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The background My colleague and I were hired as leads on a new data warehousing team. She does great in meetings, knows the right questions to ask and appears very competent in customer-facing situations.

Back in the bullpen, however, its another matter altogether.
I have over 15 years of experience in data warehousing and I've worked in every role on an EDW team, and it didn't take long for me to realize that she's totally unqualified to do what she was hired for.

Hers is a very critical role and I've tried to mitigate her incompetence by helping her when asked. I've tried to steer her away from bad decisions, and offered suggestions privately so as not to embarrass her. But we're on different branches of the org chart, so I have no authority over what she ultimately does.

In addition to her incompetence, she's shown herself to be very vindictive, untrustworthy, and disloyal. On more than one occasion, she's disparaged team members to end-users in other departments, one of whom was a director. And her vindictiveness along with her incompetence over the past 18 months has resulted in the director of our department getting fired.

The current situation We've been going through a departmental re-org and now the team is under a different director. He recently asked me to put together a .ppt deck defining my ideal warehousing team, with all the roles I believe are necessary, in order for us to succeed. He asked me to place people on the team in the roles I believe they should be, and to augment the org chart wherever I believe there is a need. He also asked me to include in a separate document, commentary about my decisions.

My Problem I'd like to exclude her from the new team entirely. She's not loyal to the team. I don't trust her, and I don't see her as an asset. But would that be appropriate? Or is it more appropriate to place her in a different role? I can't in good conscience keep her in the role she's in when I know she has no business being there. I will be managing this new team, and I have good reason to believe that whatever I define will be established exactly as I've asked for it. And I do not want to manage her.

I don't want her on the team at all, to be honest.

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"....defining my ideal warehousing team..." She's not in your ideal team. Putting her in it is lying to your new director, and he'll blame you for including her if she blows things up. He's given you a blank sheet, and you should be honest with him about what your ideal team is. He didn't ask you to write the current team, he asked for the ideal team, and he's expecting it to differ from the existing team. If you claim she's ideal, he'll assume he should listen to what she says. The old director got fired? She'll always blame you or your new director publicly for problems she caused. –  AndrewC Jun 23 at 0:21

3 Answers 3

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Here is the deal, as I see it:

  1. Every member of the team has to carry their weight.
  2. The minute you have to second guess an individual team member's every decision, the expense in terms of time and energy negatively impacts on your ability to give direction to the team and your ability to give the logistical support that the team needs to accomplish its mission. That individual's inability to do their job will extract a price from you in terms of your ability to do YOUR job.
  3. She has shown herself to be a disruptive person in the past and there is no indication that she won't be a disruptive person in the future. She may be the person who will send up in smoke your vision of your team as a smooth, top functioning machine.

There is no question that you must get her off the team, unless you are curious to find out what it's like to manage an employee from hell.

I hope that you have documented instances of both her technical incompetence and poor interpersonal skills to make it obvious to your management why she does not belong on your team. Because you can't make a case without documentation i.e. date, time,location, description of the incident, outcome, participant and witnesses - we're talking specificity here.

If you haven't documented any of these incidents properly, I suggest that you devise a technical test for her to pass, which she will most likely fail. At this point, her lack of fit for the team will be obvious. Whether she belongs in some other part of the firm or not at all anywhere in the firm - that's not your problem nor your concern. It's hers, and it's up to her and the company to work it out. The only thing you care about is that she is not on your team.

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Careful about formal tests. If you don't give them to everybody in the job they're intended to screen, you lay yourself open to charges of discrimination, which is not a good direction in which to take this situation. –  user987654 Jun 21 at 2:58
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Update: My dtr carefully & methodically observed and evaluated everyone on the team. Then reorganized our department and fired my toxic colleague. I have since learned that examples of her incompetence and disparagement of fellow colleagues were brought to my director's attention by several people. And when it was announced that she would be leaving, people I didn't know from other floors came by to say "good riddance". I was surprised that so many people knew about her. We're all amazed at the diff. in the team dynamics. We're much more productive & the environment is peaceful. –  user3739835 Jul 22 at 3:06

Speak to this new director privately. Ask him for permission to speak confidentially. Say something "I have a hard time working with Priscilla, and I don't think I'm alone in that. Honestly, I am concerned that she'll weaken our team because of her difficulties in dealing with people one-on-one, her ability to work independently, and her problems staying on-message with our user departments. What advice can you offer me about placing her on this new team?"

Then the conversation can go one of two ways. In one direction, you leave her off the team and you're all set with buy-in from your director.

In the other direction, the director says you should keep her on the team. If that case, you can push back a little, and explain the risks of including her. Ask for his advice about how to mitigate those risks. And, if it makes sense in your company, ask him to suggest somebody from HR who can coach you on dealing with her. You won't be on your own in this, and the director will haver some forewarning of trouble.

That way, you'll have asked for advice, received it and gotten help managing a high-maintenance person.

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If your director wants you to keep her on the team, perhaps you could leverage her strengths. You said, "She does great in meetings, knows the right questions to ask and appears very competent in customer-facing situations." Any chance you could leverage that strength in a non-technical (or less-technical) role? –  PurpleVermont Jun 21 at 1:54

You were given a job task as the impending "new manager" in which you were asked to put together your preferred Team; I presume you must gather the team from existing staff. Then you were required to comment separately about the team as to who and why for positions. Just get on and do it. You should not have created, in the past, any expectations by other staff of allegiance or other reasons for not naming and commenting about the "best people for the job". That is your job role now!

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