I have just recieved word that a problem employee from another group is being placed in my group and will be my direct. Within a week I will officially be the new manager. I am reaching out to the former manager, 2nd level manager, peers, directs, and HR for feedback that will help me integrate the employee into our group. 

An upper managerment decision was made to remove the employee from their current organization because of HR complaints the employee filed against the former manager. Also, because the employee was detrimental to their team.  The HR complaints are believed to be because the employee has been demanding a promotion for years.

Our group had no need for a new resource.  Also, the skill set of the employee and our group's function are completely out of synch.  This is tough to say the least. I hate to say it, but the employee could have been sent here to fail.  Even worse, one of the employee's main issues was the fact they felt deserving of a promotion. Now, they are in a situation where a promotion will probably be even farther away for them.

I currently have no idea what I will ask them to do, and neither does the employee. 

Any advice appreciated.  Thank you.


Fitch's picture

I came back from leave to find that a problem employee had been assigned to 'help' me.


Their skill set was wrong, I knew their attitude was wrong, and I effectively knew (from talking to my boss) that she was on a final warning before formal performance management took over. i.e. as in your case - being set up to fail.


What did I do?  Treated her fairly, gave her every opportunity to succeed, basically i ignored the fact she'd been sent to fail.


And how did she do?  Not bad, but not great. She stayed in her job after I left the company and last I heard she was happy.


My message.  Give them a chance.  If they squander it, well, that's their fault.

US41's picture

I have performed this role before. It is no different than any other management you do using Manager Tools. It's the same for everyone: goals, measurements, report back, evaluate, rinse, wash, repeat as necessary.

1. Set them annual goals right away - some of the goals should center around them learning things they need to know. 

2. Meet with them in O3's weekly

3. Every 3rd O3 is a year-to-date performance review against all objectives with a final evaluation rendered as if it is the end of the year. The employee tracks, the employee presents, the boss challenges and questions. Where there is a lack of accomplishment, ask "Where is your plan to get some accomplishment going there?".  At the end of the monthly performance review, I like to do a quick hot wash of what went well and what needs a plan around it.

4. Be demanding

5. Make them a success


To do this, you are going to need everything in the basics podcasts:

You are also doing to need anything and everything to do with performance management.


Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

You're getting great guidance here.  My thoughts:

1.  Forget WHY they're with you.  It won't help, and everybody deserves a shot.  If you give them a shot, you're less likely to be muddied in the end.  If you don't, you'll get some blame.

2. MANAGE THEM.  Do as Rob says.  Find something effective for them to do.  NOT what they want to do, but rather what the organization most NEEDS them to do.  (Surprised that you don't need already be not lean enough, which is never good.)  [Although if what they want is what you have, LUCKY! ;-) ]  Work for them to succeed, and tell them when they do or don't.

3. Stay frosty when they complain.  They're likely to do so, and your best defense is engaging in the right behaviors (Trinity) plus being sweet as pie when they complain.  Complaints are not a time to feel obligated to act.  Complaints are a time for negative feedback.

4.. If you do 1, 2 and 3 correctly, you can be at peace no matter what happens.

This is one of the small beauties of Manager Tools' ideas.



douglase's picture

Last year, I had a guy transferred into my unit and he was considered "dead weight".  His previous manager was very gleeful in telling me so, and that they had done a deal to flick pass him to my unit.

I took the time to build a relationship with one on ones with this guy, found out his skills, and worked out what my team needed that he could bring to the party.  He became very quickly a valuable contributing team member.

It's worth investing the time.

When I left the role as his manager, I honestly told him (this was not the first bit of positive feedback) that I really appreciated the work he did, and the value he added to my team, he turned to me and shook my hand and said that this was the first time in his whole career anybody had done or said that.  He is in his early 40s. 


stephenbooth_uk's picture

The first red flag that springs to mind is, if this guy is so terrible then why hasn't he been sacked yet?  If the complaints to HR were unfounded then that's often a gross misconduct which, in the UK at least, is one of the few things you can still sack people pretty much on the spot for.  You say that the complaints are believed to be due to the employee not getting the promotions he wanted, is there any evidence?  If there is, maybe that evidence also shows that the complaints were justified?  I've known someone in what could be a similar situation (actually I represented him in my role as union shop steward), once the facts were collated it became very obvious that it was a case of  racial discrimination.

My feeling is that the past is passed, you've got a new employee starting with you to build a relationship with, give feedback to and coach.  The only real reference to the past need be to make sure that your new direct knows that the clock is set back to zero and the slate is blank (assuming you're prepared to go this route) and it's what they do from today that dictates their success or failure. 


hyubdoo23's picture



"Complaints are a time for negative feedback."

Could you say more on this, please?


Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

This is an insightful question - glad you asked.  I can see some head scratching!

IN THIS situation, where you know there is a history of complaining, the behavior of complaining is one of this direct's problem areas.  While it's certainly reasonable to allow some carping at times, some grumbling, this case is different.

So, after a good faith effort to engage in all the right management behaviors, complaints are worthy of feedback.  Now, it's important to note that when I say complaints, I do mean comments that are negative, not made constructively, without recommendations for change, and/or done with tone of condescension, frustration, disrespect to others, or delivered to those who can do nothing about it and with no clear intent to be a force for positive change.

If he starts doing it again, that's, as I say, worthy of some feedback.  Keep in mind that feedback is no big deal.  It's a pinch and not a crunch.  He might complain ten times, and each time we give polite, friendly, non-confrontational feedback.

If we're doing what's reasonable and professional, and he's still complaining, we have an obligation to address his behavior with him.



passisgreen's picture

Hi All-

I appreciate all of your input and support.  Some great ideas and guidance here.   I have CAK'ed it (CTRL+ALT+K) in Outlook for 1 year from now, and I intend to share a success story with this group. 

Keep the ideas coming; I'm open to them all.  Thank you.

passisgreen's picture

correction... of course, it is CTRL+SHIFT+K.  CTRL+ALT+K does nothing. They should change it :)  CAK'ed sounds cooler.

passisgreen's picture

Hello - Update as promised. The employee has provided value during the past year and remains on my team.  I have been congratulated for having turned this situation into lemonade. The employee's baggage and tendencies have not been an issue at this point. The extensive interviews that I conducted with every direct, supervisor, and peer of the employee had helped a great deal. They helped me understand what areas to manage in particular.

tlhausmann's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

Nice work. Well done.


tenacious_bc's picture

I think it's awesome that you were able to turn this situation around. Great job!

carguin's picture


Thanks for taking time to follow up; that sort of feedback is what helps us all.


Chris Arguin