New supervisor needs to be more assertive

July 08, 2007|By MARIE G. McINTYRE

Q: I am a fairly new manager. One of my employees thinks he knows everything and frequently talks back to me. His attitude clearly doesn't serve as a good example for the other employees.

Every morning, I have a short staff meeting, and so far this guy hasn't shown any signs of wanting to attend. I told him that I might need his input and asked if he's ever going to join the meetings. He replied that he saw no point in it.

The last thing I want to do is to terminate his employment, but I need for him to change. What should I do about this situation?

- Baffled Boss

A: Like many new supervisors, you've learned that people don't necessarily do what you want just because you now have "manager" in your title. Disruptive employees must believe that you actually will assert the authority of your position.


When you "ask if he's ever going to join the meetings," you don't sound much like a manager. In fact, you sound like you're begging and pleading. And this guy apparently feels perfectly comfortable ignoring you.

So stop making weak requests and start making strong statements. First, agree with your boss and human resources manager about the appropriate consequence for continuing to skip meetings. Then tell this obstinate fellow that he must attend and explain why.

For example: "I know you would prefer not to come to the daily meetings, but I do expect you to be there. I need for everyone to hear the same information and share their opinions. So I expect to see you at the meeting on Monday."

Clearly outline what will happen if he fails to show, then end the conversation. Do not argue about it. If he's absent again, impose the predicted consequence without delay and repeat your expectation that he attend the meetings.

Should he continue to be rude and rebellious, consult with your HR manager about the appropriate next steps. If you tolerate this disrespect, you are abdicating your management responsibilities and sending the message that you are a doormat.

Marie G. McIntyre, Ph.D., is a workplace coach and the author of "Secrets to Winning at Office Politics." Send in questions and get free coaching tips at

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