I am co-located with my team member who reports to me. Near us, inside a room seating about 8 people, are other members from various unrelated teams.

Often there is banter and jokes, that are no different that those that happen in many workplaces. Some jokes are made at my expense but I have no issues with those.

I find, however, that my team-member is unable to differentiate work from play and of late, is treating me as more of a colleague than supervisor and has begun admonishing me when I make any work-related suggestions or advice.

How can this situation be improved please?

  • 1
    What authority does being supervisor give you? And what sort of problems are these, suggestions or advice sounds like personal stuff rather than concrete implementations. – Kilisi Nov 14 '18 at 14:24
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    What do you mean by co-located? In most work scenarios I've seen, managers and their direct reports work in minimally the same area of a building/workplace. – cdkMoose Nov 14 '18 at 14:54
  • How much are you his supervisor? Can you affect his review, benefits, salary, bonuses? IF not, you`re not really a supervisor – Strader Nov 16 '18 at 18:37

The longer this goes on the harder it will take to deal with. You need to assert your authority.

Remwmber the old saying "praise in public, criticise in private". If the last incident was very recent, call them into a meeting as soon as possible. Otherwise, you can wait until the next issue, then take them aside. If you don't feel comfortable solo do so with a witness present in case you are worried about a "he said she said" type of scenario.

Inform them that you are not their friend, you are their supervisor. If they are still on probation, remind them of that fact and explain exactly what that means in terms of their employment. Tell them what you expect, and ask them if they understand.

And this is the most important part: if they persist in their behaviour you need to escalate it and take appropriate actions.


There's an effective formula for the kind of conversation you need to have with this employee of yours.

  1. make sure it is a private conversation, and cannot be overheard by anybody.
  2. tell the person you have something to say and you don't want to be interrupted until you have finished speaking.
  3. describe, specifically, the unwanted behavior.
  4. describe its negative effect on your department and company.
  5. ask for a change.

For example:

Jack, yesterday I asked you to fill out your TPS report, You said you thought it was a waste of time, and you refused to do it. Your refusal causes problems for our department: the front office needs those reports to plan next quarter's work. If they don't have our reports, they can't plan well.

Please understand this: part of my job is giving you instructions about how to do yours. Please, in future, follow my instructions. And, please get that TPS report done by noon. Thanks.

Don't expect him to smack his forehead and say "you're right! I'm sorry!" It is hard for people to do that. It will take him some time -- overnight or longer -- to take your words on board. But he MUST take them on board.

If this doesn't work, ask your supervisor or human resource person about how to take this matter of discipline to the next level.

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