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Being undermined and sidelined at work

(40 Posts)
Emm14 Fri 11-May-18 04:06:29

Hi ladies
Can any of you offer some advice?
I am an experienced manager, working for large organisation where I have been for many years. Just recently, a young graduate has joined the workplace, in a section connected to my area of work. Our areas are closely related and we are in the same wider team. She has recently started to take it upon herself to do parts of my job, setting herself up as an expert in my field of work. I find out by chance she has set up some event or meeting etc that is highly relevant to my work and is actually my role. Her line manager thinks she is wonderful and won’t do anything to bring this girl back in line and to focus on her own job. I’m not sure how to deal with this. It is stressing and frustrating me. She is such an arrogant confident young woman, I cannot bear her. Any advice?

jenpax Fri 11-May-18 04:30:11

Sounds like this is keeping you awake judging by the time you posted this😧 so it certainly needs tackling. I suspect the young woman is very ambitious and keen to show senior managers that she is a good catch! You didn’t say if she is a trainee manager or just a new starter but I would suggest a friendly word with HR and a possible wider team meeting with the brief that now we have new starters it would be helpful to everyone to have clarity on who is responsible for what so that tasks are not duplicated! If you put it as an efficiency thing then I am sure the seniors will be on board. I presume that she was hired with a named role and job spec and as a new employee should be concentrating on her own role not encroaching into yours😳
Do you dislikes her as a person or is it because of the potential job poaching? If the former just stay pleasant but try to avoid extra interactions and if the latter just try to concentrate on a pleasant and subtle shot across the bow!
If you run into serious issues at work such that you feel you need to make a grievance etc (hopefully it won’t cone to this!) ACAS are the best people to talk to
Good luck

travelsafar Fri 11-May-18 08:01:44

So glad i no longer have to deal with any of this kind of behaviour since i am retired, it is such an awful feeling and you have my sympathy. I really hope the issues get resolved quickly for your sake. Please let us know the outcome.

M0nica Fri 11-May-18 08:07:07

Is she doing this to other people or just you? I think jenpax's approach is the right one.

You could also speak to her directly and inform her that she is encroaching on your section's work and point out to her that this is discourteous and that if she wants to get ahead, and accept that, of course, she does, she must learn to liaise with other sections and managers when her work strays into their territory. Tell her that it takes awhile to develop good inter-personnel skills and offer to supervise the work she is doing so that she gets the most benefit from it.

Sometimes being devious (and deeply subversive) is better than formal approaches.

Alidoll Fri 11-May-18 10:16:01

Good advice from M0nica. Worth speaking to the lady directly. Perhaps you could suggest a task she could focus on that involves her own job in more detail but which would showcase her talents? She’s clearly wanting to show she’s willing and able (which is great) but just needs a nudge back to her own area.

DJW Fri 11-May-18 10:17:14

Stay professional and offer little help to what she is trying to do. Just concentrate on your own work, and point out exactly when she encroaches in your area of work and the impact it is having on the company (don't make it personal - otherwise it makes you look bad). You mentioned that her line manager won't help. What about your own line manager? Or, if you have to, go one step up! Also, make strategic alliances with others in your company too and trust in yourself that you are doing a good job.

NemosMum Fri 11-May-18 10:28:17

You have my deepest sympathy Emm14. I'm inclined towards jenpax's approach. I usually agree with M0nica, but in this case, I think that if you have already pointed out the inappropriateness of this young woman's behaviour, and she has persisted, she is unlikely to respond positively to a further approach. I would go to HR and ask their advice. If they are switched on, they may be able to do something which doesn't involve you directly. Most importantly, keep dated and timed notes of all interactions. They will be evidence if you need them. Fingers crossed you won't. Good luck!

Eglantine21 Fri 11-May-18 10:29:52

You need to keep a written record of the times that she has made it difficult for you to do your job. You can do this retrospectively but from now on in detail. What she did, the impact it had on your job, your action, her response if any.

If you speak to her do it with a witness, otherwise any interaction should be in writing, memo or email so that there can be no question of what you did. Nothing emotional, just fact. Point out that a meeting involves your role and that you were not informed of the meeting. Or that an action she has taken has impacted upon your role.

When you have sufficient evidence ask for an interview with your line manager with HR present. Say that her actions are making it difficult for you to do your job properly. Then the ball is in their court.

Christalbee Fri 11-May-18 10:35:34

The threat comes when the overall manager is enthralled by the new recruit who is just entering the world of work with all it's challenges and fascinations. This is because they are usually brimming with enthusiasm and new ideas, young, overflowing with confidence and totally unaware of treading on other peoples feet, or at keeping their place in the environment they find themselves in. They want to push all the boundaries to prove themselves. It happened to me a few years ago. I had been doing my job for 17 years, and slowly moved up the ladder to middle management. I knew every in and out of the job, had tried everything to find the right balance and had it perfect in my view, my team and my immediate managers views. This new person came in, and everything was tried again (even though we had already tried it) I did mention this of course, but during the course of two years, because this person was the apple of the Senior managers eye, myself and my immediate manager, who had been there for 40 yrs! were made redundant! Only three years early for me, but more for my manager. Ruining our pensions and of course too late to get another job anywhere, certainly on the same salary. This was in a university environment, and I was lucky to have got a reasonable payout from them when I threatened them with constructive dismissal. Still rankles though!! And, is indemic throughout the work place.

sarahellenwhitney Fri 11-May-18 10:42:45

Emm14.Totally on your side
Do NOT under any circumstances have words with this young person who appears to be 'taking over' what you see as your responsibility. Only by approaching senior management & has authority above this young persons line manager can this be dealt with professionally.
Good luck.

Grampie Fri 11-May-18 10:49:27

Jobs are less important than the processes that serve others.

With your considerable experience and knowledge of these processes you could highlight the wasteful tasks/jobs and define the missing roles that prevent problems thereby replacing wasteful work with a new more productive role: yours.

You may also need to boost your lifelong learning.

After all, our purpose is not to perpetuate our jobs but to deliver better value to customers.

moonbeames Fri 11-May-18 10:55:15

This is a very tricky situation. You must not let anyone think that it is at all personal. Also tricky. Are you able to strengthen your position through other work colleagues by perhaps supporting them when they need it. And, as one other person has suggested send a shot across her bow, politely of course. Interesting.

Coconut Fri 11-May-18 10:55:31

The Line Manager you have spoken to is remiss in not recognising your concerns. It’s any Managers responsibility to address all concerns raised, to ensure a content and productive work environment. Over confident people are very off putting, their ambition often leads them to trample on others with no empathy. I presume you have annual appraisals which acknowledge your worth etc I agree that this needs jumping on ASAP because most of us are more than happy for help in any field .... but no one has the right to affect your confidence to this degree. They may think she is wonderful, however, team work is just that, working as a “team”. I have found before that highly qualified people are often lacking in basic common sense and life skills. Good luck ...

Beth61 Fri 11-May-18 11:12:42

Emm14, this was a bit like me 3 years ago when a young woman who was on the Fast Track Promotion Scheme became my line manager. I was ( and am) extremely good at my job however she started sidelining me as I work part time; never offered opportunities etc and made pointed remarks about my age! I tried speaking to her but she was dismissive as was her Manager. Anyway, I kept a diary and after a few months I contacted HR and the Union who were very supportive but didn't actually deal with the issue , they just moved her !
It really affected my MH so I totally understand how you are feeling but you need to tackle it through official channels. Good luck.

muddynails Fri 11-May-18 11:18:28

Grampie different wording than how I would have put it, but the last two paragraphs very succinct.

peaches50 Fri 11-May-18 11:22:02

Hi first step I'd take is to review and crystalize your job description with your own line manager, so there is no grey area this young person can stray into innocently or not. If you are are in the same division suggest a revamping of all jds and a team meeting to compare and share so you can be a more effective department. Make it a positive to boost productivity etc etc... Any hint this person ignores it (keep a diary f necessary with dates and facts) take it up politely but firmly. You have to defend your patch but not aggressively - just assertively and deserving of respect. I let a similar scenario make me ill but it never happened again once I took control and reminded HR of consequences . I went from Mrs nice buy the cakes fluffy bunny and company joker to being a modified version - still 'auntie' but one that was treated with a whole lot more care and reverence once I showed my teeth. If this person is talented has flair and is younger (last between gritted teeth) once back in her box you might want to mentor her and keep and eye (your enemies closer) you may find a good friend and satisfaction in her rise..

blue60 Fri 11-May-18 11:23:34

I worked in a very large organisation, and found that if speaking to the relevant manager was not bringing a result or being ignored, I then made my point in writing.

Choosing words carefully is paramount - this is to make clear your position without losing respect or create bad feeling. Avoid any emotio and remain professional throughout.

You could try something like this:

"Following on from our recent conversation, I woud like to bring to your attention that I would prefer to continue undertaking [relevent duties] as is normally expected in my role as [role].

While I appreciate efforts made by (name of person) arranging a meeting for [name of event] I would expect to be consulted or informed if such duties are to be performed by someone else, in order to avoid confusion and create a clear line of reporting to managers.

That said, as the lead role in this area of work, I welcome input from the wider team which would assist us in meeting and providing our service to a high level in respect of our customers' expectations."

I also found that by accepting new team members, advising them and being a person they could trust led to good working relationships and mutual respect. Hope this helps.

Marianne1953 Fri 11-May-18 11:26:20

Befriend her, take her out to lunch and see if you can solve it by the nice approach- ask her about her ideas and approach to work, take an interest in her (young people seem to love that). Try and find out if anyone else has had similar problems and talk to them. If she is being ageist, then go to your manager, if they don’t do anything,then go to HR. Young people want to make a mark, however, they need to learn how to work with other people from all backgrounds and ages . They need to respect other people’s position.

GabriellaG Fri 11-May-18 11:27:11

I think jenpax has it spot on. No need for any elaboration.

lovebeigecardigans1955 Fri 11-May-18 11:34:09

This is unpleasant for you. Quite apart from the excellent advice from jenpax on here, do remember that the over-confident tend to hoist themselves by their own petards eventually. Then you can smile wryly at the result.
In the meantime make sure that your own work and behaviour are exemplary.

Turquoise123 Fri 11-May-18 11:42:15

A difficult situation and one that many of us have found ourselves in over the years. Favoritism is very dangerous in offices as it sets up so much ill feeling.

As your two roles are closely related might it be an idea to think through what an efficient and clear structure looks like - so what's "yours" and what's "hers"? Focus on setting out something that's positive.

You could then set up a meeting with her, her manager and yours so that you can suggest this approach - making it clear that you want to give her the space to shine and do her own thing . Have the tone that her enthusiasm is great and frees you up to do new things- it's all opportunity.

Keep it upbeat - no need to mention previous issues , focus on the future and how you want to develop your areas and want to give her the space to do hers. Maybe gently hint that she has been causing a bit of confusion that you , with your experience of how the company works are trying to smooth out.

If there is project that you could start yourself this would be the time to mention it - again under the guise of setting out objectives and plans for the next 6 months ?

Once agreed it might be an idea to meet with her on a regular basis so that you can both feedback to each other on what you are doing ? Identify areas where you can support each other - even if you won't really be doing much about it.

Jaycee5 Fri 11-May-18 11:59:42

I agree that speaking to HR or whoever is senior to you is the best approach. Keep a written record and if it becomes untenable I would throw out the words 'constructive dismissal'. This is often done by knocking people's feet out from under them.
If you let if go on, people will just say 'well it's working, so let's just keep things as they are now'.
I would also send her an email pointing out that you must be included in any meetings which cover areas of your responsibility but not go into much detail or discussion as she may be the kind of person who would enjoy that.
Unfortunately, graduates do often believe that they should go into an organisation at the top, whatever their job description and don't always respect people to reached a high position in other ways.

Jaycee5 Fri 11-May-18 12:01:29

I like Blue60s suggestion and I'm not suggesting that you should talk about constructive dismissal unless all other approaches seem not to be working.

Craicon Fri 11-May-18 12:47:36

Our areas are closely related and we are in the same wider team.
Putting your feelings to one side, take a step back and look at what she has been working on. Do you know what brief she has been given?
I was recruited into a role with the specific purpose of reviewing and modernising the processes that had been trundling along unchanged for years. All the existing staff in my department had worked there a long time and were very resistant to change. Senior management hadn’t made any real effort to engage with the staff and explain why the changes were necessary.
Keep your friends close and you’re enemies closer.

As her work is encoaching on yours, it’s perfectly reasonable to suggest that it has the potential to inadvertently undermine what you’re doing and in order to be more effective, she needs to liaise with you more closely.
Essentially, you need to work out what her intentions are.

Craicon Fri 11-May-18 12:52:07

Your not you’re. Silly autocorrect.
Should have proof read before hitting send. blush