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Abuse of so called "Power"

Jill Rosemary

| 112 Posts

Chartered Member

26 Feb, 2013 13:54

We have a payroll administator who has been with the business since it belonged to her family (basically she has worked her for over 25 years).  The business is no longer family and she has no stake in the business whatsoever.  (one family member still holds some share).  This person is persistently using this connection to her advantage as she knows people are afraid to challenge her, she takes every opportunity to deduct wages, challenge management on their timekeeping and question if they have taken time in lieu for overtime work (salaried, so not entitled to overtime)... she scares other employees because they feel she is watching them all the time, refuses to assist in training for someone to cover her in her absence, of which she takes no holidays!!! Last year she took a total of 3 days as annual leave.  Her manager is unable to manage her and basically she gets away with her behaviour, however her behaviour is clever and manipulative in that she doesnt do anything that you can pin down, she is just generally "at" others.  The staff mainly the female staff are cool towards her and she complains that she is "left out" yet she causes the agro in the first place.  I am at wits end to know how to deal with her, she is not a direct report of mine, I have asked her manager to deal with her and ensure that she books annual leave etc but unfortunately on the people management side of things he is weak...  This is brewing into a potentially explosive situation so any advice or stories of a similar nature would be appreciated...
  • Keith

    | 8852 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    26 Feb, 2013 13:57

    Jill


    The problem seems not to be the employee but the manager. I would either focus my attention on developing the manager or move this employee to a stronger manager.


    Keith

  • Jill Rosemary

    | 112 Posts

    Chartered Member

    26 Feb, 2013 14:09

    Hi Keith, the problem is definitely her manager, our financial director.  Unfortunately there is no other manager (excluding myself) who could manage her and as her job is not predominantly payroll but also accounts payable she does not fall under my remit and it makes sense that she falls under the finance umbrella.  I have identified a training requirement in her manager which has been agreed and identified by his manager who agrees he is a poor people manager.  It seems like no one wishes to address the issue or tackle it first hand even though they are aware there is a problem...  To be honest I dont think training would help in this regard, either you can manage people well or you cant, some people are "people" people and some are not...  Not a fault, just a characteristic..
  • Keith

    | 8852 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    26 Feb, 2013 14:17

    I disagree a bit - dont think its much to do with being a people person but about following appropriate and tried and tested processes which can be taught. Sure you may not turn someone into an inspirational Leader but think you can turn them into an adequate manager.


    Until their Manager steps up to the plate then I think you will struggle to sort out the issues with this person. You may have to decide which is the biggest problem for your organisation - A senior manager who cant manage or a disruptive payroll clerk.

  • Jill Rosemary

    | 112 Posts

    Chartered Member

    26 Feb, 2013 14:29

    Hi Keith, I suppose this is why I am on here seeking advice as such.  Have tried the processes and training to no avail.. feeling like a bit of a lost cause, it is difficult when someone cannot see themselves that they need to adopt skills or at least try then its kind of like being between a rock and a hard place...  you are right they are both the problem.  Stil leaves me back at square one - maybe I should just wait for the explosion!!! 

  • Keith

    | 8852 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    26 Feb, 2013 14:42

    Jill


    If teh problem is the Manager (which it at least appears to be at first glance) then what has teh Managers Manager done about it? What feedback/performance management is the Manager being given about their own management style and practices?


    Is it acceptable to their Manager (the MD I guess) that the FD is such a poor lackluster people manager? If it isnt then you have an option to do something, if it is then sit back and wait.


    Your previous note said you identified a training requirement - well has this been carried out and if not why? The MD has to accept responsibility to manager their people or accept the damage it will cause.


    Options are (not exclusive)


    Training and/or coaching Manager


    Robust feedback and managing of Manager (first)


    Changing the reporting line of Clerk and anyone else who reporst to FD


    Changing FD


    Compromising out (wouldnt go anywhere near this) Payroll person and waiting till next people problem a rises in Finance team


    Getting in some external support to do some team building etc in Finance team to paper over the cracks


    Good luck

  • Jill Rosemary

    | 112 Posts

    Chartered Member

    26 Feb, 2013 14:51

    Thanks for that Keith.  I have raised the issue with the MD and he is aware, I will speak again with him regarding this... some food for thought though with external support and maybe a quiet nudge to MD that this is also his problem if he does not actively insist the proper training/coaching for the FD is carried out including him insisting that this woman takes appropriate holidays.  I think if our admin staff had a breather from her every now and again would also help a little! 
  • Julia

    | 116 Posts

    Chartered Member

    26 Feb, 2013 15:32

    My own experience of such a situation is that I sat down with the lady and the Manager to discuss the situation, after he was clear on the process and I had agreed this with the Manager's Manager.   So I didn't do it for him but I helped him through the various hoops.  The lady concerned went sick and eventually after many twists and turns left the Company - voluntarily and did not sue.  The first step was for it to be clear to the individual that the situation couldn't go on and that we weren't 'scared' of talking about it and ensuring that she took holidays.  We also agreed to employ someone part time who was then able to pick up the payroll when she went sick. There was enormous relief when we started on the road to a solution, like I say, it didn't go smoothly, but people appreciated the fact that we were prepared to tackle it.

     

    Julia 

  • Jill Rosemary

    | 112 Posts

    Chartered Member

    4 Mar, 2013 10:34

    Thanks Julia, that also seems like a good option...
  • David

    | 19093 Posts

    Chartered Member

    4 Mar, 2013 11:40

    Yes, most savvy auditors and FDs would be immediately very suspicious of a payroll or accounts administrator who refused to take any of their holidays, and it's an entirely legitimate thing to insist upon (classic symptom of fraud going-on) - if needs be to say for the next three weeks you are on annual holiday - do not come into work - if you do, we shall send you home.

    Also, you might nominally get FD to call the shots here re formal capability meetings, but in effect run them yourself. You can say from the outset that the incapability is not at all incompetence, just complete obnoxiousness (or words to that effect) on her part, and you will review regularly and will expect this significantly to change,

    One way or the other, you might well succeed in her jolting herself out of the driving seat here.

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