I have moved up in my organization in the past year, and now manage the person who manages my previous directs.  This direct is a great performer, and always has been.  Recently a situation came up at work where we needed to work closely with another department to troubleshoot an issue.  During the meeting I agreed to send out a summary of the troubleshooting.  After a meeting my old direct approached me refusing to do specific actions in the troubleshooting and demanded that I ensure that the other tasks were assigned to the other department.

The tasks she refused to do up front would have been very reasonable to expect someone to do in my department or the other department- it could be a grey area.

At the time I said it really wasn't something unreasonable.  She said stated what tasks she was willing to do up front and that she would not do anything but that work and re-demanded that I assign those tasks to the other department.

I really do not think her demand is reasonable.  The other department does not think it is their responsability to do those tasks either and now I feel like I am in a sticky and irritating situation.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


scm2423's picture

My response to this direct would be that you have listened to their concerns and disagree with them t and do not see the request as being unreasonable.  At this point, the tasks should need to be completed as documented and failure to do so would be insubordinate. 

I would follow-up with feedback about directs making demands and remind them that their role in the organization is to assist you in meeting the goals/objectives of the organization/department.  While they may not always agree with these goals/objectives or how they will be accomplished it is the expectation that they complete tasks/assignments as laid out.  Tell them you are open to discussion on how to proceed differently if they believe there is a better way but ultimately the decision on this belongs with management.  There are only a few circumstances where a worker has a right to refuse work: is it unsafe, illegal or against the corporate values.  If there is a grey area around this they should have a conversation with you or their manager rather than outright refuse or making other demands.


mrreliable's picture

Just to clarify, you mentioned "the person who manages my previous directs." Then you referred to "my previous direct." Is this the same person?

If so, I agree with scm2423. If a direct refuses to do specific actions and makes demands of you, then issues you a directive to assign the tasks to a different department, they're demonstrating that they believe they have authority over you and it's their job to give you instructions. This person could be getting their feet under them as a new manager, or it could be a resistance to your authority. It doesn't matter. It sounds to me like they have a very wrong view of the situation. If they don't get a right view of the circumstances, you're going to see this behavior consistently.

I'm not saying to be heavy handed, but you should be consistent and firm. You're relatively new to this position. I know I'd act assertively (and have) if a direct appointed themselves to some kind of position of authority. I'd suggest meeting with the direct and telling them, "You need to do this, this, and this." Then give feedback asking for a commitment to approach any future disagreements in the context of opening a discussion rather than issuing directives.