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Scenario:

I’m a dual site manager having some issues with one of my supervisors. Her behaviour is causing negativity amongst the team.

Morale is falling off a cliff!

Problem: she only misbehaves when I’m not on the premises. When I am on site she is overly nice and works hard but when I’m not there she is passive aggressive and petty. 

It’s got to the point where I can’t trust her.

And now I’m popping into the site unannounced to check on everything. It’s wasting time, and a real distraction.

I need to stop this behaviour from her.

Team members report that she:

  • gave one team member info about a job vacancy and told her she should apply – the job is outside the company!
  • gave team members silly and demeaning tasks to complete when there are more productive tasks they could do
  • constantly checks on them and then insinuates they are not working hard enough when they had literally have not a minute to spare.
  • Made snarky remarks about how everyone should go home for no reason, when one person had to go home sick. The snarky remarks were made in front of other people who then fed this back to the person who was sick. This caused bad feelings.
  • constantly tells tales to me about other team members.

I’m looking for ideas of how to manage this as my attempts to chat to her about it so far have failed. 

We have a chat, and all is good then it goes slowly downhill again. She always has an excuse or reason as to why or what happened and denies or plays down certain events or conversations. She always seems to be in a state of disbelief that things have been said about her and can’t believe this has happened etc.

Oh, the joys of people management…

She’s been here for 6 years. Unfortunately, the previous manager ignored the behavioural issues so now it’s even more difficult for me to get on top of.

I only became her line manager 6 months ago, but this behaviour has only become apparent to me, recently.

HR told me that the previous manager had  spoken to her about the same issue (no record of this anywhere) and ended up being reported to management for bullying her!

What’s my best actions with this one?  I know I need to be treading very carefully!

HRLADY's profession (non-legal) advice

Have chats with neighbours across the garden fence. Don’t have chats with people like her, because it will not work.

Formal action is what will work .

Unfortunately, her bad behaviour was not corrected and was reinforced by the lack of correction.  As you can see, it is the kind of behaviour that can cause huge problems for everyone. You could face grievances from all your team, and her, if it’s not sorted properly.

Ask for the team’s help.

Even though the team members don’t want to go on the record, you must investigate exactly what has happened. Tell them you will protect them, and that, unlike the previous manager, you’ll do something about it.

Gather evidence

You need to figure out what she’s done wrong, and for this you need evidence. You must be able to show the disruptive, destructive or non-productive behaviour. If it ends up as a grievance, the evidence, and how you collected it, will be key.

Document everything.

If rules have been broken, you then need to decide what action to take to try to correct her behaviour. Start with the disciplinary procedure. Read it thoroughly and know it backwards.

Then take it step by step.


This one is fraught with complexity. I would really suggest that you need some HR support to hold your hand on this one!

I had a case dealing with poor performance from a senior manager who was also bullying junior staff. I thought: Oh $*&t what have I got here! Melony helped immensely, and I was able to continue managing my business knowing that the problems were in a controlled process that would run it's course, without impacting on the myriad of other daily challenges of running the business.
Philip, Business Unit Manager
100+ Employees
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