Six steps for man­ag­ing an in­sub­or­di­nate em­ployee suc­cess­fully

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Kath­leen Win­sor-Games — Kath­leen Win­sor-Games is the prin­ci­pal of The Win­sor Group, a Den­ver-based firm of­fer­ing lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment, team build­ing and career coach­ing. See her blog at TheWin­sorGroup.com.

Con­grat­u­la­tions on your pro­mo­tion. You were se­lected over sev­eral in­ter­nal can­di­dates for the man­age­ment role you have been work­ing to­ward for years. The one thing you didn’t count on was the former peer who thinks he should have won the pro­mo­tion.

In fact, in the few short weeks since you as­sumed your new du­ties, “Jim” has done sev­eral things that you think add up to in­sub­or­di­na­tion. What should you do?

First, ask your­self if his be­hav­ior meets the def­i­ni­tion of in­sub­or­di­nate be­hav­ior: defying au­thor­ity, dis­re­spect­ful ac­tions or com­mu­ni­ca­tion, or the fail­ure to obey rea­son­able di­rec­tions about a project, task or other work dead­line. Let’s say Jim “bor­rowed” your of­fice while you were out with­out ask­ing per­mis­sion. Per­haps he rudely re­fused your re­quest for a re­port dur­ing a team meet­ing. Once you are cer­tain his be­hav­iors are, in fact, in­sub­or­di­na­tion, you need a plan.

Let’s get some of the “what not to do” out of the way first. Don’t wait for this be­hav­ior to go away. Al­low­ing it to fester is the same as en­dors­ing the be­hav­ior as ac­cept­able and part of the norms in your depart­ment. Don’t re­spond emo­tion­ally or ag­gres­sively. When force meets force, the out­come is de­struc­tive for both par­ties. Re­sist re­port­ing it to hu­man re­sources un­til you have a plan (more on that in a mo­ment). Like­wise, re­sist com­plain­ing to your al­lies, un­less you are brain­storm­ing on con­struc­tive mea­sures. In­stead, try to:

1. De­tach emo­tion­ally. Don’t take it per­son­ally. Re­mem­ber, it is likely this in­di­vid­ual would have re­acted in a sim­i­lar man­ner no mat­ter who was pro­moted. Step back and fo­cus on facts and is­sues. Iden­tify the best out­comes for the team and com­pany. 2. Set an ex­am­ple of de­sired be­hav­ior. Even though this in­di­vid­ual is act­ing dis­re­spect­fully, you must be the ma­ture adult and treat your en­tire team with re­spect while ex­pect­ing ac­count­abil­ity. 3. Pre­pare your case be­fore meet­ing with hu­man re­sources. Doc­u­ment the spe­cific in­stances of dis­re­spect­ful or in­sub­or­di­nate be­hav­ior. It is essential to spec­ify the neg­a­tive im­pact on team per­for­mance. End­ing dis­rup­tive be­hav­iors is only the first step. Spell out what you want in­stead, for in­stance: co­op­er­a­tion and re­spect­ful com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the en­tire team. Out­line the spe­cific tasks and stan­dards re­quired of this role. Spell out how they re­late to team and com­pany goals.

4. Ask hu­man re­sources to help you get to the root of the prob­lem. Can you iden­tify goals that Jim could work to­ward that would ben­e­fit him, the team and com­pany? 5. Cre­ate a plan and stick with it. With HR, draft a writ­ten

plan for Jim’s im­prove­ment. Es­tab­lish bench­marks, time­lines, sup­port­ive re­sources and checkin points. Es­tab­lish con­se­quences and re­wards and carry them out.

6. Be pre­pared to take next steps, in­clud­ing ter­mi­na­tion, if Jim de­cides not to co­op­er­ate.

Al­though Jim’s short-term goal was thwarted, he may be able to over­come his dis­ap­point­ment and work to­ward a win for him­self and the team. Do your best to sup­port that. Re­mem­ber, your job is to en­sure the best per­for­mance from the team while not al­low­ing one poor per­former to de­rail those ef­forts.

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