One of my team leads refused to own the fixing of a problem.  I made sure that I did not phrase it as a question.  In addition, I emphasized the priority and urgency of the issue that needed to be fixed.  Can someone please provide some advice as to what I should do?

He was concerned that his existing task would be delayed.  I told him that I would be responsible for the political consequences of him being delayed on his deliverable.  In addition, I gave him a resource to do the actual work.  I explained that I was not asking or negotiating with him and I really needed someone with his expertise to lead the fix.

Most people would be honored to be be given an opportunity that shows visibility.  I asked him specifically if he was going to do what I asked him to do or not.  He said that he will not do it. 

I have not given him feedback using the MT model yet.  I did explain why I was asking him to do what I asked him to do and explained the consequences of not fixing the problem.

The thing that worries me more is that one of my mid-level engineers was involved in the conversation.  He's very prone to suggestion and I'm worried that he will pick up insubordination habits from my team lead.

I re-listened to "My Direct Disagrees With Me Privately" again to make sure I am not missing anything.

I just don't get this.  I have had people disagree with me technically.  However, I have never seen anybody flat out say no to a manager.  He's one of my best engineers and I need to figure out how to proceed without him leaving.


firebelly's picture

Check out this forum topic that's similar:

Your employee stated that he's concerned that the present task he's doing will be delayed and that's why he said "No." Two thoughts:

1) telling employees that they should set aside what they've been doing and do something else runs the risk of conveying the message that the effort that they've been putting into the original assignment is not valued. Telling him that you will take the political consequences of delay may not have assuaged his concerns around it, in which case, it may be worth having a conversation in which you try to understand and provide comfort mor thoroughly. 

2) My son who is in sales taught me that the first reason people give for saying "no" isn't their real reason. So it may be worth digging a little deeper. Your employee says he's worried about the original task getting delayed - what else is he worried about? Do you ask him to set things aside a lot and he's frustrated by that? Does he think that you asking him to set this particular task aside is a bad idea for some reason? 

3) If, in the end, you find that he was simply insubordinate, it's time to work with HR in developing a performance plan for him.