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I am an assistant manager reporting to the head of department as well as some executive officers on some projects, and broadly manage all the execution and operations as well as make some strategic level decisions. I am responsible for consolidating product and ideas of the team reporting to us and act as a middle man between management and them.

I have a nagging problem: one of our best employees does a lot to compete against me, e.g. by belittling me openly on the tiniest matters, telling ideas directly to the boss rather than discussing with me, showing his worth to everyone in the company but bypassing me. I can't help feeling that he is trying to compete against me rather than respecting my authority.

And since he is good technically, I do feel bad and sometimes even threatened. I sometimes would like to just leave.

How can I take the higher ground in this kind of scenarios?

  • why you do think he is exhibiting those behavior ? Why are you feeling threatened ? – the_reluctant_tester Mar 31 '14 at 23:59
  • Dwight? Is that you? – Garrison Neely Apr 1 '14 at 0:13
  • the reluctant tester, I just think he is trying to climb the ladder and eliminate me in the process. Garrison, no, and I'm also a woman. – LizaH84 Apr 1 '14 at 0:17
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    Is the employee supposed to report to you per your org chart? – kolossus Apr 1 '14 at 2:33
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    Just do the best job you can, while he spends his time paying games. Never hide anything from the people above your, so that you are not fearful of what he may say, the more open you are the less power he has. – Ian Apr 1 '14 at 8:51
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The first thing you can do for yourself is have confidence in your capabilities - your superiors put you in your position of authority because they believe that you can do the job, and my first impression of you is that your clear eyed description of your responsibilities speaks well for you. I also like the fact that while you are unhappy with your subordinate's behavior, you are also bending backward to describe him as "one of our best employees". You'd like to "just leave" but I'd be sorry to see you leave on his account: if he treats you this way as a manager, it's not a huge extrapolation to just think what he could do to your other subordinates were he in your position. The impression that you are giving me is that you are a capable manager and a decent person but that you need to believe that you are worth fighting for.

I suggest that you set up a confidential appointment with HR to discuss the situation and explore the options that are open with you in dealing with him. You also need to talk to your boss and tell your boss that your subordinate's behavior makes him hard to manage. Your subordinate seems to be smart enough to play games. Conversely, I expect him to stop playing games once he is exposed as playing games.

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I think you need to address this from the perspective of the company & team and not make it about you.

Is there a policy that all of these things have to go through you? Most bosses don't want a bunch of different people presenting suggestions to them, so they have someone like you to manage and pull all this together. It seems your boss is encouraging this person to come directly to him. Maybe the boss is a nice guy and has an open door policy and won't say no. Talk to him about it. You could be doing him a favor by getting this person to stop.

Ask this person why they don't come to you. Do they see it as inefficient? Is there a history where you don't take this person's suggestions? Maybe he doesn't like you? Be willing to work with the person, but let him know that everything must come through you; leave the boss alone. You are responsible for tracking all of this and going behind your back makes your job harder.

Many times when people are very good technically they get away with not following procedures. If you can't get buy-in from the upper management, at least you have made them aware how this negatively affects your job performance.

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