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I have a person who also reports to my direct report. She has been longer than me in the company. I have multiple issues with this person:

  • Often openly questions my expertise
  • Sends excessively long email for the smallest things (like me conducting a survey), or things completely unrelated to her responsibility area
  • Tries to push through decisions that are mine to make

Every time it happens I sit down with her and spend about talking. Most of the time we can find an "agreement" and she leaves seemingly happy. Sometimes it escalates to the point where she gets even more upset and threatens to leave the room.

At first I thought it was due to temporary anxiety because there was a restructuring recently, but now I'm pretty sure this isn't temporary.

Sometimes I'm forced to address her behavior via email that people on the mailing list can read, which I feel is damaging the team atmosphere. Same for during meetings. I have already directly addressed this issue with her but with no success.

How could I approach her in a polite and effective way to convince her of raising her issues in a more professional manner? It would be great if she could focus on her job and stop "bossing around" on matters outside her responsibilities, but I don't know how to convey this to her.

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    I feel like most of your post sounds a bit like a rant, could you try to reduce those details and focus more on the goal you want to achieve? – DarkCygnus Oct 19 '17 at 21:36
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    Why is she in the meetings and on the email chains for matters that aren't her purview? A simple solution would be to keep her out of the loop on things that don't concern her. Unless this isn't really the case and she does have a right to weigh in on these things. – AffableAmbler Oct 19 '17 at 21:37
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    @GrayCygnus I will... not make an edit! (Since you are) – Frank FYC Oct 19 '17 at 21:46
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    @FrankFYC haha ;) done, I think the rant is gone now – DarkCygnus Oct 19 '17 at 21:48
  • @e45_94936 I have made some edits to your post, to remove the strong content (rant) and make it more answerable. Feel free to edit it further to improve it more. – DarkCygnus Oct 19 '17 at 21:48
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How could I approach her in a polite and effective way to convince her of raising her issues in a more professional manner? It would be great if she could focus on her job and stop "bossing around" on matters outside her responsibilities, but I don't know how to convey this to her.

Acknowledge her knowledge and experience. But assert your authority.

Undeniably, this individual is smart, smart in the subject matter, smart in wanting that the best work is produced, but not smart with the bigger picture.

Instead of creating an opportunity for her to interject with her opinion, shape the opportunity to a question, acknowledge your inexperience, and channel her innate desire to help and do things right.

Person 1: There is a problem with Widget X

You: Hey, this seems like a big problem, I might not have the answer, @DirectReport, you have experience with X, what are your ideas?

This way, you control the narrative like a talk show host.

Every time it happens I sit down with her and spend about talking. Most of the time we can find an "agreement" and she leaves seemingly happy. Sometimes it escalates to the point where she gets even more upset and threatens to leave the room.

With this said, it would appear a topic of conversation for your next 1:1 would be to state to her that see is undoubtedly smart, but she needs to hold back such that people in the team can grow by struggling instead of going to her for answers all the time.

Enlist her help by asking that she take step back and see if a problem can be an opportunity for her to help rather than to solve.

Sometimes I'm forced to address her behavior via email that people on the mailing list can read, which I feel is damaging the team atmosphere. Same for during meetings. I have already directly addressed this issue with her but with no success

Also, praise in public, criticize in private.

  • people like he arent easy with criticism or telling them they need to change. It can backfire because she is longer than the OP – cookieMonster Oct 19 '17 at 21:57
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    OP is not telling them to change. He/She is channeling OP's innate tendency to help and do things right. It is still happening, but at OP's discretion and control. – Frank FYC Oct 19 '17 at 21:58
  • I agree with the channeling idea, sometimes people don't quite like other taking control, specially when she has been in the company longer than the OP (may feel threatened at some degree). Giving her a place and voice in the conversation will surely lighten her attitude, while making it clear that it is the OP the one leading the conversation. However, the second part I am not quite sure; it is a delicate matter to talk things like that, I would have to think that further to know for sure how/if to approach her one-on-one – DarkCygnus Oct 19 '17 at 22:15
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How could I approach her in a polite and effective way to convince her of raising her issues in a more professional manner? It would be great if she could focus on her job and stop "bossing around" on matters outside her responsibilities, but I don't know how to convey this to her.

It sounds like you have tried coaching her several times already and made no progress.

It also sounds like her manager reports to you, so this is really her manager's problem to deal with. Perhaps you haven't made it clear to her manager that this is a problem that needs to be stopped.

If you feel that you must personally deal with this then telling her directly that she must "focus on her job and stop "bossing around" on matters outside her responsibilities" should work. Also saying "and if you can't stop doing this, you will be let go" will make it clearer.

If you and/or her manager have tried and failed to convince her to stop, then it might be time to put her on a Performance Improvement Plan. Enlist HR's help in this, as most companies have a formal process that must be followed.

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