I am a manager in two person office in Asia Pacific (APAC), which is part of a global company that has offices all around the world. I recruited another person so that in my absence support could be handled.

Let me tell you what happend; kindly let me know if I have to correct myself.

Let me call the newly recruited person GA. GA has a decade experience in supporting applications. When I was giving knowledge transfer, not a single question was asked by this person in the first month. Whatever task I gave him his work was not satisfactory or up to the standard.

The only thing he asked me in the first couple of months was why should he login at 8am whereas people in UK login at 9am. Since ours is a follow the sun model, there is no handover from US to APAC; we don't have choice but to support early. He did not understand this. Another question he asked me was will there be internal transfer to other places. Please note he is yet to establish that he is a good recruit and has nothing solid so far as results.

Second month passed, I was trying to explain a simple Y/N flag: if Y means consider the data, N means do not consider the data. He did not understand such simple logic. I gave so many examples to explain the same. Still he needed two hours to understand.

After this, I told him that he needs to step up, as there are many complicated items, how can I explain such a basic concept for two hours. He took it personally and said I should improve my communication skills. (He does not have superior communication skills either. I always wanted a personal attachment to a person with whom I work; this incident shattered everything). After that I had to raise my voice against him.

Then relationship turned bad. I reported this to my manager and my manager told me to apologize for raising my voice. I also apologized for the same.

So far he has improved only slowly, argues for everything, and either goes aggresive or defensive.

Support wise he is still not up to my expectations.

Apart from minor items or repetitive tasks, solving any major production issue is beyond him. Now he has become slightly confident of tasks he is advising me on what I should do.

Due to his attitude, at times I loose my control. That is my problem. My manager is asking me to talk to him neutral way, but GA is thinking he owns the office and he can do a better job than me (he is still not competent in Java/Python/C#) and has rarely solved any major issue, except for rerunning of jobs without understanding why it is required.

A couple of times I have heard, "Do not argue with a fool. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.".

My manager thinks if GA is taking things personally, then issue is with me.

How should I handle this guy? My manager is in the US, so how can I convince my manager that GA is incompetent?

Please note that I am new manager, I am willing to correct myself if I am wrong.


Here is an update , I had followed @djclayworth advice. My manager has asked GA to directly report to him. but I have to manage the APAC office , so tasks will be still managed by me.

Also i agree with few people here, I had probably wanted to good emotional attachment initally ,but his incompetency and tit-for-tat words tore the relationship completely (Without improving his work).

Here is what i feel:

  1. Management does not want to loose both people here.
  2. Since they feel , I am slighlty micro-managing (based on what I interpreted with my manager words) , they want to stay away from him, but get work delivered.
  3. I see GA , now slightly proactive , staying late and work , asking for more help , working on weekend to support EOD activity , showing improved focus.

Now going foreward , what should be my action, I feel, i should just continue to do my duty, I also feel GA wants to take revenge on me. (His actions is like that)

  • 3
    What do GA, APAC and KT stand for please? Jan 20, 2023 at 11:34
  • 9
    This question sounds like a rant. The biggest problem here is "I had to raise my voice". Never shout in the workplace. Never.
    – jwsc
    Jan 20, 2023 at 11:37
  • 1
    Yes @keshlam, we are from same country , but our culture and native language is different.
    – JSP
    Jan 20, 2023 at 13:48
  • 5
    I'm a native English speaker, and I found your question hard to understand in places. Jan 20, 2023 at 14:54
  • 2
    Is GA from a culture that does not ask questions? Is GA from a culture that responds with "Yes" when asked whether he understands, because that is the polite and face-saving answer?
    – shoover
    Jan 20, 2023 at 17:14

7 Answers 7


I'll add my perspective on this. I see a number of "red flags" in the things you have written:

...it is not satisfactory , upto the standard.

After this, I told he needs to step up...

Support wise he is still not upto my expectations

Here are the issues:

  1. Have you clearly and explicitly explained the "standard". Just because you have an idea of what it is in your head, doesn't mean that your employee knows or understands it. This is not "do a good job" but rather specific behaviors and outcomes that meet the standard.

  2. Does he know what "step up" means. As with the first point, this may be quite clear to you but not to the employee. Never use words like "step up". Instead say things like: "respond to tickets within 15 minutes", "if you can't resolve the issue within 30 minutes, escalate to the next level", "document your actions in the systems immediately", etc. Never assume someone knows what you want.

  3. Does this employee know what your expectations are? Consider "be on time" vs. "I expect you to be here ready to start at 8:00 am Monday through Friday and to let me know by 7:30 am if you have a problem and will not make it."

While there is the possibility that this employee just doesn't get it and may never do so but based on what you've written, I think the first problem is you and your assumptions.

Note that there are many employees that don't need such explicit instructions but clearly this one is not of that caliber. But that doesn't mean that he's a lost cause just yet.

  • 1
    Thanks , I like your answer , it seems to make sense, I was under the impression, when the person has a decade experience , most of things of should be told clearly.
    – JSP
    Jan 20, 2023 at 13:46
  • You've said there's a language and cultural difference. There may also be work culture differences between their past employers and your company. Making requirements / evaluation criteria explicit is usually a good idea. Obvious often isn't.
    – keshlam
    Jan 20, 2023 at 13:56
  • So you suggest to make things measurable. "Have you responded in 15 minutes? Y/N" "Have you started at 8:00 this morning? Y/N" Jan 21, 2023 at 7:22
  • Of course. If you have certain expectations then you need to communicate them. Simply saying "we start early here" or "I expect prompt responses" are quite ambiguous. Rather say "we start promptly at 8:00 AM" or "our standard of service requires 15 minute response". I hope you can see the difference.
    – jwh20
    Jan 21, 2023 at 13:13

It seems you are very emotional about this team member. Please take a step back and consider the situation professionally. Someone being a slow learner may be annoying, but it is not something where you "had to raise my voice". Never shout in the workplace. Ever.

Don't be surprised that your team member took your annoyance personally. You basically told him he is stupid. Listen to people if they tell you your communication is not clear. Most probably this is the issue here. There are a lot of resources about clear communication. Use feedback questions, let the other person repeat in their own words, make sure you talk about the same thing...

I think your question shouldn't be "How can I convince my manager that this person is incompetent". It should be "how can I help that person to get up to speed". Unfortunately you already have alienated that team member to a point where working with him will be difficult. Apologizing and trying to restart the relationship, like your manager already suggested, seems to be the best option now.

  • If you can't step back and reset, you may want to consider asking your manager whether someone else could handle this individual for a while.
    – keshlam
    Jan 20, 2023 at 13:45

Your relationship with this employee has clearly broken down. The other answers give good advice, but I would add something.

Get your boss to have a long conversation with GA.

Give your boss a detailed and objective list of things that you believe GA can't do; of specific cases where he did the wrong thing; of concepts that he doesn't understand; and any other places where GA falls short of the standard you expect. Have your boss talk to GA about this and establish whether this is a communication issue or whether GA is really incompetent, or something else. This assumes that your boss is fluent in GA's native language.

You need to be careful of this because this is an admission to your boss that you can't do your job as a manager. A good manager should be able to sort this out. But you are new to management and it's expected that you will have some problems doing the job at the start. Your boss will then be able to form his own opinion as to what the problem is.


This on you

You say you are the manager of this person. However,

not a single question asked by this person in first month. whatever task I gave him , it is not satisfactory , upto the standard.

The time to correct behavior is the first time it happens, not the 20th time.

Accountability Loop

You hold a person accountable for their performance through:

  1. Set Expectations
  2. Observe Results
  3. Follow up with praise or correction
  4. Start again.

If you can't do 1-4 without becoming emotional, you need training on being a manager.

  • Thanks and noted. This is what I had been trying , but he a big mouth like when he needs to 2 hours to understand a simple Y/N , and talks bluntly like I need to improve my communications
    – JSP
    Jan 20, 2023 at 17:07

In what language are you communicating with this employee?

Based on this question, your communication skills in English are not very good, and certainly far inferior to where you believe them to be. In the original question (version 1 before any edits), you have many word choice errors, many sentences that kind of make no sense in English, and many grammar errors (not including a few spelling errors). If English is the language you are communicating in, I can understand why your employee is unable to understand you, because I have a lot of experience in talking to people who speak ESL and I still have trouble understanding you. If your employee isn't used to dealing with a speaker of English as a Second Language then I can understand why he has trouble understanding you, especially if his first language is also not English.

If this is the problem, I would encourage you to get some remedial assistance in communicating in English, and if your employee is also a speaker of ESL then maybe he can be enrolled in the same program.


There is angle not touched on by other answers which is quite common in Pacific/Asia.

Expand your workforce. If you're not getting the work done, you can ask for more people. This chap is already testing the limits of discipline and finding none. If you cannot outright get rid of them you may be able to expand. Even if you don't then the overseas manager still needs the work done and will look more closely at making that happen.

Lastly asking your overseas manager when you're a manager yourself makes you look ineffectual to work on your own, which isn't great, it's always best to handle your locale in house. Generally local managers are hired because they can handle the locals well.


A different perspective on this problem might be that you're either:

  • suffering an irreconcilable personality conflict; or
  • your job isn't as easy to delegate as you think it is.

I've been in at least one situation before where a principal has completely failed to grasp how complicated their job is, or how underwhelming their ability is to think and speak clearly about how their job is performed.

And when work relationships turn bad from the outset, stress erodes both people's ability to learn a new role, and undermines their willingness and eagerness to learn due to questioning whether they will remain in the position for long.

If you have the authority to do so, my advice would be to approach your subordinate and ask him to seek another role and then resign sometime within the next several weeks. You seem to think he is already seeking internal transfer, so it shouldn't be difficult to gain his cooperation in moving on.

Rather than trying to establish his incompetence or place blame, simply concede the fact that the relationship has broken down irretrievably. Acknowledge to yourself that there is real possibility that the fault is on your part.

Alternatively, if you have to seek the approval of your own manager, make the same point that the relationship is beyond repair, and be frank that your subordinate is not now in a position to contribute anything useful.

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