Dear Bob ...
I'm dealing with a reorg. It isn't my reorg ... it came from a couple of levels above me. The long and short of it is that we're going to start working closely with another part of the company that my staff is accustomed to thinking about in disparaging terms.
[ Also on InfoWorld: "When is bypassing the chain of command OK, and when does it violate protocol?" | Get sage advice on IT careers and management from Bob Lewis in InfoWorld's Advice Line newsletter. ]
Unsurprisingly, they are accustomed to thinking about us the same way.
The other manager and I have begun an exchange program, so our employees can get to know each other personally, work together, and cross-train. It wasn't a smooth start, but it's been getting better.
Except for Ralph.
Ralph is a talented employee who knows his job and does it well. Ralph has also told several of his friends that because of his now having to spend part of his work week "living with the enemy," he's going to get me fired. I know for a fact that he's written at least one memo to my boss, cc: HR, explaining how incompetent I am, and what a poor manager and leader. I'm concerned that because he fired the first shot that I'm at a disadvantage.
I should also say that there are some employees who are listening to Ralph, and starting to grumble more and more about the exchange program.
I'll also tell you that while my boss and I get along fine, my time in this position hasn't included a lot of strong support from him. He's a laissez-faire kind of guy.
What do you think? Should I let the situation ride, assume my boss has my back, and figure Ralph will settle down?
And if not, what would you suggest?
- Herding cats
Dear Cat-herd ...
Don't let this go a day longer. Every day Ralph encourages his colleagues to be disrectful and nothing happens is a victory for him, and my guess is that Ralph is the sort of person who needs periodic victories over his imagined enemies.
You need to inform both your boss and HR that you're aware of Ralph's behavior, consider it unacceptable, and plan to deal with it directly and immediately. Thank them in advance for their understanding that reorganizations do cause discontent, and that you will be working with all of your team on this front as well.