BLUF: I have a new pair of supervisors under me, essentially a new tier of management and a small clique of their directs (my former directs) are beating up on them.

I'll try to make this short. I was a supervisor, moved up to director and a new team of 2 supervisors was hired under me. The new supervisors are former peers to their new directs. I was doing the MT trinity with the people that are now my skips, so they are used to the MT way. Now I am training the new supervisors and working them into the trinity as the rollout suggests. They are doing O3s, and not ready to roll out feedback yet. When they do roll out the feedback it will be 6-8 weeks of positive before they do adjusting. There are some very bad rivalries developing between these 2 teams of my skips, that are geographically in different offices. One group is particularly troublesome and is essentially making life miserable for the supervisors, scowling in meetings, making decisions beyond their pay grade, misinforming new hires to increase their own status, etc. All this is too much drama, and I don't want to play into that either.

I have listened to the conflict casts, and I get the impression that I should leave this to the supervisors to deal with in their O3s, but it will be another 2 months before they can begin to give adjusting feedback, so how does this not escalate out of control before then? I really feel like I need to intervene, but then I am worried that this will further undercut the authority of these two new supervisors (who are going to be great, but they are new right now).

These problem employees say that they feel I have abandoned them because I no longer do their O3s, etc. It is a vacuum right now because of the transition.

Do I call them in and possibly reinforce their love for drama? Do I hurry up the schedule and have their new supervisors give them feedback? Any suggestions? And I knew that I couldn't make it short. Sorry!


US41's picture

Give your skips some phone calls or personal visits and give them some negative feedback if they are involved each of them one at a time. They are used to feedback from you, you are observing the consequences of their behavior, and you need to let them know that you see it and do not appreciate it. I do not believe you undermine managers who report to you by giving feedback to your skips about their performance for their new bosses.

Be careful how you have these feedback conversations. If you give an ear to a bunch of whining from the skips about how hard it all is and make sympathetic noises - you WILL be undermining your new managers. Give quick, clear feedback, and then disengage.

What your skips are doing is calling you out. They are daring you to break you relationships with them thinking you won't get in their faces because you are close. Unfortunately, your promotion plus their bad behavior means that it is time to pinch those relationships and remind them who the boss is.

*Ring ring*

"Hello, this is Joe."

"Hey Joe, this is Janet. May I give you some quick feedback?"

"Uh, yeah, sure."

"Joe, when you complain to your new boss that they aren't managing you right, I get the impression that you are more interested in tearing them down than in supporting me and helping me to build a team from my new position. I'm embarrassed and feel like I have to explain why my supposedly awesome employees are acting like monsters. What can you do differently."

"But Janet, Frank is an awful manager! He doesn't do anything the way you did it. I can't stand that guy. He's ruining everything."

"That's not helpful, Joe. What are you going to do differently to help me out?"

quiet pause


"Alright. Alright. Whatever."

"Joe, your boss's position is secure. You are harming your reputation, not his. What exactly are you saying you will do for me here?"

"I'll stop complaining."

"What can you do that is positive to help?"

"I'll lay off. OK. OK. I'll try to be more patient and help him out. "

"Thank you, Joe."


I guess you could do shot across the bow here, but when something like this is going on, I prefer to just call it out in their face and stand them down. Behaving poorly toward your new managers is adding stress when you already have plenty from the promotion. It is destructive to your reputation as a manager and to the team as a whole. I think it is more than just minor annoyance behavior and deserves a stronger statement than shot across the bow. You need to say "I see it, I don't like it, and I won't have it. Stop it." If feedback doesn't take, I'd probably reel them in and say exactly that.


430jan's picture

US 41,

Thank you for a very practical and livable approach. I really like the script you laid out and also the caution. This helps.

I also truly appreciate taking the time to give such a detailed post.