There are one or two similar questions here, I am sure, but I feel my situation might be quite specific in that I have no disciplinary authority over this person, yet I manage him. The other difference is that I personally take no offense, but since his work involves a lot of formal and informal communication across the business I am now concerned that he is spreading bad ideas about me (which is not good for my perceived performance/visibility/politics/etc). The solution might therefore have to be a political and informal approach.
The background situation is that I was promoted and manage the work of my former peers, yet our former manager still has the final say on overall direction and owns all line reporting duties. You could say that he still heads the team, but I run and implement its objectives and strategies.
The team is very close-knit, yet this problem person always seems to want to prove that he is one step ahead of me. That brings some good problem-solving and idea-sharing, but his intentions don't seem pure i.e. he singles me out and responds to nearly 99% of what I say with joking sarcasm to stern aggressive disagreement.
And if I agree with him, he advertises that as his own intellectual victory over me (including remarks like "There you have it, I am always right!" or "In your face!") :-(
Since he is also very good at work I have always put the team/business interests first and put him on paths that gave him many opportunities to grow and shine, defended him from other managers sometimes and helped him overcome stumbling blocks.
I think he recognizes this and I personally feel that I have done a really good job managing his growth and motivation... but for some reason he still seems to think he is competing against me and constantly makes joking remarks to belittle or discredit me.
A few more examples of his style:
- "Who ordered us to follow procedure A? Ha, and now we are doing B and it completely shows how A was complete nonsense!"
- "I did procedure X and I am completely successful! Obviously, he (pointing at me) is going to pat himself on the back because he suggested it and delegated it to me, but I had to do all the dirty work myself!"
I am honestly not too annoyed by these remarks, but now that he speaks with more and more senior managers across the company, I am concerned that they might not get the full picture of the situation.
Considering that I cannot change him, what can I do about this in terms of guarding my image across the company?