Who’s the Boss?

I know an employee of a large financial institution that likes to meet with her manager in order to discuss her team member’s work behavior. (She basically throws them under the bus) This employee will casually mention that a team member is coming in to work a few minutes late or they haven’t completed an assignment they agreed to help her on. This employee really wants to be in charge and feels it is her duty and responsibility to be the ‘boss’ of the department.

At their one on one meetings the manager will often say to these other employee’s things such as, “I’m not concerned about it, however, be aware others are watching and noticing what you do while at the office.” Wait a minute – if it’s not an issue then managers should not bring it up. This kind of behavior undermines a manager’s authority and relationship with the employee sitting in front of you.

More disturbing than the manager bringing up behaviors she has not witnessed is the individual that feels she needs to stir the pot to get recognition and be viewed as a ‘trusted employee’ to her manager. This employee is over confident in her abilities and her manager has not done anything to shut the behavior down. Who’s the boss in this situation?

Employees like this one can be toxic, bossy or just plain difficult. As a manager, what’s your best course of action?

Meet with the employee
Manager’s need to figure out why the employee is exhibiting the behavior. Why do they feel the need to stir the pot to try to get their colleagues in trouble? Dig deeper and ask questions. The above-mentioned employee, had taken a TriMetrixHD assessment so we knew what their top motivators and driving forces are. We found that one of her top drivers is Commanding. The Commanding driving force means the individual is seeking status, recognition and wants control over personal freedom. We have found that many leaders have Commanding as one of their top four drivers. (Driving Forces explained) So now you have a piece of the puzzle for why the employee is causing havoc in the department. SHE wants to be the manager!

Give direct feedback – During your conversation with the toxic individual you’ll gather lots of data. It’s imperative as their manager that you not sugar coat feedback. Explain to them their behavior is unacceptable and you won’t tolerate it continuing. If you think the individual can eventually be a manager, don’t promise anything but let them know you’ll help them map a career plan and process to move up.

Document, document, document – You want to stop the unsavory behavior. The only way to do it is to document your conversations with the person; the steps you took to address the behavior, the information, any supporting materials, formal complaints or performance reviews. Anything that supports the behavior you have witnessed.

What else can you do? You can try to separate the toxic person from other team members. You can provide them with an outside counselor to help them with personal issues or you can fire them. Be aware some people just aren’t going to change. They love drama and will continue to stir the pot. If this is the case, then move them on out. One bad apple does spoil the whole team or company.

If you need more information on how to solve this issue, download our white paper, How to Solve the Problems Caused by the Employee too Valuable to Fire.

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