I have beem a manager for less than a year. I currently supervise 3 analysts in the IT field. When I first started I had weekly 1X1's with my direct reports. However one individual resisted them stating that I was 'overmanaging' him. I later found out that my director had been having discussions with this employee about a promotion which I was not aware of. The employee informed me during one of our sessions when I asked him how things are going that 'he got promoted'. I was angry mostly that my director failed to inform me of such a significant development. I also felt that the employee, knowing that our director used bad judegment, stated it that way just to get under my skin. From that point on I left the weekly meetings scheduled on our calendar's and left it up to him to attend. He never has. I have had many issues with my Bosses regarding getting regualr updates on the projects that he is working on. I feel that he only provides me with valid information if it benefits him rather than benefiting the whole team and the project at hand. I have tried treating him more like a peer which has improved our relationship somewhat.

How do you suggest dealing with someone who thinks they are above being managed?

Brent's picture

Hmmm. A difficult situation!

Could you provide a bit more information about the employee? You've described unproductive behavior from your director, but I only see two of the employee's behaviors described:

[*] The employee was initially resistant to One-on-Ones, because he believed he's been promoted. By the way, has he been promoted?
[*] You've left the One-on-One date open on your calendar, but he's never attended on his own. You suspect he sees no value in One-on-Ones.

I'm seeing little unreasonable behavior here, and I suspect there's much more to the story. Could you describe his unproductive behavior in more detail?[/list]

FR-NYC's picture

Here is more background: The employee and I were coworkers prior to my promotion to supervisor above him. Then he was promoted form Jr to Sr Analyst, by my director rather than me, yet he reports to me. Also the negotiations transpired without my knowledge. The issue is more that my promotion to supervisor means that he no longer reports to the director but rather to me. He does not like this and continues to communicate with the director on projects and career issues while I have to drag information out of him in order to get project updates. During the last few 1x1's he accused me of 'over managing' him when I felt I was only trying to do my job as his supervisor. Knowing that this is a common mistake for new managers I backed off leaving the responsibility to him to initiate the meetings. The only time since then when he has requested a meeting was when one of his projects was not going well and he was getting heat from upper management and needed career reassurance.

Do you think I am making too big of an issue of the fact that he generally does not want to meet regularly?

jpb's picture

It sounds to me like you would need to get the straight story from your director and explain how such a promotion would undermine your authority. I would also make sure everyone is clear on the chain of command.

Then I would sit down with your direct report and ask questions about how the two of you should work together. You wouldn't need to do what he wants but could you be missing something that could be improved by talking this out? I think it's best to address such issues head on.

When I was promoted I had a peer who then became a direct report. the transition was very difficult but we came to a very good understanding with one another.
Last month I had two more designers assigned to me and one of them is having issues reporting to me. I am basically going to sit down with her and talk about how we should work together. Maybe this will work for you but it sounds like you have bigger issues than I have.

good luck!

Mark's picture
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Thanks for the question. It's a good one... though sadly not that unusual.

I'm impressed that you asked, and I get the sense that you know what the right thing to do is, but are worried about your boss (as most people would be.)

So, well done you. I'll sound very direct below not to lecture, but just to cut through everything.

First off, it sounds like he DID get under your skin when he said he got promoted. Let that go. He acted like a 12 year old... and then you rewarded him. So, he's a 12 year old. You're his boss, despite what he thinks.

This seems related to how stupidly your boss promoted him. Okay, your boss made a mistake, I agree. VERY clumsy. Let that go. No sense in taking out your frustration about your boss's political clumsiness on the subordinate.

It would be okay to share with your boss that the way it was handled wasn't helpful, but I wouldn't push that unless I was certain that your boss would see your point. I am guessing he wouldn't, so I would leave that be as well. Most bosses just don't learn that well from subordinates.

Now to the heart of the issue. I would manage him the way I do all my other directs. I would expect him to attend one on ones, accept feedback that is delivered ethically and professionally and with love in your heart (without malice). I would be kind to him until well after it hurt me to do so because it's just the right thing to do. If I felt he was harboring a grudge, I'd ask about it. If he didn't want to talk, I'd ask less but probably never let it go. I'd not let his issues with his lack of power interfere with my management of him. I'd give him adjusting and affirming feedback unrelated to his issues with me or his relationship with my boss. I would document like crazy.

Again - I would expect him to attend one on ones. I would give him feedback when he didn't, again and again if necessary, until I had to give him systemic feedback about not listening and not following through on commitments to change his unprofessional behavior of missing scheduled meetings.

I wouldn't worry about him going to my boss, because there's no need to worry: HE IS GOING TO RUN TO YOUR BOSS. Why worry? it's like a rocking chair - it gives you something to do, but it doesn't get your anywhere. Document what he does and doesn't do. Document your feedback and conversations. Give him his quarterly reviews, and if there is room to show him that his working relationship with you is hurting his rating, show him how it is.

Because apparently he is better at whatever than the other guys who work for you, there's nothing wrong with praising his work more. You can tell him how good he is, and do so in front of others. Sounds like he would like that, since power ans status are important to him.

When your boss calls you in, show him what you've done. Tell him you do one on ones with all your folks, so you can keep yourself and HIM up to date. It also improves communication on all of this person's projects. A half hour meeting once a week is NOT over-managing.

Sure, you made the problem worse when you let him off the hook. (If you could hear all of my management mistakes!) Okay, so let that go and re-engage. If he thinks you're admitting you were wrong, FINE... I'm willing to admit I was wrong all day long if I'm now on the right path. If you believe one on ones are the right path, say, "Hey, I've thought about it, and we're going to re-engage on one on ones. I think they're a good idea, and I want you there. I was wrong to let them fall by the wayside."

Call his bluff. Yes, your boss is involved. But do you believe in one on ones? If not, why put your other team members through them?

This may cause more questions... fire away.


jpb's picture

it would be really hard for me to hold off from talking to my boss about this. I would want to address the communication issue between us and how to improve things. After reading Mark's post I can see how that could be bad, possibly putting me on the defensive.
I guess I'm a little insecure about that, something for me to work on.

Mark's picture
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Good insight. Here's the thing: always put EFFECTIVENESS first. If talking to your boss would even have a whiff of complaining, it's not going to be effective in the long run. Yes, there's the upside, of getting clarity... but no one else is ever going to know whether you walked away because you're nervous, or because you were smart enough to know you didn't need to fight this battle.

Also, I've found that people's opinions about talking to their boss are primarily driven by their relationship now with their boss. So if you had one take and I had another, that wouldn't concern me.

Unless... the boss continues to cross the line, and in this case he did with too little communication. You'll note, though, that he did NOT cross the line by promoting the guy. Any boss anywhere up the chain CAN do that. It's not the best way, it's not the smart way... but that's not what you're fighting for (because if he's clumsy enough to do it, he can't hear that he was wrong). The ISSUE is the lack of communication.

If he continues to cross the line, you'll have more data for the discussion.


jpb's picture

luckily I have a pretty good relationship with my boss. our communication is robust so when there is an issue (and there have been) we talk it out. I feel like it improves our effectiveness as a team.

If and when I change companies I hope I can develop another strong relationship with my boss but I'm not sure how I made this one work.

As far as my reluctant direct goes, I have one that does not want to report to me. She goes to my boss all the time for projects and to complain about me. I'm working through one on ones and project reviews to improve our communication. My boss wants to fire her but I have made her my new 'project' by giving her some feedback and more high profile projects to improve her 'brand'.
It's tough putting in such effort and being bad mouthed at the same time!

FR-NYC's picture

Just thought I let you all know that I have resumed weekly one on ones with the reluctant staff member. I am trying to relate to him more as a peer than a subordinate and that seems to be working. He seems to be respecting me more as his supervisor and I think more open with communicating about his projects etc. As for my boss, I had a discussion with him way back when the promotion debacle happened and he admitted that he was wrong not to have told me but didn't offer a reason why. At this point I'ts fortunately not a pattern ( that I know of) so I'm moving on.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

Sounds good... keep us posted!