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I work for a med/large company and our IT dept has multiple teams. Desktop Support (helpdesk), Applications Team, and Infrastructure (systems, network, telecom). Each team has 1 manager and there is a director for our department. I am the Infrastructure team manager.
Recently, the desktop support manager has gone a bit overboard and has begun trying to go around me to start bossing around my team members. Mind you, this is not due to projects lagging behind, this is things like both of us sitting in the same meeting and a new telecom point came up and before the meeting was even done, he's already emailing orders and trying to assign tasks to my crew.
I have gone to my director to see if they are able to put a stop to this and was told that I have to have him stop.
Yes, I am fairly new to management but how am I, as this persons peer, to get him to stop trying to push into my team? My team is pulling their hair out because he keeps calling them directly demanding status reports for things he is not even in charge of. I'm going to try to meet with him soon but I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts that might help?
Thank you all!Edited Jun 29, 2020 at 18:22 UTC
Yeah, you can't have him undermining your credibility here. You HAVE to confront, and if he doesn't stop you have to follow up. Of course this assumes this guy isn't actually your boss. Tell your team that work orders come through you only, any requests outside of the proper chain aren't real, etc. IDK if that will fly in your org though...
One thing I used to do when I was a manager is to tell my team that if anyone ever asks you to do something, send them to me. They shouldn't have to be in the middle of that, and if someone needs something from my team, then they should be coming to me, every time.
Might not work in your situation. Sounds like this guy is actively trying for your job or something, so you need to have a talk with him and ask him what is up. Hard conversation though. Maybe you could start it out with "hey, is my team not meeting your needs in some way?" to disarm him, and see what his real gripes are, and then when you lay out some things you can do to help, make it very clear that he needs to come to you about problems and not bug your people.
This is always a tough crossroads when you come to this in any department in business. From what it sounds like he is a person that likes to push the boundaries of what his scope is. (For lack of a better term a bully) This is where you have to make the decision to let him do this or stand up for your team and yourself. I have run into this in my past. I meet this kind of thing 1 of 2 ways.
1. Head-on. Do not mince words and do not give him a way out because it is uncomfortable or he is being aggressive, be blunt. Once you tear that band-aid off you should see him either back-off or get more aggressive. You have to be prepared for both. If you meet him with equal intensity level you should be fine. Have your thoughts together before you meet with him. Write them down. Keep some notes while your with him. You have to keep your story straight and truthful. Do not let him push you around. I have a bit of a temper when it comes to these kinds of situations. I make sure I am calm when it starts and if it needs to escalate I make sure I have an out for that. So be sure you keep your cool, keep you words professional and if you need to call in your Director or HR. If he likes to be a he said he said person. This will cover you off.
2. Let him go which will push your team away, you will lose some creditability with your peers, subordinates and Upper management. It may not seem like anyone is watching, but they are. Your Director maybe testing you to see how you handle the situation. If the Director is not really going to help that can be an issue. Use common sense, keep it professional and never ever let it get personal from your side. If he goes there then he does. The thick skin will grow quickly. Look at this as a growing experience. The worst thing that can happen is he does not listen and you have to go over his head to get some help and direction for this guy. That is what you should rely on HR and your Director for. It is not easy the first time, but once its done it is easier the next time.
My response to anyone outside my group trying to assign me anything is always the same: "I would love to help you immediately, but I need both authorization from my manager, and a work order." If it came via email, I would always CC my boss and then go talk to him/her.
My advice would be for you to train that response into your staff, and explain that in order to ensure proper performance and documentation, they need to always deflect direct management requests through you, regardless of how easy it might be to complete the task.
First off, I agree with Suzanne: Inform your team to tell anyone requesting something from them to contact you - period. Make sure you tell the other manager the same.
Second, your director's job is to step in on situations like this if necessary. If after doing the above you see no improvement or the other manager gives you flack, go back to your director. He may be wanting you to try and resolve this between the two of you before entering the issue.
In all things, be honest, be direct, be professional.
I'll echo a lot of what was already said.
First, talk to your team and have them start adding you to any email that is sent to them. They don't have to be the "bad guy", you do (so to speak). I always tell my team members to inform me in a way where you're looking for my thumbs up before they proceed on anything that isn't already assigned to them (unless in the case of an emergency, of course). Sooner or later, they will get the drift of talking to you first.
At the same time, I'd also bring it to that manager's attention that they need to be going through you. This is where you get to flex those soft skills because, you don't necessarily want to do it in a way that is going to make an enemy of them... you already have enough headaches to deal with. Instead, simply let them know that you're always allocating work to your team and that if you don't know about it, they may not be able to get to it because they already have your tasks assigned to them. So, in an effort of some team collaboration, you'd like for him to send it to you so you can ensure his tasks are properly escalated and handled. That way it will feel more like you're problem-solving together and their needs aren't being shoved to the side.
If it continues after that, you may need to ask your boss to step in. But you want to show that you've already tried and did a great job of trying. Chances are, the other person doesn't think they are doing something wrong. They are just used to going straight to the source and assigning work.
Exactly what Suzanne said!
You instruct your team that they are not to respond to anyone other than you and have them inform whoever is sending them the email that they need orders from you as that is what they were instructed to do by their manager.
I have to deal with this sort of thing all the time. Clear instructions to YOUR team is all that is needed.
Don't worry about what the other guy is doing. Then your team's response is clear and easy from anyone other than their manager (you). The big problem would be if your team starts acting on his directions. You would need to talk to them then if that starts happening.
The number one thing you need to do is talk to him. This is not something you wait or find time to do. You have to go to him and have a frank and honest discussion about this. If he is a reasonable manager he will treat you as a peer.
Now this is starting with the assumption that a strict chain of command has been established.
Geeze, what a drag!
Just like with any manager in an organization, when I have a problem I go directly to the manager of the problem. If that's their subordinate, fine, if that's them, fine.
I just had a face to face with a maintenance manager over the unsafe behavior of one of his vendors. Chewed on the vendor, safety first, then found out who they were working for and handed the problem to him.
Likewise, if someone has an issue with a team member of mine, my team will let me know and I'll go talk with that manager and subordinate.
It feels like it adds work to your day, and hassle you shouldn't have to deal with, but that's why YOU are there. Get your ducks in a row, go talk directly to the manager.
Good luck, sounds like managing is too hard for your director! Don't be that way yourself.
Tell your team that they shouldn't be doing anything without a ticket to support it. If this guy is raising tickets for them, that's fine, treat them with the usual triage/prioritisation system.
Then make sure you say that in the next management meeting - "My team will not be doing tasks that do not have a ticket for them, so that we can better track trends/problems, and performance. I have told them not to do anything, from anyone, that does not have a ticket."
You instruct your team to do some if not all of the following.
Tell them to tell the other manager to come see you so you can assign them work tasks. then do nothing more with the job that has been requested until you assign it to them. Then if this other manager DOES NOT come and see you the job does not get done. Eventually the other manager will get the message that nothing he is requesting is getting done. Why is this? Ah because he is not following the process he has been told. So he will need to change his ways. Then if things go wrong you will be able to show documented evidence that procedure was not followed and the other manager should have been coming to see you and not directly to members of staff he is not the time manager of. Why should he think his requests are more important than that which they have already been assigned?
So either 1 of two things will happen.
1. he will realise his current approach is not achieving any of the tasks he needs to have complete and he will come to see you so you can assign work tasks.
2. he will come to see you because he has been told that is what needs to happen so you can assign work tasks.
Ultimately either his stuff does not happen or it happens because procedure was followed.
Talk to him (and afterwards to your team). Maybe he just wants to help you/your team because he knows that you are new to the management things.
In the talk with him make clear that your team will only accept work orders from you from now on,
In the talk with your team make clear that every order has to be issued by you.
I still like to see the good in people :) Not everything is always bad and against you.
Definitely need to confront him, but I would meet with your own team first and let them know that all job duties originate from your desk not anyone else's. If they have a rogue request they need to tell that person that all work is funneled through you. Then have the tough conversation with this person that you and your staff can handle what needs done. If that doesn't work, then maybe it is time for the 3 of you (you, that person and the manager) have a sit down to discuss how teams are run. If your manager doesn't back you after all of this, then maybe it is time to move on.
A number of good suggestions so far. You mention that you are new to management. Is this department structure new as well or has it been in place for a while and there should be no habit of this behavior from before this structure?
I would definitely talk to this manager one-on-one first of all. Because both of the teams have the same purpose--making sure users' needs are met so that they can do their jobs productively and efficiently--I would adopt the approach that my role is to make sure my own team can do the same. That is why all requests for projects, task assignment, progress reports, etc. come to/from me. I'm trying to enable my staff to focus on getting the job done. I would note, too, that since the things I do (infrastructure, telephony, etc.) are the things his team needs to support, we need to find a way to work closely together so that we are working in harmony for that same end goal and so that our teams can both be doing/getting what they need to perform well. Perhaps I would propose a regular meeting with him to foster communication and this relationship.
At the same time, I would instruct my staff to keep me informed of whether anything changes. If not (in, say, a week), I would definitely instruct them to respond with some more politick way of saying, "You can't bring this stuff to me directly. It goes through my manager."
Ideally, this will either bring resolution or blowback. The former has taken care of the problem. The latter is then a topic for the other guy's and my manager.
I'd instruct my team to not answer any correspondence from him directly. All email replies should be "You'll need to speak to my team lead for that" and the same thing over the phone. Getting your team to show him a strong front and relay the message that he has to go through you will strengthen your position when it comes time to deal with him directly.
This is a not uncommon situation. And the solution is to use a clear chain of command.
Start by having a heartfelt talk with your team. Impress upon them that the only person they have to please is you. Emphasize that although other people may be higher in the organization than they are, they are not in their direct chain of command. All requests outside of normal situations must go up, over, and down -- through you.
Then, have your people handle those requests with a polite rejoinder. Our manager asks that all requests outside of normal go through him to ensure that our time and his resources are allocated properly. I'll be happy to do that work as soon as it is assigned to me by my manager.
Then, back up your people.
Having fallen foul of processing a task for a manager of a non-IT related team (nearly resulting disciplinary action for myself) I know this can lead to issues. In my haste to complete assigned tasks quickly during a stressful and busy period I forgot to run it through my manager and this soured our relations for a number of weeks until we finally discussed the situation at length. Hopefully you can avoid this for your team by giving them some direction that I didn't have. Formalising which type of requests can be processed by staff and which need to be approved at your level is important.
Personally, I would gently prod the offending manager to see if he provides some indication that he feels what he is doing is wrong or reveals whatever issue he may be trying to resolve. Follow up by letting him know your guys have various responsibilities to work on and status reports etc. should be requested from you to allow your team to focus on the priorities you set them.
If he/she truly has no valid reason for doing this, ie, you and your team are capable and have proven to be able to do your jobs, especially with respect to the other teams (and really just as part of being part of a cooperative and professional workplace), you need to make sure boundaries are defined and procedures are followed..
Do not incite conflict but approach this rationally.
First, find out if there is any dirt on this manager. Hire a private detective if necessary and...<<Oh wait, this was meant for a different group.
Let your immediate director know about the issue and see what he/she suggests. Perhaps your director knows something about this manager that you don't and can deal with it.
Otherwise, the next logical thing would be to approach the manager with your immediate director and review what the procedures are for the company. Perhaps this person has a good reason (perhaps only in their mind) to work as they are.
Then go from there and see if things get better or if they do not.Edited Jun 30, 2020 at 15:19 UTC