

FunkyBoldRibena Mon 17-Nov-14 22:54:04

So, how long have they worked there?

Tweet2tweet Tue 18-Nov-14 06:35:39

just under 2 yrs, in a variety of roles

FunkyBoldRibena Tue 18-Nov-14 06:48:11

Are you the OP, as i cant see that in their posts?

If under two years, let them go. Really, it will only end in a grievance from them of you bullying them. That is what this is leading to. People should be able to get on with their job without having to tread on eggshells.

Optimist1 Tue 18-Nov-14 08:52:09

This resonates so much with a situation I found myself in a few years ago that I'm not sure I can separate your predicament from my own! This person won't change tactics and your team's morale could be eroding as they (the team) see this individual pushing the boundaries. Your energies and goodwill need to be focussed elsewhere now (IMO).

If the "under 2 yrs" information did come from you, OP, do what Funky says!

Bowchickawowow Wed 19-Nov-14 07:06:38

I have just spent a few days on acas training around this sort of issue for managers. As long as you can shown that you have followed policy, and can evidence meeting etc bullying is very unlikely to hold water. She said 70% of the bullying issues Acas deal with are not bullying - they are people being managed.

FunkyBoldRibena Wed 19-Nov-14 07:16:10

Yes exactly! Which is why the OP needs to get rid, before the two years is up.

Spidergirl8 Wed 19-Nov-14 19:30:44

Thanks everyone. I think some dramatic moves are about to happen on this. I gave been logging meetings, which denies and/or disputes what was discussed. However along the way I've emailed updates to my LM and follow some things up by email,etc, probably not as much as I should but enough hopefully.
Anyway after a particularly bad experience this week I've taken consultation from senior management to progress a resolution to the issues. Not going to be easy, but enough is enough!

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