From the Ask Tom mailbag –
I am a manager in a very busy engineering firm. I have a team of 6 engineers who review and stamp reports and 8 technicians doing field work. Of four new technician recruits, I have three who fit in well. But one, who is experienced and double my age, has become a problem. Everything I say or do, is wrong in his eyes.
In the morning, in our huddle, I will assign work orders along with specific instructions. My new technician will just stand there and say, “that is not how you mean to do it.”
I have had three meetings with him about different issues.
- Being disrespectful, talking my staff down to the ground
- Writing nasty comments in our weekly best practices recap
- Not following work instructions, which has impacted our quality standards (he defends that his method is better)
And now I have a conference scheduled with my boss to explain a drop in our audited standards.
My new team member is in our 90 day probation period, been with us for 4 weeks now, and is basically undoing all the hard work to get the department from a half-star to a four star shop.
Welcome to the real world of management. This is a hiring problem. Understand that you, as the hiring manager made the mistake, and that is why it is difficult to let go. But, you have to let go. You can now, either move for termination, or live a miserable life as a manager dealing with the drama.
There are four requirements for success in any role.
- Capability – ability to effectively process the complexity of decisions and problems in the role
- Skill – technical knowledge and practiced performance
- Interest, passion – value for the work
- Required behaviors – ability to effectively execute the required behaviors in the role
I believe, based on your description that you are dealing with two issues. One is required behaviors. How do you get required behaviors?
You contract for them. And for a team member to willfully engage otherwise, violates the contract.
If I worked in a restaurant, known for a specific recipe of hot sauce, and, as a cook, I decided the sauce tasted better with more ketchup, my term with the restaurant would be short-lived.
The other issue is capability. Based on your description, your team member may have a higher level of capability than is required for the role. Whenever there is a capability mis-match, up or down, you will observe counter-productive behavior. This counter-productive behavior may act out as arrogance, condescension, rebellion or other forms of drama.
But who made the mistake in the first place? You, as the hiring manager. Admit your mistake and fix it. Or be miserable for a very long time.