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Submitted by tberge on


I need help with how to work on my relationship/communication with my direct and would like feedback on my proposed approach, which is this:

"Direct, Am calling to follow up to our discussion yesterday and your subsequent e-mail. Based on the fact that you used email to communicate your discomfort , coupled with copying HR, combined with your tendency not bring updates or be forthcoming with information at our regular meetings, really speaks to a communication breakdown that needs to be remedied.  As your supervisor, I am your rep and advocate to the rest of the company and I am only effective in this if we have effective communication, so I want to work on this with you.

Are you available on Monday to discuss further?"

Here is the e-mail that was sent just minutes after our last discussion:

"Boss,  Thank you for notifying me that you would like to be informed before I not bill to vacation when I worked over my regular hours for the week. I will notify you before I make the decision to not bill to “vacation” time vs using billable hours. However, I would appreciate it that in the future that discussions that are personal to me be handled in a more private setting. It find it very uncomfortable and inappropriate."

The discussion happened in the cubicle area with no nearby employees.  Immediate issues are:

  • coming to O3 with no updates
  • not keeping me informed on projects, etc. - I feel like I'm on a need to know basis
  • defensiveness when approached on issues like schedule or timecard
  • immediately sending an e-mail after our last conversation andy copying HR

The background is this:

  • person was brought over through an aquisition >2 years ago
  • her peers and managers have since left
  • have had some performance issues, which have been coached
  • recently survivied a layoff, and seems to acknoeldge that
  • is a part-time exempt employee
  • is argumentative with me from day 1


mfculbert's picture

 You have a big challenge here. How long has this person been your direct? Did you have input as to whether this individual survived the recent layoffs? What does this employee want from the job? What motivates this employee? How many one-on-ones have you had with this direct? Has HR approached you about this employee's CCed emails? As you get back to us with a few generic thoughts.

You are right to focus on communication and relationship. Once that gets put in place the rest of the issues can be cleaned up over time. It may be that there is a lack of agreement as to the scope of your responsibility and your direct's responsibility.  All of your direct's responsibilities are included in your responsibilities although that fact may never  have occurred to previous managers.

Finally everyone should have open lines of communication to HR any time they want. It is important that you also know what HR is thinking regarding those contacts. You may want to talk to HR as to whether are any bigger issues you need to be aware of.  If HR says "This person has always spammed us about trivial topics. We ignore them." then you have no worries.

Let us know a bit more please.