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I am an American who works for a public entity. I am on a three person team. It is me, my supervisor, and I just acquired an employee. So now I am a supervisor, as well. We recently absorbed the employee on our team because her previous supervisor transferred to a different job.

When we absorbed the new employee we absorbed a whole other team into our unit. So she has been working on other projects that we haven’t seen before. These projects are now ours. My supervisor and I are looking over the projects to get familiar with them and have met with the new team member once a week for a month.

My supervisor and I have a strong rapport. We have worked together for a couple years and work very well together. We respect each another and always end up on the same page. When my supervisor and I have team meetings with the new employee, somehow she takes over with her big ideas. Even though my boss and I are her superiors she tends to talk to us as though she assumes we don’t know certain things. When really she is just talking our ears off about stuff we do already know. We would have to interrupt her to tell her that, but maybe we should. She repeats herself over again at each meeting.

My supervisor and I are confused about how to move forward. We want to make her feel comfortable and we want her to give ideas and opinions, but we feel that she isn’t respecting the hierarchy. She has great ideas but her work is not up to par yet. She is improving, but I think she could improve even more if she let us take the lead and if she listened more and spoke less.

She only just started with us, and we have a different vision than her. We know our boss well, and we know what he likes, and her work wouldn’t meet his standards. So we get frustrated at meetings because we have to rein her in all the time. I created meeting agendas and that has helped a little. So if she gets off track, I pull her back in with the agenda notes.

I think I should speak directly to her and tell her I like her ideas, the content she provides for presentations, and that she has opinions, but she should let us take the lead on meetings. What do you think? Is this a reasonable request? Also, it should be noted that we are adding another person to our team that will be a higher level than her, and my fear is that the newest employee could follow in her footsteps. So I want to fix this issue now.

Additional Information: She is a bit older than I am and she brings up that she has 40 years of working experience. Note that I have only been working for this public entity for 2 years. Our team is working on training and development for new and current employees. My degree is in teaching and I have almost 10 years of teaching experience. She has a degree in Business and Psychology, which she mentions often. I do feel that she is looking for respect, and I have told her I respect her work, but at the same time she is not respecting my experience and background. Also, I do my best to listen and keep an open mind to her ideas, but she often rambles on and talks to us like she is teaching us things, even though we are fully aware of the subject matter and even more experienced in the subject matter than she is. I do my best to hear her out, and to not interrupt her so that she feels heard and respected, but it is frustrating.

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    It's hard to give an answer without trying to divine her motivations. It could be as simple as recognition. If you can mention just once or twice in a meeting about a positive contribution she's made to the topic at hand, that may be what she's after. – Wesley Long Jun 13 '18 at 1:33
  • @WesleyLong, praising behaviors normally leads to their reinforcement. Actually Silversp04 should do the opposite and point very clearly to problematic contributions. – BigMadAndy Jun 13 '18 at 5:22
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    "she isn’t respecting the hierarchy" What on earth does that mean? You complain that she's telling you stuff you already know without actually telling her that. She then presumably repeats things because she's getting no indication from you that you know what she's talking about. What is the actual business problem that her actions in meetings are causing? Why haven't you given her any feedback so far? – Lilienthal Jun 13 '18 at 12:27
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    @385703 - Praise the contribution she made privately beforehand during the meeting. Reinforce the behavior you want to see. Sorry if that wasn't clear. – Wesley Long Jun 13 '18 at 15:13
  • Lilienthal- How do you think a new person should conduct themselves in a meeting with two supervisors? Should she immidiately (before anyone has a chance to even say anything) give them pamphlets about ideas for the future (even though current projects are not close to being finished) and not address the items on the meeting agenda (that her supervisors provided) or should she see how they run meetings and follow suit? We are a group that gives opportunity for all ideas and opinions, but we have always conducted organized meetings in which the supervisor leads. – Sliversp04 Jun 14 '18 at 12:48
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I think I should speak directly to her and tell her I like her ideas, the content she provides for presentations, and that she has opinions, but she should let us take the lead on meetings.

If you gave me this feedback, I wouldn't understand what the problem you're pointing to is. This is something you can say during a 1:1 after you pointed to the problematic behavior, but not instead.

You need to react immediately when she does what you describe.

If she repeats herself, interrupt and say "We've talked about it already and decided not to go this way".

If she wastes time for abstract/ unrelated divagations, say something like "Kate, we have little time, so let's stick to the issues we have on our agenda" or, more confrontationally, after she really goes on unrelated topics ask "What does that have to do with the topic we are discussing?".

If she talks about the obvious, say "Let me interrupt you here, we [you and your boss] know the background you are talking about very well. So let's please focus on the point in the agenda".

And do it now, before the additional person joins your team.

As a person who is currently dealing with a colleague like that in meetings, a person who instead of answering my questions explains me the world and of course, doesn't fail to mention "she's been here longer than other team members so she knows that...", I think your main reason to be worry about the colleague to join your team is that they may get demotivated by "Kate". That's why you should react. It's a personality thing, so the probability they will do the same isn't that high, unless they are prone to that.

  • These tips are extremely helpful! Especially providing immediate feedback during the meeting and then following up with her after. I plan on using these strategies. Thank you! – Sliversp04 Jun 14 '18 at 0:53
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Funnily enough I have been the subordinate in this situation and your question just irritated me to no end. All I got from it is, know your place and do what I say. I have noticed many times that the evaluation of work has much more to due with how much you like someone than the actual quality of the work. So I'm very dubious on your assessment.

The way I was appeased was to have a one on one where my goals were taken into consideration. Deliverables for both me and the supervisor were established. He got a nice quiet meeting and I got SMART goals that ended up landing me where I wanted to be. Win win.

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    I didn't down vote but I think you are misinterpreting a bit. If the person really repeats herself in meetings and talks about obvious things to her superiors, this is quite rude. Communication should be adjusted to the target audience. If I need to tell my boss something that I find quite basic I use phrases such as "Please interrupt me if you know that, but..." or "I'm not sure if you got this info but...". And if the colleague soliloquizes - and it sounds as if she were - this is never a good thing to do unless you are at the top. – BigMadAndy Jun 13 '18 at 17:27
  • Thanks for the reply. You can downvote if you disagree, I'm not bothered by internet points. People repeat themselves when they feel they are not heard or understood. The easiest way to help people feel that is to repeat what they said back to them. Then add a small bit of insight on the end. Guess I could of gone with that. But having that psychology trick played on me makes me mad. – Lockless Jun 13 '18 at 17:42
  • I may not be explaining the full context of the situation well. I like your comment about having a one on one to discuss career goals and I plan on doing that. Also, I am paying attention to your comment that she is repeating herself because she feels that she isn’t being heard. – Sliversp04 Jun 14 '18 at 13:01

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