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My workplace recently hired two new employees, one with a lot of experience and one who needed training.

I’m starting to think that the experienced one is gunning for me and I’d like advice on how to handle it.

I was showing the untrained hire how to do something as per our protocol this morning, and he interrupted us and said that what I was doing was totally wrong. I was a bit dumbfounded because this has been our protocol for years. I’m not disputing whether he may be right (and I don’t set the protocols) but the manner in which he spoke to me felt like a lecture and a telling off, and probably made me look silly in front of the untrained new hire.

Then later in the day he flagged up two mistakes that I had apparently made. To be fair this wasn’t in front of anyone but one was quite a serious mistake, so I felt a bit of panic until I questioned him further and it became clear that he’d misunderstood situation 1 and that situation 2 was someone else’s error, not mine.

Finally, I took an internal phonecall meant for him as I was about to leave for lunch (he was on another call and the staff member who should have covered had vanished). I passed on the verbal message and he said he wanted it raised at the next meeting that I hadn’t put the message in writing. If he hadn’t been right there I would have put it in writing, but it was a very short message, so I had felt comfortable repeating it directly.

How should I handle this? Am I being paranoid? I’ve heard him semi-scolding/teaching the untrained hire but that makes some sense. I’ve worked here for 10+ years and am technically superior to him. Of note he’s made a few minor mistakes since he started and I’ve just fixed them rather that flagging them since I wanted him to feel welcome in his new workplace.

The other staff have mentioned to me a few times that they think he’s great. He definitely knows the general job really well. But no one has mentioned him having an overly assertive attitude. Should I speak to him about any of this? Or plan a way to respond when my next ‘mistake’ gets flagged? Or should I give him more time to settle in as it’s only been a couple weeks?

  • 1
    The new hire, what was his employment history like? Was he, for example, previously in a higher position than the one he got at your company? – user34587 Feb 25 at 15:05
  • How does a flag work in your company? Does it basically make everyone knows about it or it's just something nobody cares in src control system? – tweray Feb 25 at 15:08
  • What is your relative position? Trainer, lead, supervisor, some kind of direct report for these employees? – CKM Feb 25 at 16:06
  • Thanks for the comments all: We have a complicated hierarchy. I’m Team Lead but not the manager. Both the new staff have come in at the bottom and will be on lower wages currently. I’m not sure where this guy last worked but if it wasn’t for his ‘attitude’ I’d be thinking he was a great asset to our team. He might still be. But I definitely felt like he was trying to catch me out and show me up today. Mistakes that are more than minor will be raised to the manager and relayed back to the whole team. Very serious mistakes go higher. – Noori Feb 25 at 17:39
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The person you are describing seems to be very self-centered at best, heck, I would just use the word toxic tbh.

Since as you mentioned you have high seniority in the company, I suggest to take the high road. To be specific:

he flagged up two mistakes that I had apparently made... he’d misunderstood situation 1 and that situation 2 was someone else’s error.

You should have done this well on first occurrence, but it's not too late. If the person is flagging you and it's known to the team, make sure you provide a calm, polite and rational response with the whole team known as well. If it is indeed a mistake you made, own it honestly. If there's a counter point, describe it with clear, objective and logically words to the team. Politely remind him to be careful when pointing fingers in future.

I was showing the untrained hire how to do something as per our protocol this morning, and he interrupted us and said that what I was doing was totally wrong.

Tell him you are explaining the standard and well established protocol of the company, if he has any suggestion to make, he's welcomed to raise it up in team meeting or directly talk with management, though at this moment you'd rather not be interrupted.

he’s made a few minor mistakes since he started and I’ve just fixed them rather that flagging them

You should never fix something for him without his consent. This person seems to hold very high standard on everyone around him, so he himself deserves a standard as high too. The most kind way you can do is talk to him privately about the mistake and tell him you won't really flag it unless it happen repeatedly.

I passed on the verbal message and he said he wanted it raised at the next meeting that I hadn’t put the message in writing

Remind him that you are not his secretary and you are not obligated to pass any message for him.

I’ve heard him semi-scolding/teaching the untrained hire but that makes some sense

Tell him to watch his tones and avoid scolding anyone, it's bad for company and team building. Also remind him it's not yet in his authority to teach the untrained new hires so he'd better keep a friendly atmosphere when communicating with colleagues.

Overall, don't be vulnerable, you are dealing with a toxic person, and you can't treat toxic with kindness.

5

I was a bit dumbfounded because this has been our protocol for years. I’m not disputing whether he may be right (and I don’t set the protocols) but the manner in which he spoke to me felt like a lecture and a telling off, and probably made me look silly in front of the untrained new hire.

He likely looked like an entitled jack-ass. You looked like the friendly new employee helping out. If this happens again, just say

Yeah, you might be right, but this is the process the team/the boss/the CEO has agreed to, so you'll need to format things this way

Then later in the day he flagged up two mistakes that I had apparently made. To be fair this wasn’t in front of anyone but one was quite a serious mistake

He found a mistake and privately brought it to your attention. Here he's doing the right thing. Together you determined it wasn't your issue, and hopefully handed it off to the appropriate person.

I passed on the verbal message and he said he wanted it raised at the next meeting that I hadn’t put the message in writing.

He should have passed this message himself unless it was something like "I'll be on vacation next week". If you've ever played telephone, you know how easy it is for the message to change through just a few re-tellings.

The other staff have mentioned to me a few times that they think he’s great. He definitely knows the general job really well.

People like him. It's too early to tell if he's just trying to show enthusiasm for his new job, or if he's gonna be the office jerk. Give him the benefit of the doubt.

How should I handle this? Am I being paranoid? I’ve heard him semi-scolding/teaching the untrained hire but that makes some sense.

You might want to wait and see if this behavior mellows as he becomes more comfortable in his role. If it doesn't, you can always have a 1-on-1 chat with him.

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    "Yeah, you might be right, but this is the process the team/the boss/the CEO has agreed to, so you'll need to format things this way" Wouldn't quite put it like that ... I would highlight that this is how things are currently, but as if he has an idea how to do it better, then he can bring it up later and discuss. I wouldn't shoot him down like that for trying to introduce an improvement; I'd shoot down how he did it. – UKMonkey Feb 25 at 17:29
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I think it might just be the new hire being over zealous because he's new. There are some people who, when joining a new work environment, tend to go overboard because they are ambitious or don't want others to think they're slacking off. He may be coming on a bit strong so definitely recommend talking to him rather than assuming the worst right off the bat.

Also just food for thought, but if you feel like he's gunning for you, what does that say about you and your current skill sets/way you do things?

0

I was showing the untrained hire how to do something as per our protocol this morning, and he interrupted us and said that what I was doing was totally wrong. I was a bit dumbfounded because this has been our protocol for years. I’m not disputing whether he may be right (and I don’t set the protocols) but the manner in which he spoke to me felt like a lecture and a telling off, and probably made me look silly in front of the untrained new hire.

This is rude, plain and simple.

Personally, I'd have asked if he wanted me to explain the protocols in place, and the reasoning behind them, then summarised the exchange in an email reply (cc the boss)

Following our discussion on DAY, I've got the background on the protocols and the decision making behind their implementation. In future, if you have any concerns, please raise them with DECISION MAKER directly

Then later in the day he flagged up two mistakes that I had apparently made. To be fair this wasn’t in front of anyone but one was quite a serious mistake, so I felt a bit of panic until I questioned him further and it became clear that he’d misunderstood situation 1 and that situation 2 was someone else’s error, not mine.

Again, rude. Time for another round of emails

Thanks for spotting those issues earlier. As discussed, issue 1 is due to situation x, and issue 2 has been passed over to OTHER PERSON to look at. In future, please flag issues to the line manager

Finally, I took an internal phonecall meant for him as I was about to leave for lunch (he was on another call and the staff member who should have covered had vanished). I passed on the verbal message and he said he wanted it raised at the next meeting that I hadn’t put the message in writing. If he hadn’t been right there I would have put it in writing, but it was a very short message, so I had felt comfortable repeating it directly.

It sounds like a red flag now. You're going to need to be assertive.

Don't let them trap you with a showdown in the meeting. Flag it to your boss before the meeting, and ask for a ruling before it comes up.

It sounds like the new hire might be out of their depth and is looking to discredit the one person who can undermine them.

0

It definitely sounds like this person does not like you.

Broadcasting your co-workers mistakes is an extremely dumb idea.

If you are the team lead, did you interview him before he was hired? It is common to ask people how they handle mistakes by their co-workers, so you can screen out this kind of behavior.

I’ve heard him semi-scolding/teaching the untrained hire but that makes some sense.

It is very important that you stop this behavior. As Team Lead, it is your job to coach the new hire. If you find the problem fellow's criticism unhelpful and hostile, so may this other person. Your new hire will be very unhappy if you let them get bullied by their peers - and the problem fellow may be 'teaching' incorrectly.

-6

It sounds like your new colleague is a good one.

Trying to improve your companies work and protocols but also point out potential serious mistakes.

Of note he’s made a few minor mistakes since he started and I’ve just fixed them rather that flagging them since I wanted him to feel welcome in his new workplace.

You should tell him when he makes mistakes, otherwise he'll never learn and may keep making the same mistakes.

I would say continue to do your job as normal. As for the company protocols simple respond

These aren't my protocols, it's the way the company does it. Any problems you can talk to my our superiors.

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    Starting a new job gunning for older coworkers does not scream 'good coworker' to me. A good employee tries to fit in with the team and exert their position not by asserting dominance over other employees, but by finding their own place within the team. – M. Doe Feb 25 at 15:11

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