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Submitted by superjac on


I am a fairly new manager here, 6 months. I have the unlucky position of being hired to manage a team where the previous manager was demoted. I now manager him with his previous directs. Bare with. We only have 10 employees. There was no where to transfer him.

He has been something of a nightmare to work with:

  • disappears from the office right before our 1:1 each week.
  • Misses all his deadlines when *I* assign them
  • And once screamed at me and told me he didn't respect me because I wasn't technically skilled. That's true. He is a seismic processor. I am many things, but none of them have anything to do with seismic.

In our last 1:1 he asked me for a raise. That same week in a staff meeting when asked to follow up on a sales request, he told me that was a stupid idea.  So the owner told me he wouldn't be getting a raise until he started showing some respect towards management. Over the weekend I reviewed the feedback podcasts so I could start there. I just started 1:1 in November so I hadn't added feedback in just yet.

In today's staff meeting I shared some new directions from the owner. Right there in the meeting he tells me he won't do it for various reasons. I told him this was the directive. I would look into his concerns, but he still had expectations. He didn't drop it, so I tried to punt the topic. I said it was appropriate the debate the issue right there in the meeting. He stood up, left, came back 10 minutes later. He popped his head in the door and said he resigned.

Of course our owner is right now on a plane for a ski vacation with his wife. I'm at a loss. What should I do here? The employee gave me a formal letter after the meeting. What is the normal plan in these events? I am equally relieved and anxious.

jhack's picture

So what are you worried about?  Let the owner enjoy his ski trip.  Make sure you turn off this guy's access to any systems, email, etc.  

Thank him for service to the company, express regret over his resignation, and make sure you hold onto that letter.  Let him know that he does not need to come back into the office.  

Have HR start processing his paperwork right away. 

Is there an unspoken concern here?  

John Hack

peterddw's picture

I doubt very much that the owner will be upset by this guy's departure. This is a blessing as his behavior is toxic to the rest of the team's morale. Aside from the items John has mentioned I would next concern myself with contingencies. Unless you already have all the information required, I suggest meeting with all of those who interacted with this fellow to figure out what expertise you need to recoup. It would be good to figure out if he was a single source for any technical expertise that you will now have to seek outside. ie are there others in house that have the seismic expertise he held?

Another consideration is whether or not the loss of his man hours needs to be replaced. If so you could be proactive and start the search process or run the advertisements etc so that when the boss returns you already have some candidates to screen and present.


430jan's picture

I guess I don't get it. He was demoted, so someone was unhappy with his performance before you got there. You treated him with respect, let him know the plan, and he decided he wouldn't play. He is gone and you are one very lucky individual. You may get more insight on the long term benefit in the recent podcast about handling a top producer that is destructive to the team.

It's never comfortable, but you will have to handle people leaving under much less happy circumstances. You're fine.


Darrell's picture
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From the situation you described, having a signed resignation letter saves you:

1. The cost of a severance.
2.  Any legal hassles from a constructive dismissal lawsuit
3.  A dysfunctional, toxic team environment
4.  Months of suffering through a non-productive period until you can fire him & replace him.

Two actions I recommend:

1.  Get him out of the building, and keep him out (inform security).

2.  Inform the owner as best you can (e-mail or message at resort).  It might make their day.

Asking for a raise after a demotion.  That's gutsy. 
Disagreeing publicly with owner's directives.  Even more so.

Clearly, he was seeking to make waves.  Perhaps he was instigating trouble to trigger a firing/severance discussion.  Its tough to say as an outsider, or even as his boss.  His motivation is moot point.  Say Goodbye.

scm2423's picture
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I hate to say it but while having someone leave, weather on good terms or bad it is always an opportunity.  Is this a change to re-org some existing jobs, a chance to move someone junior up to a bigger role, or a chance to find someone with skills you team is weak on. 

It sounds like you have gotten rid of a problem employee.  It might cause you and your team some extra work for the short term but it is an opportunity too.


mdave's picture

The best way for an employee to move on is for them to make the decision themselves! Depending on how much latitude you have reagrding hiring, start mvoing forward to act or to have a good plan of action for approval by your boss!!

wdywft's picture

Hey superjac,

I'm glad I'm not in your shoes right now. I agree with everyone's comments - it'll turn out to be a blessing in the long run - but must admit your situation kind of sucks at the moment. On the bright side, it'll be over soon...