How to deal with deputy the team don't like?(25 Posts)
I manage a team, and have recently appointed a new deputy as I am now involved in more project work and so have a lot of time away rom main team / office. The team are having real issues with new deputy. They come to me upset that deputy is abrasive, micromanages them and is quite confrontational and abrupt. I think there are elements of a (work place) culture clash as deputy is new to the organisation. How should I handle this? No one wants to make anything formal, but how do I sensitively handle this? I worry I could be liable for constructive dismissal if I know of the problems, but haven't dealt with them and team members leave.
To be honest, I do have concerns that the behaviour could be boardering on bullying, but I'm just not around enough to witness it myself.
Where do I start?
Go to HR and ask them to deal with it. It's possible to raise concerns on behalf of your staff so that things can be dealt with without a formal complaint. It might be that he's feeling intimidated by how well everyone's established. I wold get him some management training so that he knows how to manage people in a constructive positive way.
If you have to deal with it yourself, approach it in a constructive trying to build bridges way. It sounds like he is missing basic respect for his workers.
I know you've employed the deputy to lighten your load but how much time have you spent training them, including teaching them about the company culture etc? I think you need to book a block of time in the office to observe first hand what's going on.
I am on the receiving end of a deputy who is bullying in this way. You are their manager, you need to manage, it is your responsibility to sort it out promptly before you start losing members of the team. Nothing to do with HR in my opinion, although they can offer guidance on company policy on managing poor performance.
Be direct and honest with the deputy. Make it clear what it is they are doing wrong, with examples. Set clear objectives on what they need to do differently and your expectectations. Give a timeframe when you will review. Provide weekly reviews, additional training and shadowing of someone who manages appropriately. Be prepared to move them somewhere else or get rid if behaviours don't improve.
Make sure the team are aware that you are not tolerating this behaviour and that they can talk to you about any specific issues.
Toxic working environments are bad for any organisation.
You need to manage the deputy and make sure they are not pissing the staff off. Is s/he trained in any supervisory or management practices at all?
That's a really good point re: training - thanks. They were kind of parachuted in by my manager as I was whisked off to projects - no excuse though. It has however been about 8 months.... I guess I could raise it in a review / catch up meeting (or is that not good practice? Ie - get a separate meeting lined up to deal with this issue, not wait for appraisal).
Tandem - what could HR do if no one wants to make anything formal? Would this cause trouble/ a difficult working environment as it will be obvious that the staff have made (informal) complaints?
If this has been going on for 8 months you need to get on top of it now! Does the deputy have a job description? Have you set objectives and done an appraisal? How often do you have review meetings? The buck stops with you in this one, you can't leave it to HR to sort out.
8 months - no wonder your staff are pissed off, that's not a new member of staff. You sound more concerned about people doing you for constructive dismissal than improving the situation for your staff.
8 months is a long time for this to have been going on - I would have though best practice would have been for a catch up meeting after a month or so.
Yes, if you are their line manager, I think you do need to have a meeting - doesn't need to be confrontational, but starting in a 'How do you think it's going?' way. Anything you are finding quite difficult? Anything I should have given you more help with when you started? Make it clear you want to support, not criticise. You can then say that some team members have mentioned x, y, or z, and have a chat about the culture, the way you found things worked best, etc.,etc. whilst keeping them on side rather than being too critical.
I meant they've been with us for 8months (that is 'new' in our organisation!!), but it's only v recently (last couple of weeks) been brought to my attention.
Appreciate how I came across in OP - but my genuine concern is loss of staff over this and that their raising it means it must be affecting them. My concern is for the team members that have worked together so harmoniously until now.
Well listen to them - let them see you are taking it seriously- then do something about it. It really is
fucking shite horrible to be bullied at work, and its far worse when management know its going on and do nothing about it.
What SilverBirch said.
However, you don't need to worry about constructive dismissal, employment rights do not kick in until after 2 years service.
Mind you, it does sound like they're on a hiding to nothing if they've had no training or induction.
It is appropriate to bring it up with them in a review - but if one isn't scheduled then you need to raise it now. It's important that this person is given the chance to get it right. But, if ultimately they're just not right for the job, then dismiss. There will be no repercussions in terms of tribunals etc because they don't have 2 years service.
I presume you are the line manager for your deputy? If so it is your job to tackle this now, not wait for a review.
Were you directly managing these staff before the deputy came along or were they left to themselves?
I think you need to make it crystal clear to him /her what the problem is and how it can be resolved.
HR departments wouldn't normally get involved in managing staff, which is what this is.
Was the new deputy on probation? Did you really not spot any of these issues during that time? How was the 'on boarding' of the deputy handled? What feedback have you had from him/her about how he/she was settling in?
My rule is that nothing should come as a surprise (other than perhaps praise) in an appraisal. Any performance concern needs to be raised as soon as it's identified.
It's possible the deputy is micromanaging because they don't know what's expected of them.
I've been on the receiving end of this kind of behaviour recently, particularly the micromanaging. I spoke to the Head of our department about how awful it was making me feel and he dealt with it the same day.
This too needs dealing with rightaway, and definitely not in an appraisal when there should be no surprises. Our Head suggested a great way to approach these kind of things...
What the issue is, including some examples
How it made the person on the receiving end feel
What could be done differently in the future.
Really simple but effective.
"Go to HR and ask them to deal with it"
That's the fastest way to destroy any authority and credibility the OP has. HR can advise managers on managing this type of situation, not do it for them.
OP you need to equip yourself with plenty of information about exactly what this deputy is doing "wrong" in the eyes of staff, including specific examples, your own observations and using your knowledge of the staff involved, then work out a plan for addressing concerns and improving working relationships.
OP - have you just disappeared ?
I think maybe that's why you are having these problems.
No - sorry, not disappeared, just struggling with teething baby! I'm taking all this advice on board - thanks so much. Going to start to tackle it tomorrow.
So basically, I can start having conversations with deputy despite no one wanting to make anything formal. Can't / won't just ignore. Even if it is just a personality clash, as flowery says, we can work on relationship building.
Good - I'm sorry I have been harsh - but I've left 2 jobs due to bullying, at both places it was acknowledged by senior management that my line managers were bullies - but they wouldn't do anything about it. And Good luck with the teething baby - oh how I remember that
Right so it sounds like your concern is whether you can raise informal feedback or whether the deputy could also start to claim bullying or something if you give feedback that you can't evidence. I think you need to (a) look at your company complaints procedure and (b) talk to HR to make sure you don't lead the company on to dodgy ground. But on the face of it this person's probation has already been mishandled so this may not actually make things that much worse.
Ideally however you would raise your own observations with this person. Have you genuinely not seen him/her interacting with your old team? Can you engineer a reason to do so in order to have first hand experience of the issues?
It seems reasonable to me that if a person needs to complain about their manager they go to their manager's manager, but it's messy if none of them are prepared to do so even informally.
My best friend made a informal complaint to HR about a similar manager. It was dealt with sensitively and the manager is now receiving more training about managing people.
This sounds more like a playground than a workplace.
Flowery has, as ever, gone to the issue. There is an equal possibility that you have been away from the office so much that your team have become accustomed to doing what they want and now resent actually being managed and required to perform.
I once took over a team like that and it was hell for all of us.
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