For the last few months, I have been part of a management transition and my unit has a new boss. The 'managing your boss' podcasts were super and really helped me get off to a good start since I had not experienced this as a manager. The boss is a nice guy, has good ideas, and has been very supportive of me.
There is, however, a catch. My boss has a direct that was hired by the previous manager a few weeks before he was re-assigned. This direct's job frequently has him playing a key role in projects and programs that I am responsible for. I realized from the start that my relationship with this person is very key for my division's success. The performance of this direct has been subpar since he joined the unit. Since most of his work has been on projects that are my responsibility, I have had to do a lot of damage control -- which he has not exactly appreciated.
During the first month or two with the new boss, I briefed him on my concerns regarding this employee's performance as it applied to my areas of responsibility and what I saw as the risks. We also agreed on what my role was in terms of providing feedback and direction to this employee and when the boss wanted to be involved.
One thing I noticed with the boss -- call it an unstated goal -- is that it is very important to him that people get along. Extremely important. It's been a couple months past our discussion regarding my concerns and the employee has made another set of very gross errors. In order to maintain the credibility of my division (and myself, and to avoid my boss being in an embarrassing situation), I again engaged in damage control. I have a future project coming up where the stakes are a bit higher and I don't want a repeat event -- and perpetual damage control is taking up too much of my time. It should be noted that the direct has not shown much improvement and can't understand what the problem is (besides me) since they believe they were a model employee in their old unit.
I need to meet with my boss again, but am feeling a bit cautious. Normally when I have a problem I at least have a couple of options for solutions. In this case, the reasonable options all point to how I think my boss should be supervising this person -- probably not a good idea. I'm getting down to three options -- none of which I like. Keep playing damage control, stop playing damage control in which case it would be really evident to the boss how serious this could be when the fallout starts (note: this is a non-starter for me. I just can't ethically get there. Also, one of the places the boss acknowledges that I have exceptional value to him is in my ability to catch potential problems before they happen), or start looking for a new place to work. Given the breadth of work the employee does for the unit, simply transferring him to my staff is not a very likely alternative.
I hate to be a taker on my first real post, and would appreciate any thoughts you folks may have. I’ve been really impressed with the caliber of contributors to these forums and don't recall seeing a question like this. Thanks.