My direct report was passed over for the job I eventually got and ever since then has been trying to undermine my credibility.

Recently, we had a meeting with my bosses and they know he wanted the position. However, I am tasked with turning him around.

Anybody have any suggestions?

ashdenver's picture

The only thing I would suggest is work on a coaching and development plan with the person, get their buy-in, make it your mission in life to get this person prepared and staged in such a way that the next manager role they apply for will be theirs for the taking.

You might also be able to work it in that you've got your eye on a bigger gig and you would like to see this person groomed & ready to take over the department when you move on & up. (But that may be a bit premature at this point, depending on the working relationship you have with the person.)

I recently got a group of folks where half the team has been in the company nearly as long as I've been alive! In our kick-off meeting, I gave a bullet-point list of the four positions I'd been in at this company in my five years here and I said outright that I felt like my movement was pretty quick and that it was my goal to share tips and techniques that worked well for me with them so that they too could get to where they want to be.

I was lucky enough that the one person who wanted the job I got is on my counterpart's team AND that she was selected for a promotion to a lesser position in the interim. The folks on my team, though, seem to be responding well to my earnest efforts to get them positioned in such a way that a promotion is all but inevitable. (Keep in mind that I've only been in the role for like a month so take my advice for what it's worth to ya! LOL)

jhack's picture

You need to have a good professional relationship. This is developed, over time, through one on ones.

Read this fable:

This thread touches on a similar situation:

While not quite germaine, this thread has some really good ideas you might find useful:

Final thought: why does he need to be "turned around?" Is there a performance shortfall? Is he sulking and complaining about not getting the job? Has his behavior changed since not getting the promotion? We can provide better guidance if we know what he's doing that you are concerned about.

John Hack

HMac's picture

Recently, we had a meeting with my bosses and they know he wanted the position. However, I am tasked with turning him around.

The "turning him around" part - is that something the bosses have described to you in behavioral terms? And could it be inferred that these reasons contributed to why he didn't get the job?

And - just for grins - do you agree with their assessment about what needs to be "turned around"?

My advice: get very specific behavioral information before you do anything. Otherwise it could be a fool's errand.


KS180's picture

The DR has requested to forgo the O3's due to the stressful relationship we have and it was granted by my boss.

Turning him around = make him like me and respect me as the leader. But that is my assumption. I can tell you he does not like me and misinterprets almost everything I do and say. I think that is because of his lack of experience in management. For instance: He was put in charge of going out and getting pricing for a new cell phone contract - which he did. A decision was made by the Executive Team for vendor A. In the meantime vendor B kept calling him to get an answer but he wouldn't return the call so they called me. I told them they need to talk to him. Vendor B said they were to bring phones in and switch everything over. Told them again to talk to the DR. He interpreted this as being dishonest because I wouldn't tell the vendor they didn't get the contract. I told him since it was his project he was to deliver the bad news. Also, vendor B was never told they had the contract and to bring phones in. This is a ploy I have seen used before to get you so committed that you just go with them.

Was I wrong? If so, I will apologize.

You're right I need to get very specific behavior that I can point to and see if I suceed.

jhack's picture

If your boss has told you not to do O3's, then you're being told NOT to do the one thing that is most effective in building a good relationship. How can you turn him around if you can't spend time with him? Perhaps the problem isn't your peer.

"Recently, we had a meeting with my bosses"... How many do you have?

"He interpreted this as being dishonest" - did he call you dishonest? And have his job responsibilities been clearly defined for him? Vendor selection is not necessarily a "management" job - there are many purchasing agents who don't manage people. Does he have folks working for him? Or is "management" in his title only?

I'm not being facetious...I suspect that this situation is not about whether he likes or respects you. This is about whether you are being allowed to BE a manager at all: you should decide if you meet with him, and you should decide if he needs to be fired. If your "bosses" are going to micromanage your management of him, this isn't about him at all.

John Hack

RobRedmond's picture

Again: What the heck is it with the boss's ordering no O3's?!? Are they insane? "No you may not have a casual conversation with your employees for a half our each during the week to ask after them and find out how their work is going?" What in the world are they thinking?

Maybe do the O3's and call it something else - phase them in extra slowly. Instead, just do drive by meetings with him, and start off slow - 5 minutes you ask questions that prod him to answer you. 5 minutes you kind of update him, and walk off. Then keep doing it and stretching it out. Finally ask if he would mind doing 15 minutes next week and stopping by to update you. Then you might spend your time giving positive feedback on anything you can think of. "Hey, when you come to work on time every day, that's awesome. Thanks."

He might start getting addicted to his weekly praisings and compliments. Then eventually ask if he minds turning it into a 30 minute long meeting.

This will be very, very SLOW, (so slow I feel dust gathering even as I write all of this), but you could probably eventually start turning things around like this. It will require discipline on your part, and dedication to the plan.

-Rob Redmond

madmatt's picture

I agree that is is best to explore what you can do to develop your professional relationship with the direct.

You might take a look at what you can do as his manager to help make his job easier. For example, when a vendor calls you because he's been ignoring them sigh deeply to yourself and do the dirty work of telling them they didn't get the contract.

But don't just roll over. You'll lose respect.

Then, go back to your direct and give him the constructive feedback that you had to do his dirty work for him and that you expect him to do it no matter how uncomfortable it may be. Tell him you won't do it again and if you have to keep doing his work for him tell the direct you are getting calls because he can't take care of his responsibilities.

Okay, then after you both cool down for a few hours go back and tell if that you know it's tough stuff to do and that you appreciate him taking care of it. The wait is crucial to separate the bad moment from the good so that they each have effect and don't muddle up each other.

Oh, and follow Bob Redmond's advice below. Excellent shaping example.

KS180's picture

I report to the CFO who reports the Exec. VP, then the CEO. My DR has two people that report to him. This is a small organization of less than 100 employees. Our structure is very hierarchical when it is convenient.

One of the tasks I have been given is to clearly define his role so we don't step on each others toes.