Hi all,


In the past 6 months, I moved to a public sector position as an IT supervisor of a team of five.  YES, I know what you are thinking, unions, uggh! :)

That aside, I think I am getting through that.  The issue I am having is breaking through to this one direct.  He's a really smart guy but from what I have been told, he applied for my job but did not get it.

We've had some difficult moments with him atempting to bypass me or my decisions or the reporting of issues to myself and instead going above me.  It's a work in progress.

My latest tactic, after trying many others was to invite him out to lunch, on me, to see how we can communicate away from the day to day environment.  It's been about three week since I put the preverbial "olive branch" out to him.  I have followed up with him about the lunch date but I feel he's avoiding me and this offer.

I personally think he's afraid the he may actually like me as a person, not as his manager and his wall or resistance might fall.

Can any of you provide some insight on other ways I can reach out to him to show him I am not his enemy and I am truly on his side?

We are starting one on one meetings in the next week so this may also be an oportunity fto try and break through to him


T.I.A for all input!!

mattpalmer's picture

I think you're coming on a little too strong.  With people, slow is fast.  Lunch invitations, while a great way to build a relationship, are a big step.  "Building a relationship" doesn't mean "become besties".  People don't have to commit to changing their behaviour with pinkie swears.

Start with the one-on-ones.  Have plenty of questions available to keep the conversation flowing, because you'll probably have to carry the conversation somewhat in the early days until your direct warms up a little.  Be genuinely interested in what he has to say, ask followup questions, hell, do a bit of research on something that he's interested in so you can contribute to the conversation.  There is a story in at least one MT podcast about someone who wanted to build a relationship with their boss, and their boss was a mad keen baseball fan.  So, even though they personally had no interest in baseball, they learnt all about it and talked baseball with the boss.  One relationship, in the bag.


maura's picture
Training Badge

Have you listened to these casts lately? 

How to manage a disgruntled non-promoted direct, parts 1-3 (quite possibly the silver bullet you are looking for!)

How to manage an arrogant producer


Doris_O's picture

In some circles, lunch with the new boss is a really an interview for the job you already have and puts you at risk of losing it. At the very least it's a required awkward social obligation with someone who has role power over you. Probably best to just "forget" you asked him.

I'm with Matt, start with the one-on-ones, so that you can begin developing a relationship with him. The rest will come in time.

In addition to the podcasts Maura suggested, I also highly recommend the Trinity Rollout emails. Reading them makes my day, every single morning.

Hang in there.


nappy_d's picture

Thanks for all your input.

The suggestion to ask him out to lunch was that of the IT director as we've have a few sit downs due to the direct disregarding of my decisions and some insubordination issues.

I have given up on the whole lunch thing.

The podcasts recommended above were spot on.

There are a number of behavioural issues, from an employment perspective that I am attempting to address and yes it will take some time such as the idea the chain of command(IMO). There has been a shake up management wide and many on my staff were allowed to "do as they saw fit" and not enough of a team mentality.

I am sure this will all come around over time.

mattpalmer's picture

The thing you've got to keep telling yourself (if you're like me, anyway, and want everything to happen NOW NOW NOW) is that people don't change quickly.  I like the mental image of creating an espalier.  You can't achieve it by just grabbing big branches and tying them to a wire -- they'll break, or the wire will break, or you just can't pull hard enough... it's a mess.  On the other hand, if you have patience, stick with the basics (disciplined pruning, tying, and rubbing unnecessary buds) you can end up with some amazing and spectacular results.

Taking over an existing, poorly performing team is like trying to espalier an established, overgrown monster of a tree.  You've got to think carefully about what you're going to do (the first 90 days of not changing anything and carefully observing the dynamics), and then take a series of actions -- some small and subtle, some large and bold, but all in service of a final achievement which you can visualise in the large form, but which may be as infinitely varied and unique in the details as the combination of personalities that are your people can possibly be.