So this was what happened yesterday. Laila and Mohammad (not their real names) are two of my staff. Laila is a junior staff. Mohammad is senior. Mohammad is the jaded, experienced, I know best, I don't listen, I am above you - type of person. Maybe it is due to age. Anyway, he has some problems - everyone knows it. All the other managers who manages him gave up.
But I did not. I try not to. Everyone has a chance and everyone has good intentions. And Mohammad does have good intentions. His customers loves him. He gets things done. He's self driven, aggressive.. his problems is just in people relationship.
Recently, there was a bout of complains about Mohammad from the team and from people in the company. In a spirit of improving him, I fed back to him.
As per his usual self, he was self defensive. He asked me for some examples and I gave him. With Mohammad, if you try to be tactful and generalize, he doesn't get it. It's difficult to penetrate to him because he refused to listen.
After the discussion, he approached Laila.. he asked Laila to tell him what happened! Of every examples I cited, Mohammad chose to ask Laila - of course I know why. He wants to justify to himself that it was not him. And who better to ask but Laila, the most junior, the one who will not argue back.
Laila, predictably, said no problem. This morning Laila was pissed at me for sharing. In fact, she was rather rude at me. I looked at her point blank and I said "Laila, you kept on complaining about how Mohammad treats you. Now I feedback to him but when he asked you, you did not stand your ground and instead claimed that nothing happened. And then you come to me be mad at me for putting you in a difficult position! You are pissed at your manager but you kept quiet when your peer confronted you. What gives?"
Anyway, since she didn't want to stand her ground and tell Mohammad how she feels, I told her to manage the situation in the future.
As I reflect, I sometimes think that I am too nice and my staff forgets that I am their manager. Or perhaps I gives too much flexibility to them. Maybe I need to micro manage!
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