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I understand it must be painful that she didn't get the job

(23 Posts)
PlanNumber Sat 10-Feb-18 11:20:52

I started a new job c. 9 months ago. I'm loving it and all the feedback is that I'm doing an excellent job, better than they hoped for.

The only issue is that there was an internal candidate who was obviously unsuccessful. It seems that beforehand, everyone thought the interviews were for show and it was a foregone conclusion that she would get it. I've even been told that he role was specifically designed to offer her a promotion (it is a new post). I don't know if that's completely true but it's certainly a widely held view among my new colleagues.

I haven't had any issues with the management or staff, even her allies have been very fair to me and understand (because of what's gone on since) that I'm the better person for the role. She has been pleasant to me on the face of it, but ignores any work related requests I make.

However, she still has a senior role which impacts a lot on my work. Really, I should be her line manager but my boss, who is the number 1 in the company, decided that because of the circumstances it would be better if she reported to No1 boss. Which was a kind thing to do for both of us, I think.

However, the unsuccessful candidate (X) is being thoroughly incompetent and boss is at a loss as to what to do. Boss has 150 staff and is generally a good leader but this situation seems to leave her completely stumped. I couldn't count the number of hours we've spent talking about what is to be done about X.

I've made very many suggestions in line with HR capability procedure but nothing has been taken forward. I think boss feels bad for handling the appointment badly and possibly for X leading to believe the job was hers. Also just as the interviews were going on X had a very serious health problem and for several months allowances were made due to that. She has now had a clean bill of health for several month and performance hasn't improved.

Meantime, most people in the organisation assume I am X's boss and look to me when things in her department aren't as they should be.

How would you handle this situation?

All three of us are senior management, it really shoudln't be this hard.

BWatchWatcher Sat 10-Feb-18 11:30:58

I feel for X as I'm hoping for a positive outcome from a job I'm applying for. I imagine she is feeling angry and bitter & is expressing this by being uncooperative and cutting her nose off to spite her face (as they say).
I would suggest the only thing that can done is for her manager to sit her down and talk to her and address the issue full on. Perhaps she can be moved sideways to another role which doesn't have the same backstory.

BloomersBerry Sat 10-Feb-18 11:39:17

This is an awful position for you to be in. A friend of mine was in X's position many years ago and admits she behaved quite badly: resentful & awkward towards the person who had got 'her' job. A senior manager stepped in and told my friend, quite bluntly, to get a grip and accept that the right person had got the post. My friend said it was what she needed to hear and made her realise that she was being a pain and making life difficult for everyone. She got her promotion eventually when she deserved it.
I hope your manager has the guts to be as blunt as my friend's.

Amatree Sat 10-Feb-18 11:42:33

This shouldn't be your problem-your boss needs to do his job and tackle her poor performance in the same way anyone else's would be.

LordEmsworth Sat 10-Feb-18 11:42:40

I have been in X's position and let me tell you, it is fucking shit.

It meant that I couldn't control my emotions, I could see that I was not behaving well but couldn't stop myself.

I handled it by sitting with the successful candidate and being very open with them. That helped but didn't fix it, it did mean though that i felt like i had a bit more control and could choose how to behave. I ended up getting a new job because it just made me feel like a useless failure.

In your position I would take them for a coffee, be empathetic and say you understand, but also that it's not acceptable behaviour and will hurt her, not you. And ask how you can both move forward. It's up to her whether she faces up to it or carries on as she is, all you can do is give her the opportunity.

PlanNumber Sat 10-Feb-18 11:53:40

I know, I do completely understand how hard it must before her. I also have complete sympathy for what she went through with her health. In discussions with the leadership team I am most likely to be the one who speaks up for her, explaining it must be really hard to regain focus after what she's been through.

The problem doesn't seem to be that she's behaving badly to me though. She's failing in every area of her work. The consensus among those who knew her "before" seems to be that she was never that competent but she has a very positive outward persona that pulled the wool over a lot of eyes. Her ill health absence brought a lot of things to light that people were previously unaware of.

So whilst I'm of the view that the job situation and the health problem must have contributed to this poor performance, the rest of the leadership team seem to think much of it is down to lack of ability.

BWatchWatcher Sat 10-Feb-18 13:32:24

If she was incompetent then why were they eying her up for promotion?
Do you have regular performance appraisals?

AnchorDownDeepBreath Sat 10-Feb-18 13:33:02

Hmm... I'd be suspicious of that; because I wouldn't have thought that they'd create a new job for her if she's generally incompetent.

It seems more likely that her confidence and belief in herself have been undermined; possibly quite severely if she really thought the job was hers and the process was a formality. Added to a health problem, perhaps she's just struggling to get started again. That's potentially why they don't want to start capability procedures...

Her boss needs to talk to her; and she'll perhaps require additional support. You need to be clear with people complaining to you that she doesn't report to you, in a friendly and professional way. Don't be any further involved. It all sounds rather toxic, to be honesty

mollifly Sat 10-Feb-18 13:40:06

I feel for X in this situation. I've been X and it is really hard. She's probably aware she's been awkward but feels like she's been let down. On top of this the more awkward she is the more she is probably aware that conversations are been had about her which makes her feel worse.

Try and be completely honest and open with her but at the same time don't expect it to get better. It might be that she just needs to look for another job but doesn't realise that yet. With all respect, she was probably hoping you would fail in the role and she would then get it.

Unfair of the organisation to allow her to think she would get the job if that's true.

Strongvegetables Sat 10-Feb-18 13:43:25

Tbh I’ve had this done to me. I completely demotivated me and I left in the end.

It’s not your fault but it’s not your job to fix it either. Leave it to the no.1

WeAllHaveWings Sat 10-Feb-18 16:20:39

Either your boss stops pussy footing around her, implying she has been badly treated and reorganises for her to report into you so you can bring her to task when she doesn't perform or respond to your requests.

Or, he deals with it directly, by telling her it been proven the correct person was given the job at the time and discusses her career aspirations and performance issues.

She isn't your real problem as that can be solved (one way or another), your boss is.

daisychain01 Sat 10-Feb-18 16:51:37

It seems inappropriate that you have been given all the ins and out of this situation. You shouldn't really be discussing X, their performance and whether they are incompetent, you aren't their line manager. I feel for X.

daisychain01 Sat 10-Feb-18 16:56:00

The problem doesn't seem to be that she's behaving badly to me though

OK so where exactly do you feature in Xs story? It's unclear what your problem is - or is it just to say how incompetent X is on here?

Muddlingalongalone Sat 10-Feb-18 17:01:32

I don't think you can solve this yourself, essentially only your boss can or x herself can by realising that behaviour is not productive and moving on.
I think you could however try to go out of your way to connect with her, seek out her input etc to try to reinforce that you are not the enemy etc, ask how you can support her through transition but point out that she still needs to perform. Ultimately it might not work and it will be a bit of a pita but might be worth a shot.
Not that you can do anything about it but do you think she would be behaving the same if you were a man?
I am currently sort of in x's position, job was re-written in a way that suited me better than a like for like replacement, although no suggestion I would get it at all, and it's incredibly frustrating. New person (internal but from different part of the group) is a great person and super enthusiastic etc but is driving me batshit. Of course he has to learn and doesn't have the background that I do but the micromanagement is toe curling.
Maybe you have conflicting styles of working as well which makes things difficult?

NewImprovedNinja Sat 10-Feb-18 17:48:03

It's for your boss to resolve by talking to X and then starting the capability process, if necessary.
I was in your position although in my case, X wrongly assumed that she'd be given the promotion automatically as she'd been in an acting HoD position for about a year.
Due to the significant changing nature of the work, X simply didn't have the right skill set to move forward and I did plus relevant experience.
X left a few months later and admitted to me privately that she wouldn't have been remotely interested in the revised role but she still made it awkward whenever the opportunity arose. hmm

BWatchWatcher Sat 10-Feb-18 17:51:42

I wonder if the Boss basically told her that the job was hers, she has now basically lost the trust of X and so can't even have constructive discussions with her.
Poor X sad

Beansprout30 Sat 10-Feb-18 22:24:41

I feel for X, I'm kinda in a similar situation and I feel like I've been shat on by my boss and the person who took my job (it was actually my job!) if I were you I wouldn't speak to X unless really necessary, in my position I get more angry when my colleague tried to play the nice one I find her irritating and patronising and almost rubbing my nose in it.

PlanNumber Sun 11-Feb-18 08:00:21

Daisy? I've said the fact that she's not doing her job impacts directly on me because if it weren't for this unfortunate situation I'd be her line manager. Most people assume I am and come to be about problems in her department, assuming that it's my responsibility to sort it out. Her work impacts more on me and my team than it does on anyone else in the organisation.

Boss says they didn't realise how many problems there were until she had the time off with her illness. Things came to light while she was off, as they often do and that was before I was appointed. She's a very confident assertive person, very good at telling people how good she is and they fell for it. Boss is very embarrassed about that and knows they had a lucky escape.

I don't think it is inappropriate that we've been discussing it. I'm part of the leadership (X sits just below it). It's the kind of thing that is always discussed at leadership meetings.

BWatchWatcher. I think that's exactly what happened. They were very close friends before all the trouble.Now X feels Boss behaved badly and boss has lost respect/trust for X.

I'd love to be able to just keep away and leave them to sort it out and that has been my approach up to now, but people are coming to me daily with issues in her department and looking to me to sort them out.

daisychain01 Sun 11-Feb-18 09:20:01

It seems the complication is unclear demarcation of responsibilities, with people coming to you with issues from Xs department. If those issues belong to X, why are you even taking on those issues?

Can you refer the person to X and say, in a helpful and neutral way, that's in Xs dept please can you work directly with X.

I know it's tempting to want to fix the problems, because you're the go-to person, but you could be perpetuating the problem by accepting the problems rather than steering them back to source and at least giving X some empowerment in taking responsibility for her work and staying out of it.

PlanNumber Sun 11-Feb-18 15:15:37

People come to me because I manage the whole, X manages a small section of it. They've usually tried repeatedly with X and have got to the point where it needs fixing and it needs fixing now or there will be wider implications than those in her department.

daisychain01 Sun 11-Feb-18 15:54:58

Fair enough - people aren't getting response from X, it seems like the motivation isn't there. If the impact of Xs inactivity is wider, then you do need to escalate it.

Try engaging with X in a non judgemental and factual way about the specific actions and deadlines that belong to her - that have landed on your desk. She has the choice whether to deal with the stuff or continue to ignore the requests.


Give specific information to the decision maker in the department above you and her, that you've tried to do Option 1, but people repeatedly keep coming to you, and the reason you're escalating the matter is that it is putting you in an awkward position and you are being asked to do 2 peoples jobs. Youre not out to make trouble but you need their advice about what should happen. Let them make the decision.

RedRobin87 Thu 15-Feb-18 09:19:47

I was in X's position a few years back. I was told the interviews were just for show, and the job was mine. It had apparently been created for me, everyone including the head of the department, the manager, etc all told me the job was mine.

I didn't get it. It went to someone who as it turns out, the manager knew and was quite friendly with.

I was absolutely gutted. I lost all trust and respect for the people who told me the job was mine. I was told I didn't do anything wrong, the interview went really well but this person had some really obscure skill that I didn't (a skill not even relevant to the job!). Had this person not of applied, the job would have been mine.... yay thanks.

I don't have much dealings with them these days but they do sit on the same floor as me. I still feel quite bitter towards them, more so because they made things so awkward in the team I was in as it was then seen to be that I wanted "out" and wasn't "committed" to them.

Ironically, the person who got the job hasn't lived up to the hype apparently. I did get asked to "assist" their team on a adhoc basis - I said no!

RedRobin87 Thu 15-Feb-18 09:26:48

Meant to add, she is probably feeling incredibly demotivated and in the mindset of "why bother".

Someone needs to sit down with her and talk.

I found taking on lots of extra tasks and responsibilities helped me remember I was still a vital part of a team and had a job to do and to do that job to the best of my abilities.

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