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This time last year I hired 'Bill', someone a little older than I am, to take over some responsibilities I needed to start delegating. Despite his great interview and full understanding of the job requirements, Bill initially did not appear enthused at all about the job or his position, which is very similar to ones he has held before. He is a junior level employee.

Due to some medical issues I have had to take around a day off each week for the past year. During this time, Bill has quickly learned new skills and has stepped up in a small leadership role, and is always asking questions. He has a very aggressive and blunt personality, and will definitely tell you what is on his mind, regardless of who you are.

So good: honest employee that is a quick study and is looking to grow? Terrific. For the past few months however, he has (at least as it seems to me) developed a little of an attitude issue:

  • Very frequently, he responds to things I ask him to do with a flat, annoyed 'okay', or before I can ask him to do things that he knows are his responsibilities, he tells me 'Can you go ahead and Do X?', as if he were the manager and I the employee.

  • He often goes above my head to my manager (CEO) to report things that are my responsibility (and I have dealt with), without my knowledge.

  • He complains that I do not keep him abreast of items, (even to the CEO) when we have covered them the day prior and the information is given to him daily.

  • He disregards the fact that management meetings are a thing, and blurts out issues or questions whenever he sees CEO, the answers to which I would be glad to give him.

  • He gets involved with other departments' business when he should be focusing on his own work. Asking our sales department if we have an agreement with Client X, "so that he knows when to do his job". (Communication between him and I is always open, so there wouldn't be any time that he wouldn't know 'when to do his job').

  • Today, as a matter of fact, I asked him to send me pictures of an incident. He replied to me by handing his phone and said 'Here's my phone, shouldn't take you a few minutes to get the pictures off of it.' He was not otherwise busy at the time.

  • He has asked during the past week for new responsibilities outside of his wheelhouse and paygrade, as evidently he sees himself as a liaison between myself, my management coworkers, and our CEO. He is not.

  • Taking the time to 'check on the guys and see how they are doing' when that is not his responsibility and he honestly should not have time for it with his workload (which is always late).

Recently I have been able to come back to work full time, albeit at an altered schedule, so that Bill is needed to work with our construction manager to get the construction team started in the morning. This he is good at, so I do not mind it.

I am not sure if, somehow, Bill wishes to take my position, which would be surprising, since he always refers to himself as 'Don't ask me, I'm just a lowly X'.

I spoke to our CEO about this issue, and he did not seem supportive at all. I told CEO that I felt Bill was stepping on my toes and needed to stay in his lane, both as his job description and an employee. He seemed dismissive of the whole issue "Don't let it bother you", "People will have different personalities, and you can't help that", and with advice to "just communicate with him" and "be patient". He told me that even though I felt that Bill was disrespecting me, that respect has to be earned. CEO told me to not sit down and talk with Bill about the issue, but instead to, slowly by inches, show Bill what I wanted to happen. He also told me to see what social skills I could learn from Bill. I can't see any. My boss did not help things when he told Bill 'Bill, you're the guy until OP rolls his lazy butt in at 11:00', and that 'OP is really better behind a desk'.

All that being said, I am a big proponent of 'decentralized command' and not having a big hierarchy. I am glad that Bill has taken initiative and has expanded his worldview, so to speak, about this industry, and many hands make light work. What I am not a proponent of is being disrespected and Bill's attitude.

I am not sure what I need to do. Bill does quality work, and is a great help when I need him in the mornings, but he does not show respect to me (or really anyone else) and is quite rude. Management (I feel) is dismissive of my issues. I am not sure if I need to talk to management about my own job role now and in five years.

What does Workplace think I should do? I am feeling demoralized.

  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Mister Positive Oct 4 at 21:08
  • Have you tried making your workplace into a democracy, so that neither you, the CEO, nor Bill, have any power over others in the workplace unless the workers have collectively recognised you're suitable to make decisions? – iono Oct 6 at 9:37
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My boss did not help things when he told Bill 'Bill, you're the guy until OP rolls his lazy butt in at 11:00', and that 'OP is really better behind a desk'.

That's a huge RED FLAG:

You are working the wrong issue. Your problem is the CEO, not Bill. There are clear indications that your CEO thinks that Bill is better at your job or more valuable than you are.

I would advise to have a rigorous look at your own performance and the value that you add. You need to make sure that your view of what you should be doing and what it means to the company is fully aligned with your CEOs. It's highly likely that your boss thinks that you have some significant performance gaps, so make sure these are clearly identified so you can start working on those. It doesn't matter whether the gaps are real or perceived; they need to be addressed.

Once your CEO sees you as a high performing and highly valuable contributor, the problem with Bill will probably just take care of itself. If there is no credible path to closing these gaps you need to start looking.

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    I wonder if "Bill" ever got some kind of feedback on what he is doing. It is mentioned he is a junior level employee. Could be clueless due to lack of experience and the OP goes directly to CEO to handle a junior member? – Jim Oct 3 at 21:02
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    @Metalgearmaycry Sounds like the CEO does value you...doing exactly the job that you're doing right now, including those responsibilities that you would like to start delegating... but would like to put an additional layer above you, with that layer being Bill. – user3067860 Oct 4 at 8:49
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    Adding to this answer, it puts other things in perspective as well. Bill going over OPs head with problems? Bill "blurting" things out to the CEO instead of OP? Yeah, there's a relationship there. Bill isn't doing those things with the intention of being disrespectful, he's doing those things because he feels more comfortable with the CEO; something the CEO has confirmed by saying he doesn't see problems with the issues. OP, I strongly suspect you're getting replaced and need to start job hunting. – Baron Oct 4 at 13:34
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    "Your problem is the CEO, not Bill" Oh, I think we have a both/and situation here... ;-) – T.J. Crowder Oct 4 at 16:23
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    "[CEO] reiterated my value within the company and told me that no one questions my worth" If some worth isn't questioned, then it doesn't come up in conversations in this way. :) – Kaz Oct 6 at 7:07
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Document the objective failings he has in his job. Don't document things that are subjective, like how you feel disrespected.

He doesn't complete his assignments on time? Document it when it happens, as well as the consequences for the business.

He complains that you aren't keeping him up to date on things? If you do this verbally, follow up with an email summary of the conversation, and refer to it later. If the CEO tells you Bill has been complaining to him, show him the emails.

Asking questions of the CEO that he should be asking you? Let him. If the CEO is happy wasting his time to inform Bill of things, that's his problem. It's the CEO's responsibility to say, "Bill, OP has that information and can bring you up to speed".

He's spending time doing things that aren't part of his job description? Document that when it happens.

He tries to foist off his work onto you? Don't let him. "Bill, that's not something I'll be able to get to today, and you've already committed to taking care of that." If he claims he's overloaded: "I've noticed that you've been doing A, B, and C, which aren't a part of your assigned work. I really need you to focus on X, and get that done."

The pictures thing? Weird. "Bill, I'm not comfortable digging through your phone. Please email me the photos." If he refuses, "forgets", or drags his feet, document this.

The worst bit is that your boss hasn't been supportive. He probably doesn't see the bad interactions you and Bill have, so when he interacts with Bill himself, he might just see a helpful dude who is ambitious and trying to help the company succeed. He might think of your complaints as attempting to knock Bill down because you believe your influence has dropped due to your illness, and you're upset about that.

This is why you don't document subjective things like "lack of respect". You document factual ways in which he is failing at his job, and what negative consequences those failings cause. Don't give your boss an excuse to assume that your complaints are just sour grapes. It's unfortunate that he's misunderstood the situation with you and Bill, but that means it falls upon you to correct him, with facts and hard data, without bringing emotion into the mix.

After you've collected some data, go to your CEO, present your case, and tell him what you want to do. Do you want his sign-off on firing Bill? Do you just want better support from him in handling Bill? Tell him, specifically, what you want, and see what happens.

Unfortunately, even this doesn't guarantee a good outcome. If you don't get what you need here, you likely only have two options: put up with Bill as he is, or find a new job for yourself. If you don't have the support of your boss, who just happens to be the CEO, you're probably not going to be all that successful going forward.

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    In past jobs I've had to send emails like, "Per our discussion, please get me those pictures by EOD today". That provides a paper trail so it's not so much of a "he said she said" kind of thing. If Bill responds, "I understood that you would take care of that," all you have to do is respond back, "That was incorrect - please get me those pictures by EOD." If he drops by for a chat instead of emailing, loop it back into email - "As per our second discussion, I am still expecting those pictures by EOD today." – Wayne Werner Oct 3 at 20:35
  • @Kelnos: Bill is given daily emails (all of my team is) about the goings on of the department. The content of the email is discussed with everyone beforehand. I'm not sure how much clearer I can be with Bill. – Metalgearmaycry Oct 4 at 2:29
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    @Metalgearmaycry It's not about just about making it clear to him. The point is to create a trail of evidence that he's intentionally refusing to follow your instructions. It's disappointing that this is necessary but it seems to be where you are. – AffableAmbler Oct 4 at 3:14
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    It also adds a certain passive-aggressive snark (perfectly suited to this kind of situation) that should help hammer home to Bill that his current approach to handling said information is wrong. It's not just about delivering the information again: it's about reinforcing the surrounding context. – Lightness Races with Monica Oct 5 at 13:01
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You've been supplanted: you should start looking for a new position as soon as possible. Your boss thinks Bill is better at your job than you are. And, given that you're posting here about how to deal with it, he may have a point.

As a team leader/manager, one should be able to deal with one's team effectively. I'm assuming you're not in the forces where rank is to be obeyed, so in order to manage, you do need to earn respect. Many of us have been in the position of 'knowing' our immediate boss is less competent than we think we are, and some of that number will have worked to demonstrate this to senior management. There's nothing inherently wrong with doing this, it's a way to get ahead. I can sympathize with your upset, but really all that's happening is that someone's doing a better job than you.

You don't have Bill's respect and he's showing the boss that he can do not only your role-defined job, but all the things that the boss would like to see done, too - for example finding out about the involvement of other departments with various clients. If you had thought of doing that, and it enhanced efficiency or improved client relations, the boss would be happy with you, too.

If you really want to stay working for this outfit, take note of what Bill's doing (and how), and start doing the same stuff, only better. Then think of other ways you can improve stuff.

And stop complaining to the boss, he obviously doesn't care and it makes you look petty in his eyes. Rightly or wrongly (personally I think he's in the wrong here), it's his company and he'll do what he wants.

UPDATE

Perhaps you need to approach this from a different angle. Based on your comments in other answers, it seems that while your boss appreciates Bill's efforts in certain parts of your current area of responsibility, he does value what you're doing.

It might be that you, Bill and the CEO need to sit down together and work out new definitions for your roles. Organisations can (and should) change and adapt over time as situations change. You haven't gone into details about what your role is, but based on comments you've made, it would appear that Bill is better at interpersonal relations than you. So, maybe let Bill banter with the construction crew and sweet-talk accounts - make that part of his defined role - while you continue with your office-based role and see what else you usefully take under your purview. Perhaps he should no longer report to you but directly to the CEO (it's the de-facto position anyway!).

You should probably consider the larger picture, too; whilst you are annoyed by Bill's apparent lack of respect for you and your position is he, nevertheless, advancing the company's position? The company, as a whole, doesn't care that you're peeved by his behaviour as long as the company's interests are still being served. Rather than trying to 'bring him into line' you should be trying to see how to make the best use both your talents.

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    The issue is that Bill is in fact not doing my role-defined job. I have talked to him about doing "things I do" (which some of them are really what Bill needs to be doing) and he has said point blank "No, you can do that." The other issue is that everything Bill is doing (going to other departments, etc.), I am in fact doing and have thought of doing and have done (because it is my job), and CEO is aware. I have told Bill "you don't need to worry about that", and "That's my wheelhouse, I need you to focus on [Task]." But then he is right back at it. – Metalgearmaycry Oct 4 at 2:37
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    .Metalgearmaycry - I would suggest taking the advice of @kelnos . Document everything. "That's my wheelhouse, I need you to focus on [Task]." goes in an email. Also, consider the possibility that your boss may be trying to edge you out because of your health issues, but can't do it directly because of the ADA. That's another reason to document everything, including your discussions with your boss. Consider this all a legally threatening situation and that at some point you may have to sue. – Diagon Oct 4 at 5:14
  • "And stop complaining to the boss" - it's OK to complain to the boss about his lack of support, but not about a disrespectful report - that's your job as manager. Only go to the boss about that when you've decided to fire Bill, and have enough evidence. – Robin Bennett Oct 4 at 11:48
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    I'm pretty sure Bob was brought in to replace you. Really the best and easiest response is to look for a new job and think of the current job as a way to prevent a big gap in your income in the meantime. – catfood Oct 4 at 19:22
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    @Catfood, I'm not sure the original intent was to replace OP, but it does seem that this is the current situation. – Chris the Hairy One Oct 6 at 15:00
22

I spoke to our CEO about this issue, and he did not seem supportive at all. I told CEO that I felt Bill was stepping on my toes and needed to stay in his lane, both as his job description and an employee. He seemed dismissive of the whole issue "Don't let it bother you", "People will have different personalities, and you can't help that", and with advice to "just communicate with him" and "be patient"

I agree that CEO does not seem supportive. It's likely that the CEO sees Bill as someone that's stepping up in your absence and your reporting of Bill's overstepping could be seen as insecurity in your own position. It's hard to which is the truth in the CEO's eyes.

I would focus more Bill's failure to meet deadline:

Taking the time to 'check on the guys and see how they are doing' when that is not his responsibility and he honestly should not have time for it with his workload (which is always late).

You mentioned that Bill delivers quality work, but not on time. Document the task and failure to meet the deadline. Give Bill feedback on the failure to meet the deadline. If the penalty for failing to meet the deadline is severe (such as losing a key customer), document your communication with Bill reminding him of the deadline and the urgency of the task, then escalate to CEO if you see the task is at risk.

The reason why you should focus on Bill's failure to meet deadlines, because it's more a statement of fact than Bill's overstepping and the CEO wouldn't read it as jealousy.

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    This seems like this issue here : the OP has an subordinate doing what they want instead of what they should be focused on. Don't make this a personality issue : it's a question of meeting expected goals and work focus. – StephenG Oct 4 at 0:48
  • I almost wrote the same answer! But I disagree on the dropping focus on the CEO part. OP needs to properly explain exactly what the problem of OP jumping straight to CEO is. Explain that it's harder for OP to keep track of Bill's progress. Explain that he's wasting time of the CEO (=$$) when he could ask Bill. Explain that Bill isn't finishing on time Explain that it leads to Bill holding information that OP needs, but doesn't get delivered. Read up on why the chain-of-command is important for more examples – Mars Oct 4 at 0:53
  • A lits of simply Bill's failures still seems like it would come across as jealousy. I think it needs to be more of the effects of his behavior on others. – Mars Oct 4 at 0:55
  • But at the same time, this sounds like a small business and Bill wears a lot of hats. It's likely that the CEO doesn't mind the chaos, recognizes the positive qualities and intends to make use of them – Mars Oct 4 at 0:56
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You should get rid of Bill, if it's in your power to do so on your own decision, or look for another position for yourself if you can't.

Bill sounds not so much as the 10x employee, like some comments here say, but more like Wally (from the comics strip Dilbert): someone who's good at making a lot of fuss; making it look like he's a model employee, while in actuality, being lazy; bad for team spirits; disrespectful; doing work that he shouldn't be doing instead of the work he needs to do and, to top it off, being a good enough actor that he made the "pointy-haired boss" believe he is better at your job then you are, so musch so that the CEO said what you quoted him saying to Bill while your in the same room.

Actually, in light of that last point (and after going around this thread reading your comments about your relationship with the CEO), you should start by looking for a new position for yourself, and only if that doesn't pan out, "take care" of Bill.
Your CEO sounds exactly like the guy to be impressed by false bravado of Bill/Wally types.

If you want to "take care" of Bill, others have told you how exactly so I won't repeat.

I would add that another tool, aside from (electronic) paper-trail is the insinuated threat of dismissal (assuming, as I stated before, you have that power by yourself, at your discression).

Some other commenter here said you really should "earn" Bill's respect... I disagree.
While true, you're not in the armed forces, where rank is the beginning and end of all arguments, you are his superior.
Having his respect would be nice, it would show he understands and values what you must have done and acheived to get to where you are today: being his boss.
But it's not mandatory!

I have had the misfortune of working for people I didn't respect or appreciate.
I did my job, did only my job, and did my job to the best of my abilities.
Wanna know why? Not because I respected my superiors and thougt they knew better than me because they had more information and abilities than I have. Oh no.
I did it because I needed the job and it was in their sole power to dismiss me had I not done my job, on the best side, not being a Bill/Wally.

In a perfect world, it is Bill, not you, who should look out for a place where he can respect his superior, feeling he's being utilized correctly.
I suspect such a place never will exist since Bill probably also has a very high opionio of himself (hence his talking back, disrespect and going over your head... he's superman, capable of running the entire company alone.. when he's not slacking and doing anything other than his job that it).

But we're not living in a perfect world, you not only not have your boss's support, it sounds your boss disrespects you as well and your very own Wally made it a point of becoming you (probably he thinks in your position he can do even less actual work, while blaming subordinates for slacking, and have better leverage for his next conquest).

Get out, now, and let the CEO find out exactly how much can Bill actually get done, once your "lazy ass" will be gone.

2

Please ask yourself what do you have to contribute to the whole operation, given what your colleague has already taken responsibility for, and given the sourness you already brought in the relationship with your thoughts and words. Sometimes you are just redundant, trying to stomp somebody "in their place" is not going to save you.

In fact, trying to stomp over goood performers in the company is just speeding up your own demise at your current position, or possibly any possition at that company.

1

I can see myself as being the 'Bill' guy. I did not think my boss was of much value, if not even decreasing it.

He would meet at 11 am, after most time-critical tasks were over. He did ask me if I was happy with that arrangement, but I did not say no since I felt I would impose a standard on him.

He would waste time with monologues or pointless meetings. He would waste support customers time with long excuses, whereas I would just dig into the issue and fix it. I really questioned his value.

I'm not saying that you are this type of person or in this situation at all, I'm just trying to give you a sense of how 'Bill' might think.

So maybe Bill also has a bullet list of things he thinks you are not doing well. Maybe he's even made another post on SO about his "useless" boss.

As others have pointed out, the issue is not you or Bill, it's the CEO. He even tells you not to talk with Bill about it. It's obvious Bill has some behaviour going on that displays not being content, which in turn makes you not content.

The CEO is trying to see if he can get away with this easily by making you reflect on things, hoping the issue will magically disappear.

I would suggest telling your CEO that you still feel annoyed by this issue.

If your CEO still doesn't want to initiate any kind of discussion with Bill, then it's probably best to start putting your CV out there. If the CEO can't take care of a conflict like this, I don't think it's worth staying there.

  • CEO is very much not about confrontation or 'feelings' or HR issues. He did not seem concerned with the issue with Bill and I, and telling me to be 'patient' and not to talk to Bill is his way of just wishing the problem away because he doesn't want to deal with it. – Metalgearmaycry Oct 4 at 2:43
  • To add, I have on several occasions talked to Bill about things I could be doing differently or better or to help him, and have always kept an open door. Bill has always said that he is fine with the way things are. – Metalgearmaycry Oct 4 at 2:54
  • @Metalgearmaycry - sounds good that you are talking to him about it. However, if I were Bill I might feel it were pointless to point these issues out to my boss. I did mention to my boss a couple of times that he would talk/monologue, but it did not have any effect. Regardless if that's the situation or not, you need to tell your boss again to mitigate this issue. If he refuses, as other's have said, it's probably best to look for a new job because of poor management. – Hylle Oct 4 at 10:37
  • @Metalgearmaycry if you still think you're somehow right you should really start looking for a new job, preferably not in a management position. Business takes priority over "lanes" and "meetings", and if someone is taking better care of business they deserve your job – user19202 Oct 4 at 22:21

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