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How to manage someone who will not accept me as their manager…

Dear H2

I've been working for the same company for 7 years now, and recently got promoted to Project Manager. It's going well, except that I now have to manage someone who has been a manager themselves, who has more skills and experience than me, and who will not accept me as their manager. They argue every point, give reasons for not doing tasks I set, and is seen by others as the real Project Manager. They will not go on training and are critical of the organisation.

I'd be grateful for some advice!

Yours, P

Dear P

Not to put too fine a point on it, it sounds like this person is in the wrong job!

Using superior skills/experience and arguments in order to get their own way is a serious abuse of power. Remember that you were selected for the job, not them, and it was probably for a good reason. If they have a good point to make, then you need to accept it graciously. But equally, they need to understand the need for tactful negotiation, and not overt bullying.

Try to maintain your own self-confidence, and see this person as just another team member with a number of weaknesses as well as skills. They certainly aren't demonstrating their team working skills, and are providing a poor example to others. Have you talked to them about how they feel about their job, and how they fit in with the team? They may respect you more if you tackle the issue head on by asking whether they are finding it difficult working to a manager who has less hands-on experience than them.

If you have tried discussing the situation with this person and to no avail, you may need to get the support of your own manager in this. After all, no matter how skilled or experienced a person is, they are paid to do a particular job, and are expected to support their manager - not to sabotage them.

We wish you the best of luck.

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