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being undermined at work

(12 Posts)
cantstandthenoise Sat 17-Sep-11 19:55:24

put this in employment issues but think it may not be seen so much there...

long story - basically I have been undermined by a colleague at work for years. We used to work in a small team and I was his line manager then, he always undermined me and it was exhausting - I don't think I ever dealt with it properly as I should have done something about it then but it was difficult as I was part time and I just looked forward to when we would be in a bigger team and I wouldn't have to manage him anymore.

1 year later we are in the bigger team, I am no longer his manager but a few grades higher than him and along with 4 other colleagues have to allocate work to him and the rest of the 15 or so others in the team and oversee it. It seems like he is still trying to catch me out and show me up though I am perfectly well able to do my job - in fact have been doing this kind of work for around 15 years and have an MA in it and he is relatively new to it.

An example was this week, I had to allocate around 100 pieces of work that came in via a shared email account. An email came it that I gave to a colleague but either I made a very minor mistake and gave it to him too or it came in twice and someone else allocated it to him the following day. It was a very small mistake as he would have realised immediately that someone else had done it. However, he sent and email asking me to be 'tighter in the way I allocate work in the future' and sent to the whole team and also critised the way it had been done by the other colleague. I felt this was very rude and shouldn't have been sent to everyone in any case.

I have asked to see my manager about this. It seems so petty but I feel he is deliberately trying to show me up for a very minor mistake (that I may not have even made), when it was not his place to do so. I would understand if it was my boss who said that but I would never say to my boss 'can you be tighter in the way you allocate work in the future'.

what should I do???

chris123456 Sat 17-Sep-11 20:05:36

I think you should ask him to attend a one to one with you and ask him direct if he has a problem, as your antennae detect that something is not quite right. As the senior team member you feel very strongly that he should have the opportunity of getting whatever it is off his chest and then you can all move on.

beatenbyayellowteacup Sat 17-Sep-11 20:07:09

Is there any way you go speak to him directly and very firmly, but matter of factly, say that you understand that he had an issue with the double-allocation.

Explain that if there is something (negative) he felt that needed to be addressed, it is more professional to do it face to face and next time you'd appreciate this manner of working. Because that if he did, you could explain to him that it was a small human error, somewhere along the chain, and you could help ensure that everything was ok in his workworld <nice, caring colleague emoticon>

Make it clear by your tone (firm, friendly but fuckoff) that you are not going to take any piece of shit from him.

beatenbyayellowteacup Sat 17-Sep-11 20:07:51

chris is nicer than me blush

wicketkeeper Sat 17-Sep-11 20:10:44

Two options -
1) you don't have to explain yourself to him, so simply ignore it. The other people in the team will quickly realise that he is a silly person
2) tell him what you've said here - it is not his place to pull you up on any mistakes, minor or otherwise. Visualise how your boss might say it to you if you'd had the temerity to send an e-mail like this. Then say it to him in the same way.

cantstandthenoise Sat 17-Sep-11 20:12:08

yes you are all correct but I don't have the guts, he intimidates me - he will look for a way to trip me up and it is too late as I cc'd my boss into my reply.

chris123456 Sat 17-Sep-11 20:12:25

No I'm not!!

beatenbyayellowteacup Sat 17-Sep-11 20:15:10

too late for this time but he will try it again.

work bullying is one of the most horrible things i have ever endured. you really need to make it clear that you won't take it - firmly and politely and professionally. who cares if he doesn't like you or tries to make you feel stupid. you have a valid point. he is behaving like a twunt. and you have work professional practice guidelines to support you.

cantstandthenoise Sat 17-Sep-11 20:15:13

I am hoping that my boss will see me and then tell him not to speak to me like that but I am not banking on it!

chris123456 Sat 17-Sep-11 20:16:29

Yes you can - practise on a friend and you can put this to bed permanently

buzzskillington Sat 17-Sep-11 20:44:18

Do you think it might be because you're a woman and he's a sexist twat?

Perhaps some advice I've pinched from another thread might be useful:
Can you find a couple of stock phrases to use when he starts up? E.g. 'Let's discuss that afterwards', 'That's an interesting point but what I want to achieve right now is...' etc.

And just rinse, repeat.

puzzlesum Sat 17-Sep-11 20:51:58

Your seniority does seem to be based on having some management responsibility for the people on his grade (as opposed to, say, a more specialist role) and as such you need to be seen to be senior and lead by example. By all means I think bringing it to your boss' attention is good, but in the context of 'I intend to have a quiet word with him about this issue, I assume you will back me up' rather than hoping your boss will have a word with him for you. That option may undermine your authority.

You aren't his line manager now, is that your boss' responsibility or someone else's? It would certainly be a courtesy to discuss with the line manager first, and if this was an issue with a member of my staff I would want to be there during a discussion.

If he intimidates you then by all means don't see him alone, but don't let someone else resolve this issue for you. He needs to see you can handle yourself and tackle problems head on; unfortunately you are now realising what happens when management problems aren't addressed at the time - I can perfectly understand why you didn't at the time (and god knows, I see absolutely horrendous practice at all levels of my own organisation because people don't want to be the 'bad guy' - even at director level). But you are senior and his attitude is simply not acceptable. End of.

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