BLUF: my direct takes instructions literally, then get defensive and cites what I told her when I ask her to think with judgement about the goals of the task
Not so BLUF: Her previous job was for a manager that was alternatively micro-managing and absent. She had a huge daily tasks list that got done everyday. I hired her for a similar TITLE here, but did not realize that she seems incapable of thinking through problems and learning new systems. She is great when she has a million things to do and all of them are checkbox lists with clear instructions. Unfortunately we really don't work that way here, and I'm so introverted I couldn't manage any more hands-on than I am already.
We are not a super-structured place. People have to dive in and learn our internal management software, and get a handle for what we do through curiosity and experimenting within reason. I didn't realize she would have a very hard time with this.
My main problem is definitely behavioral - if I give her an instruction verbally or in email, she will follow it to the letter without any deviation, creativity, or thinking about what is actually supposed to be accomplished. Small example (not exact): "Here is a list of product names that are duplicated in the database. They actually are different items, so they need to have different names. Having duplicate names creates database issues, so I need duplicates edited to remove the occurence of duplication to 0."
The result? A list of product names with extra random characters added to the end just to pass the benchmark of "no duplicates allowed".
So when I ask how she might have done it differently to make the products friendly to customers, she will shrug her shoulders and say that she did what I asked. Yes, she did.
Now that I'm thinking about all of this..... don't worry if you don't have advice for me. Just writing these posts out just helps in ways that is pretty useful, regardless. She needs late stage coaching and either a demotion or a bye-bye. I hate to do it because I hired her to be groomed into a high-level position (and gave her an optimistic salary to go with it) so it is MY failure to identify the weaknesses early.
If anyone has personal experience to share (rather than what I need to do), that would be awesome, as well. Being an MT veteran I pretty much know what needs doing, but sometimes it has to be typed out "in public", you know? :-)