(I am a long-time MT member, but I have just joined using a different name because of the sensitive legal nature of this dilemma. I hope folks will respect my need for anonymity and be willing to help out.)
I have been offered a promotion that includes managing a key program as well the underperforming admin who is the program's only staff. I'm looking for some guidance/encouragement from MT.
I am currently a supervisor in a non-profit organization. "Jackie," the DR in question, has been our department's admin for nearly 10 years. Jackie has been seriously underperforming for that whole time.
I do not believe Jackie is capable of doing the job. She has received extensive training and coaching, special equipment, part-time staff, counseling, mediation, and probably more. Her technical skills, judgement, professionalism, and interpersonal skills are weak. (Yes I can back this all up with reference to her behaviours.)
Several previous managers have tried to improve her performance and failed. None of them were even close to being MT managers. Nothing even resembling O3s, feedback, coaching. Managers have made some counter-productive decisions such as allowing Jackie's position to be reclassified to a higher level in order to motivate her.
All of Jackie's managers have collected reams of "documentation" in attempts to get rid of her. One almost succeeded, but got some bad advice from HR, so Jackie won on a technicality (a form that hadn't been signed).
Jackie is extremely combative, and currently has grievances against her boss and her boss's boss. The union has made no inquiries with our department and is backing Jackie fully.
Not one member of the 20-person department supports Jackie continuing to work here. Through her incompetence, she has had a negative effect on every single person's work, as well as on the reputation of our department, the services we offer, and the health of her current manager.
Managing Jackie is everyone's idea of a nightmare around here. I am viewed as the person with the best management skills and the most backbone.
I am probably the person Jackie despises the most. I was one of two people who first realized her incompetence many years ago, because I worked more closely with her than other staff. I have been promoted several times and she has stated publicly that she thinks this is unfair. Jackie does not recognize her own poor performance, and really seems to believe that she is good at her job but has to deal with unreasonable workload and oppressive management.
My boss does not expect me to actually improve Jackie's performance, just to minimize the damage until she can be removed. I am also expected to continue the extremely time-consuming process of documenting everything Jackie does wrong. At the same time, my boss hopes that I'll be able to grow the program, improve its reputation, and leverage it for fundraising opportunities.
I intend to start O3s and feedback with Jackie as soon as I take over (in a couple of months). I don't think coaching is appropriate, as it wouldn't be done with the genuine belief that Jackie can (or wants to) improve.
I hate confrontation and haven't had to supervise anyone as combative as Jackie before. Virtually every time she receives an instruction from her current boss, she pushes back, asks a bunch of irrelevant questions, and writes to the union.
I'm scared to death, and losing sleep already.
Please share whatever advice you can.