I'm in a medium-sized slightly struggling financial institution. I've got a pb with a guy (reports to one of my peers) who is consistently rude and offensive to just about anyone. This defeats just about every attempt at teamworking. Several people have reported it to HR and many have made formal complaints to his manager, who protects him because of results - he's a smart kid, who's more effective than many of his peers.

The senior's reluctance to deal with it is dragging us all down...are we boxed in by our weak business situation which sets the dept. mood? How can I articulate to management the idea that we'll only improve if we get this obstacle to teamwork fixed?

I love this forum and would really value your thoughts...thanks.

rwwh's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

The obvious answer is [i]feedback[/i]. Feedback is given on behavior. "rude" and "offensive" are not behaviors, but conclusions.

You should start listening (again?) to the podcasts on feedback. Your peer should listen to those podcasts. And if he really does not want to deal with the issue, then you should listen to the podcast on peer feedback....

trandell's picture

This is a particularly tough situation because you have a peer you don't directly influence and the peer's manager who does not want to influence.

What happened with the complaints to HR? When it gets that far, I'd expect something to happen.

Have you tried giving feedback to this person? Have you tried having your boss speak with the other boss?

adamwhite's picture

Thanks for the interest - both those answers are right on the money.

Yup, you're right - feedback - first thing I tried. His manager is a high D, so I tried the 'here's what happens...people tend to withhold favours, wheels don't get greased, your team miss their schedules...' I've tried it a few times but we both know that despite these problems, the guy still hits more targets than peers who are polite, so the manager's attitude is 'ok, sorry about it, now let's get on with work'.

HR complaints went through the motions to no tangible effect. Bottom line was that the complianants were both known 'complainers' so the effect was somewhat diluted. Not a good situation, but that's my reality.

I've spoken with my (our) boss about it. He agrees with me but is beholden to my peer who has significant network power - he has to keep him 'on-side'.

I'm pretty sure I'm not so insecure as to be jealous of my peer (far from it) but I just know we could all achieve more if this junior guy wasn't sucking the motivation out of everyone. I don't want to give up on this organisation - opposite: I'm a new-ish manager and I see this as exactly the kind of challenge I need right now.

Thanks again.

rwwh's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

[quote="adamwhite"]His manager is a high D, so I tried the 'here's what happens...people tend to withhold favours, wheels don't get greased, your team miss their schedules...'[/quote]

"team misses schedules" contains quite a bit of S, and "withold favors" is more S too.... For a high-D, how about "others in your team are demotivated, and with only one performer YOU don't make your targets"?

bflynn's picture

The manager is High-D? Focus on results, not process. Focus on the self, not the group. Self means the manager.

When you (describe rude behaviors) during your work, you are breaking down future bridges. You may get results today, but you are cutting our own throat in the future. Word is getting around that you are unpleasant to work with and in the future, you will not be able to deliver the results because no one will be willing to go the extra mile for you.

I believe this should get most Ds sitting up to listen. It has to be personal and painful for them. There might be a better way or better things to focus on. This is an example. Be direct, the manager will appreciate it. If you're not a high-D, it may feel brutal to you.


colleen's picture

I agree with "rwwh". You need to isolate the behavior and the feeback needs to be timely (immediate). In your conversations with the other manager start with the [u]one [/u]most damaging behavior that you want modified (be very, very specific. Not, for example, "he's rude and obnoxious".) If he behaves in an inappropriate manner at your meeting, you have every right to give him direct feedback and not have him attend your meetings if he cannot contribute professionally (be genuine, not vindictive).

Regardless, I think you need to tell your team members that the best way to shut him up is to outperform him. Don't let them use his behavior as an excuse for underperforming or becoming de-motivated.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

Let's be clear that there are two possible feedbacks here.

One is to the perpetrator. When you say blank, make that face, interrupt, etc., what happens is I go talk to your boss about your lack of worthiness for raises and promotions, and your boss hears a lot of these, and he begins to get the same picture.

One is to the boss. When you don't do anything about the behaviors you're aware of or made aware of, we lose respect for you, and we start losing interest in collaborating with you, and certainly with your direct. It's going to start affecting his ability to get work done when he has to rely on others on my team.

That said, THERE IS NOT A LOT YOU CAN DO. In the same way that you might protect one of yours, you can't force anything.

Do your best to avoid working with him, help your team minimize his impact on them, and certainly correct him with feedback when YOU work with him.

And if you're getting angry about it, he's poking you with an umbrella, but you're getting angry all by yourself.


adamwhite's picture

Well this is pretty consistent...I guess feedback feedback feedback! This is all great - and I WILL go back and try these things again. It just feels like I am banging my head against a brick wall here because the guy and his manager usually just say 'so what' in response to feedback suggested here, knowing that the guy who sets their bonuses ultimately doesn't care who they offend. Perhaps this is just something I need to accept!

Thanks for the help guys.

sklosky's picture


One common theme I've picked up from Manager Tools (and Drucker) is too focus on your strengths. Try not manage by exception and focus on negatives.

It sounds like this guy is burning your energy and resources disproportionally to the amount he's contributing to your team.

Time spent trying to change him is wasted. You're better off spending time improving your network and improving your team's performance. If this means "blocking" this guy or "marginalizing" him, make it so, and enjoy the fact that your role is to insulate your team from him.

To some extent, the game is afoot and your team has an advantage over the other team because they tolerate this distructive player.

So my take on your situation is to focus on your strengths, not this guy's weaknesses. Something like this -- ". . . grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference."

Just my 2 cents worth.