I'm the Team Lead of a company. Recently the manager decided to hire a new coworker as performance tester (against mine and some colleagues' opinions that he wouldn't fit the team). From his CV seems that he has an "extensive knowledge of different software that we use daily (including updates, user adds, management of its systems, and its projects), automation, installation and configuration of this software, the OS we use, and networking".

A few times, in the beginning, I noticed that he tried to stab me in the back, trying to come out as someone with a better knowledge and experience than mine (one time he said "I've worked longer than you so I know better", talking about how the manager replied to an e-mail, even if I work with my manager from 2 years and he just started).

It got worse when I found him on the internet, searching for articles on how to work with the software we hired him for.

All of us were (and still are) ready to help without problems, but this new colleague doesn't ask for help, doesn't admit his lack of knowledge, searches on Google and then turns around playing like he is the expert on that topic at the moment.

This makes me really angry, and my last two months at work have been really stressful, even trying to calm down doesn't help much, and I'm now at the point where I'm not wanting to go to work, just not to see him and listen to his lies and arrogance.

I've already spoken to the manager twice about this, in a calm and professional way, highlighting my concerns, about him not asking for help, but hiding behind google. My manager told me that maybe "he gave him things to do that are outside his knowledge, and that I should give him another opportunity and answer his questions". I've tried this many times, but he always says he knows, that he already worked on that hardware or software, even if you can clearly see that he doesn't know where to put his hands, and I found him issuing incorrect commands and creating problems on our (test) systems.

I'm gonna explode. Fortunately, a few colleagues have picked up this guy's ineptitude.

Is anybody that could help me with this?

Thank you all for the time spent reading this and for any help!

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You seem too concerned with what he knows or not and his behavior.

He is a performance tester. Load him up with tests and report his performance.

Put the request in writing and demand a report in writing.

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    I've already done it, he just keeps searching for documents online, and copy/paste what's written inside (We've asked him about a performance plan for a test, he wrote a very general one, took him 2 weeks to write it, and was plainly a copy/paste of few standard documents with the name of the customer, or the software, changed) – AmonDj Mar 16 '17 at 17:39
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    Get him to perform his job - run the test. Take the report and how long he spent on the report to your boss. – paparazzo Mar 16 '17 at 18:50

So the biggest thing that you need to work on is your attitude towards this situation. I accept that you're upset because this person was hired against your advice. However, you are now their leader, by your superior's orders, and your duty is to lead this man.

How can you better lead?

Own your feelings and self-talk.

You do something you're entitled to do, but which your coworker does not like. Maybe it's as simple as saying "hey, we're not going to use Haskell for this project, I do not want to hear any more debate, this is the end of that discussion." Maybe someone tells you in response, "That's so undemocratic and evil, in some ways I really like you as a boss but you can be really awful too." How are you going to handle your duty to keep leading this person when your personal feelings are affected by this insult?

Nobody can make you feel any particular way. We receive as part of our culture the "wisdom" that our feelings are out of our control, and maybe in some extreme circumstances (e.g. death of family) that is true: but in the more typical and average case, it takes two to tango. You have a very important part of both interpreting and assigning value to these statements, and you determine your internal monologue and what you tell yourself about it. You might for example say "Oh my goodness what's wrong with me, that my subordinate says this?!" or "He must be having an off day, I hope things are all right at home" or even "Sounds like I'm doing something right." I'm not saying any of these are "correct" but just that to be an effective team lead, you must recognize that you have this freedom.

If you do not choose the "I am outraged that this person would say that!" self-talk, you can have a much more mature discussion about why they feel that way. You can say "I didn't realize that this was so important to you and I wanted to understand what is missing here, did you want the fancy new language because you wanted to satisfy a natural human need for learning new things and being curious and having a chance to explore? Or do you feel like I should have delegated the decision to you because you are closer to the project? Or what?" and then invite them to share, not why you should change your mind, but why they were so upset about your decisiveness in making this choice. And then once they know that you've heard their basic needs, you can respond with your own, "I understand all of that and I'm deeply sympathetic, I don't like my boss making these decisions for me either, but I also have an overriding company-need, which is that we need to be able to keep this software development going if you get struck by lightning tomorrow. It's not a hugely likely circumstance but I tend to be a bit risk-averse with our tech choices and I want that to extend to this project, too. Are there other ways I can help you keep learning new things, other than by this choice of new programming language?"

Make particular observations.

This also gets down to being mindful of the language we use to describe things to ourselves. If you think about anthropologists and doctors and other sciencey folk who have to watch people, they often talk in these "clinical descriptions" where they say what literally happened, trying as much as possible to not interpret it one way or another or give a false generalization. So you don't say "He's so irresponsible, he never shows up on time!" but "This week when I looked out at 9:00am I only saw him at his desk once, typically he walks in around 9:05 - 9:10." This is actually a very powerful tool for a leader to master. It's, first off, very important for you to talk to yourself with these terms, because it will cover your ass some day when you would have otherwise blown up at a colleague over a misunderstanding. You can just imagine the situation:

You: "Pat, where is the billing information for Foo? I hate this. You always rearrange these Project Xanadu files and I can never find the one I want! Why can't you just leave things the way they are?!"

Suppose Pat's been working on a different project all along, hasn't touched those things in weeks, and you actually dropped it behind your desk. You owe him/her an apology and some soul-searching. Compare that with saying the same thing as specific observations of specific past actions without any judgment or evaluation about whether those things were good or bad: "Pat, I was wondering if you've done anything with the Xanadu files recently? I know that you've reorganized them a few times in the past, and I had the Weston billing file out recently, and now I cannot find it." No embarrassment.

But it's more than that. Generalizations are very hard to work on, if you're trying to self-correct. If your significant other says "you never listen!" that is much harder to correct than "whenever I ask you a question and you're on your computer, you keep your eyes facing the computer. Sometimes you understand my question completely the first time I ask it, but the last two or three times your reply was 'sorry, could you repeat that?' and I need to repeat my question again." Now you can probably come up with several solutions, like, "Maybe you can ask me for my attention when I'm at my computer, then I may say 'give me just a sec', then I will finish whatever I'm doing and turn and face you and give you my undivided attention."

Your team members will have the same experience. A pure observation of seen behavior without implied judgment or generalization, becomes something that you can act upon. If your speech in a performance review begins "Obviously my first problem is your messiness," that is much more difficult to correct than "I have noticed that you have a lot of notes and papers on your desk, many are no longer related to whatever you're working on right now. That's difficult for me because I want to give you latitude to do whatever helps you work, but I also value a visually uncluttered workplace, it helps us colleagues think clearer." The first one, your teammate is grumbling about you after a while, "my boss is such a neat freak!" and the second one, your teammate in the performance review might say "well it is hard for me to organize, but since these are just my personal notes, do you mind if I just put them in a disorganized folder in my filing cabinet?" or whatever.

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  • Thank you very much @CR Dost, this was the type of answer I was looking for, more of an help, a suggestion on how should I move, more than finding out who's right or who's wrong. The problem here is that this new guy is 10 years older than me, and anything we speak he says "I'm older than you, so I know more" or "I worked longer than you, so I know better" (even if he doesn't know my past and my experiences), I'm holding my emotions and my feelings when around, and just keep everything professional, and sometimes is really hard, because he comes with those phrases and his arrogance – AmonDj Mar 16 '17 at 21:41
  • He is not a team player, mostly absent from any team discussion, he never speaks in a meeting, nor gives his idea; you might say "he just started, so he is learning", this is true until the meeting ends, he goes back to his laptop, does some research, and sends an e-mail saying what we should do "because he knows better". And could be that he just searched for some confirmation of his thought, I can accept it, but not when you copy/paste his e-mail to google and find another website with exactly the same e-mail in, and even for this, there might be some technical e-mail that is similar – AmonDj Mar 16 '17 at 21:45
  • But then, when asked some more deep question, that requires knowledge and experience of that technical part, and he doesn't have google with him, he avoids the question, or just keeps repeating what he wrote in the e-mail, until he is back to his laptop and things changes again, and is just going on in a loop, if he has google he is an expert, if he doesn't he stays in silence. Unfortunately, after seeing him playing on the administration page of a production system without asking if he could, with a "learn this software in 7 days" PDF opened next to him, I have big fears – AmonDj Mar 16 '17 at 21:48
  • I said as advice, "Stop generalizing, and stop speaking as if your colleague is bad. When you do this, you work at cross-purposes to the purpose of leadership." You responded to that comment, "anything we speak he says" (generalization!) and "his arrogance" (value judgment!) and "he is not a team player" (value judgment!) and "mostly absent ... never speaks" (generalization!). Truly these are hard habits to unlearn! But you must unlearn them. – CR Drost Mar 17 '17 at 15:11
  • If your goal is effective leadership, your response to fears should not be to direct anger at your teammate. You have some strategy for recovering for a screwed up production machine, even if that is something problematic like "panic and tell our clients that we have no backups and the business fails." If you have fears about your teammate working on production, the "good leadership" way to handle those fears is to say, "Oh: I have these fears, because I'm not confident in our recovery strategy. How can I improve our recovery strategy or communicate that we don't have one to my teammate?" – CR Drost Mar 17 '17 at 15:15

Your manager (or HR, if you have one) is the only person who can take any action. Maybe this person has been recruited at a lower level/lower salary, and his experience reflects this.

The ultimate question is, is he able to do his job? If not, that will be impacting delivery dates - in which case you can have a post-mortem after an implementation, and as the question openly, why did we miss the date. If this person is the blocker, then that will be documented. Once that has been noted over several cycles, the noise from the team will get louder and louder.

You also say that you are answering his questions. Make a log of that, for the benefit of your boss. Also note whether it's a simple, medium or advanced question that you have to answer. At the appropriate time, you'll have logs for your manager.

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  • Unfortunately this person has been hired as "Senior Performance Tester" and the manager wants to give him admin access on all the systems that I'm managing to take the "IT Technician" work off my shoulder and let me do just the Team Leader (I'm so covered in work that I usually work 12/15hours a day). Unfortunately our is a special team, each person is an expert on a functionality or specific part of the software, and we do interact, but not on the "performance testing", because the rest of the team is concentrated on their own part of the software. – AmonDj Mar 16 '17 at 17:36
  • I'd be delighted to have someone who could take some work off my shoulders, especially because I'm spending lots of my time doing the "IT Technician" work (fixing problems on the servers and the software we use for testing, more than organizing the team and its testing projects, and do my testing), but I can't trust him to do this job, if he doesn't have the knowledge for it. He has already done a mistake with a sister company, and guess what? It came back to me! Every time I'm asking him for some work he replies with "oh there is time for it, why now", "I can do it, but I'm not certified" – AmonDj Mar 16 '17 at 17:38
  • The only questions he does are about our software (developed in house) and is understandable, is not something you find on the outside (yet hehe), but for the rest he doesn't ask for anything. I've asked him to kill a process on the linux system, he searched on google "how to kill a process in linux" and kept issuing the wrong command (and I've explained and showed him the command 10 times counted), when I asked him why he was issuing that command he said "oh on Unix is different" (he was using "kill" instead of "pkill" on a process name) – AmonDj Mar 16 '17 at 17:43
  • @AmonDj And what did you do when you saw he was using the wrong command? Did you help him? – Brandin Mar 16 '17 at 19:53
  • I've asked him why he was using that command, and I've asked him if he needed any help, he said "no, I know how to work on this", and issued again the wrong command, so I told him "wait, the command you are using is for the process id, do you remember which one is the right command? We went through it together yesterday" he was in silence, so I told him "the command you are looking for is pkill" and explained him the difference, with him replying "oh, on Unix is different" – AmonDj Mar 16 '17 at 21:53

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