I am a manager in a software company managing about 30 people across multiple teams. I have 3 team leads in each section reporting to me.
One of the team leads — lets call her Linda — is a very capable and hard-working worker, but she is extremely sensitive and can be very manipulative. She has been with the company for a while, since there were only few people in my department; therefore, she knows the history and is used to working in her own way. Over the past few years the company has doubled its size and is going through a change; before there were only a few projects, but we are now working on dozens of projects and starting to struggle meeting the deadlines, and things are slipping.
My managers are obviously asking me to get things under control and initiate new ways to manage projects more efficiently, as we are in constant fire-fighting mode and can’t keep up with the requests. Almost every single project she is managing is delayed and there is no way for me to plan ahead; I can only see what’s happening this week and maybe next week.
I have started small and initiated some change, but for almost all of the change I have to fight with Linda to get her to accept the change, and these are not even major things. For every new idea to improve planning and delivery I get an objection such as “we have always been working like this, what’s the point of this new tool, why do we have to fill in these tools, I’d rather get on with my work, etc.” And when the tool is in place, she is not using it effectively and manipulating people in her team to undermine the tool. As a team lead I expect her to initiate use of these new tools, but she is quite happy with the status quo. Saying “if you don’t like this tool, can you please recommend me one you like, or tell me how do you think we can improve things here” didn’t work because she doesn’t believe there is problem — but at the same time she is constantly complaining that there is too much to be done.
Another main issue is that she believes everyone else in the other teams and departments are lazy and incompetent, and she is constantly criticising them. According to her, only her team is functioning, and everyone else is just plain useless.
I have talked with her several times and asked her to change her attitude but so far, not even once has she admitted she is wrong! She even once told me “I know I am 99% right, so why should I change”? And these talks are usually followed by moody periods in which she ceases verbal communication and it becomes really difficult for me to understand what’s going on with the projects and people in her team.
Another issue is that if she asks something and it’s not possible (such as pay-rise, promotion, training etc...) she explodes, and then stonewalling / silent treatment starts.
Recently I started to think I am fighting a losing battle. It looks like she is never going to change, and will keep poisoning people in her team as well, so I decided to have a one last talk with her to outline the issues, and really need to make her believe that her behaviour is unacceptable and if she does not change I am going to escalate things to HR.
I also believe if she changes she can be a really valuable member of the team but her attitude is ruining everything. I have already talked to her about the things I mentioned above and really tried several times. I am looking for new ideas here to make her believe that her behaviour is not acceptable anymore, and she needs to change her attitude. What should I tell her, or how can I demonstrate things are serious this time? Or do you think this is pointless and there is no need to try and I should just escalate it?