OK, similar problem to one listed by drhowell1. I am a young, new manager managing a number of employees that are my seniors, and were also my peers prior to my promotion. One of these employees is resistant to change (there has been no manager for several months). I am in the process of implementing 1:1's, and I have started a bi-weekly Sales Meeting; he doesn't like either one of these changes and has been throwing the term "micromangaged" around the office to other co-workers. No problem, I can get past this one instance with time.

However, the problem continues... this week, he has been sending me emails about perceived "errors" on my part, and copying my boss on the emails. (I'm not concerned about his perceived errors-- they're unfounded.) I responded back to his emails correcting his misunderstanding, copying my boss on the reply. In addition, I had also asked this employee to identify a time to meet to discuss a project we are working on, and I proposed a time for the meeting. He declined the time, even though we had it tentatively planned for a week, and said that he would just have to get with me later. I instructed him to be more specific and to identify I time that would work within the next two days for our meeting.

A lot of specifics I's my question...this employee obviously has a deeper issue than the "errors" he is construing and the calendar conflicts. Do I give him feedback on his behaviours? If so, what behaviours would you frame your feedback around?

bflynn's picture

[quote="maestro"]A lot of specifics I's my question...this employee obviously has a deeper issue than the "errors" he is construing and the calendar conflicts. Do I give him feedback on his behaviours? If so, what behaviours would you frame your feedback around?[/quote]

I'm reading that this case is different. Is there something deeper - yes. He has decided that you are unworthy to be his boss and he is taking action to get your fired. If he doesn't like your leadership, his choices are to follow you, exit the organization or wait you out. He doesn't get to do a hatchet job on you.

Presuming he is being a little effective, there are three things I would change -

1) During O3s with the other workers, ask how they view things - not specifically related to this person. If the rest of the team see that you're doing an OK job, then they'll see the sniping and griping for what it is. It will lose power. That both protects your and may help convince him that he doesn't have a case.

2) YES feedback. This guy is actively attempting to get you removed. You need to let him know that you understand what he is doing and it is unprofessional. If he has time to be doing this, he isn't doing what he should be focused on (his job). You are not here to have problems. This person is a problem. By no means am I recommending getting rid of him immediately, but I would move immediately to tell him that his behavior isn't acceptable. As I imagine the situation, I would be moving to levels 2 and 3 of feedback much more quickly (in 1-2 weeks if the behavior doesn't change) with this person because what he is doing goes beyond harming you - it harms your organization and your company. It cannot be allowed.

3) NO to getting your boss involved. You don't need to CC him on the responding emails. This is your problem and you need to handle it. Let your boss know what is going on in a very brief way and that you're working the problem. Then when he gets emails pointing out your mistakes, they're petty things.

Don't ever lose faith in your ability - your boss choose you to lead this team. He saw something in you.


TimBryce's picture

Maestro -

Sounds like he is managing you as opposed to the other way

Anytime you start seeing memos being bandied about with
CC's, it means someone is building a case. In this instance, you
are being setup.

As we get older we tend to get set in our ways; we also tend
to eye younger people more suspiciously/jealously in terms of
their credibility and authority. Sounds like this is the case you
are faced with.

Time to have a meeting at YOUR convenience, not his, and make
sure he understands who the boss is. If this sounds like Theory X,
it is. This is a perfect example for the use of Theory X management,
for if this goes unchecked others will surely follow suit. And the last
thing you need is to lose the respect of the staff. I'm not saying you
have to be mean and nasty, but it is time for you to exercise your authority.

Hope this helps.

All the Best,

Peter.westley's picture


Sounds like there's an awful lot of email going about and not much face to face discussion. You cannot communicate and therefore resolve issues like this via email.

By responding to his email you are playing his game on his terms.

Ignore his emails and go give him some feedback, face to face.

And keep doing it, consistently.

Good luck.

maestro's picture

Thanks to all for the tips. Tim, you are alluding to Theory X management...can you elaborate or point me in the direction to learn about what you are referring to?

Also, let me tell you how this has played-out so far. The day after my last post, I had a manager in another area of the company "unload" on me about my problem employee (employee has to work with this manager on a daily basis-- although he doesn't answer to her). I felt the complaints came at a good time. I researched and documented all the problems I had been made aware of, called the employee and set-up a meeting for first thing the next morning.

At the meeting, I treated him fine-- as though nothing had happened with the copying of my boss on the email exchange. However, I made it a point for the next hour to give him solid feedback about all the issues I had been made aware of. In concluding the meeting, I mentioned that I knew he had been making negative comments about my management style, and that he should ultimately bear in mind that any change I was making was with the intent of bolstering his production-- not hindering it. I then went on as though it was over.

He acted a little strangely for a few days afterward, but he seems to have changed for the better. (Either that or he is interviewing elsewhere! ;-) In either case, I feel that it was effective.

I'm still very new at this, so please let me hear your comments/feedback. Do you think I handled it right?

MattJBeckwith's picture

Maestro, I echo Brian, Tim and Peter: it was time to have a meeting on your timeline, not his. Starting out as a new manager with "senior" people on your team can be intimidating, but giving feedback is what makes a manager a manager! It sounds like you absolutely did the right thing. The important thing now is to not back down from giving him feedback and to treat him with the respect he should give you. Over time, he may come around.

itilimp's picture

Maestro, Tim is referring to one of the management theories. This one is Douglas McGregor's Factor X/T theory and it's based on the idea that behind every managerial decision or action; there are assumptions about human nature and/or behaviour. He goes on to talk about:
- Theory X managers (tendency to wards micro-management and incentive schemes as they assume people are lazy and irresponsible)
- Theory Y managers (see work as satisfying of itself and tend towards delegation, empowerment, and participation)

You can read more about it on one of my favourite sites: [url=]Mind Tools[/url].

TimBryce's picture

You can find an explanation of Theories X, Y, Z at:

Hope this helps.

All the Best,

itilimp's picture

Interesting article, I've not come across 'Z' theory before. I think there is a lot of truth in your description of management as a benevolent dictatorship. Regardless of how participatory your style, it still comes down to the manager choosing that is how they will manage and their direct reports going along with that (or not).