In one day I went from being the junior member of a three person team to the senior member of a three person team. It's my first supervisory role.
Unfortunately one of the new members of the team is someone I shall refer to as Mr. Problem. This is his first job out of college. His behavior is often unprofessional (arrives late and/or leaves early without letting people know what is going on - even when it is planned (e.g. a doctor's appointment); skips meetings; doesn't apprise people of his progress; makes inappropriate comments about co-workers, customers, and other people; dismisses and refuses to follow best practices and standards; etc.). In spite of this, he seems to have upper management thinking he's some sort of expert, as he puts on a show of being enthusiastic and presents himself as a genius at what he's doing (I know better, but can't say too much - see the next paragraph).
The manager who decided to hire Mr. Problem moonlights as an instructor at the college Mr. Problem attended and had him as a student. It is obvious they are friends. While I wasn't trying to eavesdrop (one of their offices is adjacent to mine and the walls do almost nothing to stop sound) I've overheard conversations they've had about leaving this company and starting their own (which isn't uncommon in this company anyway). Since this manager is higher up than (but not directly above) me, I need to move carefully here. While I've never had anything more than suspicions of why (mostly involving the fact that he didn't get along with the first manager I worked for here - something I came to understand), this manager has always treated me with some hostility.
This morning the customer contacted me to request a change in the product we are creating for them. The change is in the work area of Mr. Problem, so he's easily the best person to make the change. While I'm not intimately familiar with what Mr. Problem has done, the change should be almost trivial to do, taking a half day or less. It will save the customer's employees considerable time when they need to use this functionality of the product. However, when I told Mr. Problem of the customer's request, he simply refused to do the task. His stated reason for refusing was that there is another way to accomplish what the customer wants. While that is true, it is more time consuming, which he admitted.
In theory, I'm supposed to be the supervisor here and Mr. Problem should be doing what I've directed. In reality, I have no power to reprimand him. Going to the next level is tricky, as mentioned above. Going above that seems likely to create even more problems than it solves for me. I could to the work myself, but have my own work to do and figuring out how to make things work within Mr. Problem's stuff will be much more time consuming for me than it would be for him.
So, should I restate my directive to him? Talk with Mr. Problem's manager buddy? Kick this to upper management? Just do the work myself?
Note: (In actuality, this is in the past for me and I didn't navigate the situation well. However, I think someone else might benefit from reading suggestions here.)