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Staffing Issues - Need advice from managers working in Public sector (Government)

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Jul 14, 2015
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Thornhill, ON

Staffing Issues - Need advice from managers working in Public sector (Government)

Here comes a long vent...

I am a manager who has worked in the public sector for about 2.5 years and I am now at the end of my wits with 2 staff members working under me. Back when I used to work in the private sector, staff easily gets kicked to the curb if they do not meet their supervisors' expectations. Now, where I am, it is almost impossible to get rid of anyone, unless that person blows up the entire office building, runs around with a hacking knife, scams the organization for a couple of million dollars then brutally kills the head boss' puppy . It's that ridiculous.

I want very badly to get rid of these 2 staff members, but here where I am, NO ONE gets fired. That's why most people in my department has been there for 30+ years. If people break the rules, they might get a slap on the wrist. The only way to actually "get rid" of a person is if the position is declared 'surplus' or obsolete, or if there is a severe department budget cut. I need some advice from managers from the public sector out there... what would you do in these circumstances if you have these people working under you??

Staff A -- has the best qualifications you have ever seen. Unfortunately, he is also irresponsible, anti-social, incompetent and stuck up. He refuses to collaborate with other staff members in the department. The only time he seems to open his mouth is to gossip or to complain about people or work (to the 1-2 colleagues who are actually friendly with him). He hardly ever talks to me, and also refuses to provide me with any project updates, unless I walk over to him and ask him, gently. And even then, he seems unwilling to provide any meaningful information. Worse, 9 out of 10 times when I walk to his cubicle, he's not there. He is usually between 30 to 1.5 hour late for work each day, takes his lunch hour break at almost exactly 12:00pm on the dot, and comes back a little after 1pm on a good day. Regardless of when he comes in, he always leaves when the clock strikes 4:59pm. When I politely email him to remind him of the rules about office hours, he ignores them, or rolls his eyes at me, complaining about morning traffic. I also cannot count the number of times he emails me at 9:30 saying he can't come to work because of a headache. His work quality is poor and I don't remember a time when I actually felt he did a good job. He doesn't take constructive feedback, or any type of feedback, well. He's extremely defensive about everything. Actually he screwed up so many times and I spent endless hours cleaning up his mess. He has also said to me that there are parts of the job that "he just doesn't want to do, because he doesn't want those things on his resume". So when there is a demand for those tasks, I have to get other people to work overtime to compensate while he surfs the net at his desk. To sum it up, I am afraid to assign him any work because it means I will have to re-do it once he's finished.


Staff B -- has almost no qualifications. His demeanor is almost like a bulldog. You don't want to mess with him. You know if you mess with him, he will bite you. He is good friends with one of the executives (equivalent to a VP of the organization). So anytime there is a problem, he goes directly to the head honcho and by-passes me. If he doesn't like the work I assign him, he will simply say, "I'm too busy to do your work, I have something else I'm working on". Again, the "work" that he has assigned to himself has nothing to do with the department or his role. When i confront him about this, he will say, "But the VP says it's ok for me to do this". The VP is also starting to assign work to him directly without going through me. When I ask him about the status of the work he is doing for the VP, he tells me he has already informed the VP and will discuss it with me if and when he has time. He works in his little silo and doesn't like team work. He also picks and chooses what he likes to do instead of what is needed. Worse, Staff B and this other staff member, "Staff C" in my department are arch enemies - and i find myself spending most of my days trying to break up their cat fights. When I don't take Staff B's side, he will report me to HR saying I'm not doing my job as his supervisor and that he is reprimanded for his complaints. He is also extremely smart and has a way to break office rules without getting caught or getting penalized. Some days, I find him leaving at 2 or 3pm, or "working from home" when the office policies strictly prohibit this. When I confront him, he will then say, "but the VP allowed me to do this before".

I feel a little helpless - here is an employee who supposedly report to me, but has absolutely zero respect for me. I cannot exert any authority over him for he fears no one, and he knows that the VP will back him up if I make a move. I have tried to get the VP to help in the past but since she is my direct supervisor too, I am afraid to complain too much, for it will reflect poorly on my management skills as well. I am in line for a promotion and really don't want to piss her off.

I cannot control these 2 staff members. I have no issues with the other 12-13 staff members in my department, but these two are truly the biggest trouble makers I've encountered. What are your suggestions? And how would you deal with this situation? :(

Any advice would be appreciated...
17 replies
Deal Addict
User avatar
Apr 7, 2012
2541 posts
638 upvotes
Toronto
You manage 15 people and you're asking RFD on how to terminate an employee?
Penalty Box
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Jul 11, 2008
4368 posts
1508 upvotes
Away from RFD idiots
how can there be a VP in public sector? is it an agency?
Banned
User avatar
Nov 1, 2014
4317 posts
561 upvotes
Toronto, ON
Heatwave2015 wrote: Here comes a long vent...

I am a manager who has worked in the public sector for about 2.5 years and I am now at the end of my wits with 2 staff members working under me. Back when I used to work in the private sector, staff easily gets kicked to the curb if they do not meet their supervisors' expectations. Now, where I am, it is almost impossible to get rid of anyone, unless that person blows up the entire office building, runs around with a hacking knife, scams the organization for a couple of million dollars then brutally kills the head boss' puppy . It's that ridiculous.

I want very badly to get rid of these 2 staff members, but here where I am, NO ONE gets fired. That's why most people in my department has been there for 30+ years. If people break the rules, they might get a slap on the wrist. The only way to actually "get rid" of a person is if the position is declared 'surplus' or obsolete, or if there is a severe department budget cut. I need some advice from managers from the public sector out there... what would you do in these circumstances if you have these people working under you??

Staff A -- has the best qualifications you have ever seen. Unfortunately, he is also irresponsible, anti-social, incompetent and stuck up. He refuses to collaborate with other staff members in the department. The only time he seems to open his mouth is to gossip or to complain about people or work (to the 1-2 colleagues who are actually friendly with him). He hardly ever talks to me, and also refuses to provide me with any project updates, unless I walk over to him and ask him, gently. And even then, he seems unwilling to provide any meaningful information. Worse, 9 out of 10 times when I walk to his cubicle, he's not there. He is usually between 30 to 1.5 hour late for work each day, takes his lunch hour break at almost exactly 12:00pm on the dot, and comes back a little after 1pm on a good day. Regardless of when he comes in, he always leaves when the clock strikes 4:59pm. When I politely email him to remind him of the rules about office hours, he ignores them, or rolls his eyes at me, complaining about morning traffic. I also cannot count the number of times he emails me at 9:30 saying he can't come to work because of a headache. His work quality is poor and I don't remember a time when I actually felt he did a good job. He doesn't take constructive feedback, or any type of feedback, well. He's extremely defensive about everything. Actually he screwed up so many times and I spent endless hours cleaning up his mess. He has also said to me that there are parts of the job that "he just doesn't want to do, because he doesn't want those things on his resume". So when there is a demand for those tasks, I have to get other people to work overtime to compensate while he surfs the net at his desk. To sum it up, I am afraid to assign him any work because it means I will have to re-do it once he's finished.


Staff B -- has almost no qualifications. His demeanor is almost like a bulldog. You don't want to mess with him. You know if you mess with him, he will bite you. He is good friends with one of the executives (equivalent to a VP of the organization). So anytime there is a problem, he goes directly to the head honcho and by-passes me. If he doesn't like the work I assign him, he will simply say, "I'm too busy to do your work, I have something else I'm working on". Again, the "work" that he has assigned to himself has nothing to do with the department or his role. When i confront him about this, he will say, "But the VP says it's ok for me to do this". The VP is also starting to assign work to him directly without going through me. When I ask him about the status of the work he is doing for the VP, he tells me he has already informed the VP and will discuss it with me if and when he has time. He works in his little silo and doesn't like team work. He also picks and chooses what he likes to do instead of what is needed. Worse, Staff B and this other staff member, "Staff C" in my department are arch enemies - and i find myself spending most of my days trying to break up their cat fights. When I don't take Staff B's side, he will report me to HR saying I'm not doing my job as his supervisor and that he is reprimanded for his complaints. He is also extremely smart and has a way to break office rules without getting caught or getting penalized. Some days, I find him leaving at 2 or 3pm, or "working from home" when the office policies strictly prohibit this. When I confront him, he will then say, "but the VP allowed me to do this before".

I feel a little helpless - here is an employee who supposedly report to me, but has absolutely zero respect for me. I cannot exert any authority over him for he fears no one, and he knows that the VP will back him up if I make a move. I have tried to get the VP to help in the past but since she is my direct supervisor too, I am afraid to complain too much, for it will reflect poorly on my management skills as well. I am in line for a promotion and really don't want to piss her off.

I cannot control these 2 staff members. I have no issues with the other 12-13 staff members in my department, but these two are truly the biggest trouble makers I've encountered. What are your suggestions? And how would you deal with this situation? :(

Any advice would be appreciated...
in private sector..you just shift the employees to another team..nobody gets fired because that doesn't do anybody any good. if you can't manage your workers as a manager..just switch them to other te3ams.

that's how it's dealt with in private sector

not sure what kind of small time operation you were at in private before..but most certainly you can't kick people to the curb..HR will kick you to the curb before they let that happen
Deal Expert
Feb 29, 2008
19388 posts
17856 upvotes
Tarrana & The Ri…
LandKing wrote:
not sure what kind of small time operation you were at in private before..but most certainly you can't kick people to the curb..HR will kick you to the curb before they let that happen
Really?
Banned
May 20, 2015
247 posts
39 upvotes
Scarborough, ON
The best way to deal with in-fireable employee is to shift them to another team. I am sure there are many managers under your VP. Make up some excuses to get them over to other teams that need help.

Staff A is highly qualified with bunch of letters (we have one in my company too) behind his name. This one is easy to sell to your boss.

As for Staff B, you will have to convince staff B that he is needed somewhere else. Let him talk to the VP about it.

These workers exist not only in the public sector they also exist in private.
By transferring the problem to other managers, it is rather unethical and whoever got them will hate you for life.
Deal Expert
Feb 29, 2008
19388 posts
17856 upvotes
Tarrana & The Ri…
KnowledgeHungry wrote: The best way to deal with in-fireable employee is to shift them to another team. I am sure there are many managers under your VP. Make up some excuses to get them over to other teams that need help.

Staff A is highly qualified with bunch of letters (we have one in my company too) behind his name. This one is easy to sell to your boss.

As for Staff B, you will have to convince staff B that he is needed somewhere else. Let him talk to the VP about it.

These workers exist not only in the public sector they also exist in private.
By transferring the problem to other managers, it is rather unethical and whoever got them will hate you for life.
They do. Are they delusional or do they just not give a poop? Sadly, when it comes time to letting go of people...these types tend to make it through the cuts.
Banned
May 20, 2015
247 posts
39 upvotes
Scarborough, ON
JayLove06 wrote: They do. Are they delusional or do they just not give a poop? Sadly, when it comes time to letting go of people...these types tend to make it through the cuts.
Yeah, these types have tons of letters behind their names and they also have connections. As long as their connections don't get axed, they won't.

We traded 2 people to other teams in exchange for something unpleasant. It was the deal we have made with the other teams. Luckily, these two people are known throughout the company as the untouchables and bad work ethics. Other teams just gave them some data entry tasks but sounded important.

And even with data entry, they screw up a lot but can easily be corrected.
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Nov 1, 2014
4317 posts
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Toronto, ON
JayLove06 wrote: Really?
yes... because any large corporation will have HR to look after their arses ...and firing people leads to lots of headaches... I mean what was done to cause dismissal, what steps/communication was discussed with employee, how was progress monitored and who did the monitoring, was employee given opportunity to participate in this process..what accommodations were made for the employee? and etc

It's a lot easier for all involved to switch the underperformers to another team or adjust their responsibilities .. i mean it very well could be incompetent or poor manager that's leading to the issues in HR's view and could be reality.. if you fire somebody without getting everything in order, documented and accommodations made/attempted/monitored etc..

firing someone on your team does nobody any good.. you look bad as a manager, employee obviously will have resentment and may sue, HR will be pissed (firing and rehiring??) and you're down an employee! (i mean even bad employee must have some competenices and who's going to do their work?).. it's lose/lose/lose/lose. as bad as it sounds..it's easier and better for everybody to just shift the employee to another team
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Nov 1, 2014
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Toronto, ON
KnowledgeHungry wrote: The best way to deal with in-fireable employee is to shift them to another team. I am sure there are many managers under your VP. Make up some excuses to get them over to other teams that need help.

Staff A is highly qualified with bunch of letters (we have one in my company too) behind his name. This one is easy to sell to your boss.

As for Staff B, you will have to convince staff B that he is needed somewhere else. Let him talk to the VP about it.

These workers exist not only in the public sector they also exist in private.
By transferring the problem to other managers, it is rather unethical and whoever got them will hate you for life.
to be fair.. it very well could be the manager's problem in terms of managerial style, expectations and etc.. some staff who've shifted teams can thrive with change of environment. it's like playing for a crap coach on a sports team ..or even just a good player in an incompatible system that doesn't utilize their skills or amplifies their weaknesses..and all employees have strengths and weakensses..it is upto manager to utilize his assets effectively ..and not just saying they're bad employees and walk away
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May 20, 2015
247 posts
39 upvotes
Scarborough, ON
LandKing wrote: to be fair.. it very well could be the manager's problem in terms of managerial style, expectations and etc.. some staff who've shifted teams can thrive with change of environment. it's like playing for a crap coach on a sports team ..or even just a good player in an incompatible system that doesn't utilize their skills or amplifies their weaknesses..and all employees have strengths and weakensses..it is upto manager to utilize his assets effectively ..and not just saying they're bad employees and walk away
Some people just lose hope in life. They don't care. They come in and put in the bare minimums and go home. They think they should get paid $100k for data entry.

Well, after those two employees switched teams, they still perform badly. And it is rather a discussion topic over lunch and dinners between our teams, and they were not invited.

We would start out the conversation as:
we: " how is staff A or B doing at your team?"
They: "poorly, can barely do data entry correctly".
we: "sorry about that, we already told you about their attitude and abilities and yet you still wanted to trade".

We traded two bad employees away for some time consuming tasks that the other teams failed to do well.
Moderator
May 28, 2012
12035 posts
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Saskatoon
Your management style is clearly not working with these two individuals. Get together with HR and discuss a plan of action, you shouldn't have to do this on your own. Document everything.
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Nov 1, 2014
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KnowledgeHungry wrote: Some people just lose hope in life. They don't care. They come in and put in the bare minimums and go home. They think they should get paid $100k for data entry.

Well, after those two employees switched teams, they still perform badly. And it is rather a discussion topic over lunch and dinners between our teams, and they were not invited.

We would start out the conversation as:
we: " how is staff A or B doing at your team?"
They: "poorly, can barely do data entry correctly".
we: "sorry about that, we already told you about their attitude and abilities and yet you still wanted to trade".

We traded two bad employees away for some time consuming tasks that the other teams failed to do well.
if it's a motivational problem..that's a managerial problem.

as for example of poor data entry skills.. just because a skill is "low" level..doesn't mean it is be done well by anybody. Heck try to get the VP or execs to do data entry and it'll be much worst performance lol again poor mangerial style that mismatch skill sets to duties

but.. can shift teams again and as in all things in life..if another team did you a favor for taking on some of your problems..you will return the favor in the future
Banned
May 20, 2015
247 posts
39 upvotes
Scarborough, ON
LandKing wrote: if it's a motivational problem..that's a managerial problem.

as for example of poor data entry skills.. just because a skill is "low" level..doesn't mean it is be done well by anybody. Heck try to get the VP or execs to do data entry and it'll be much worst performance lol again poor mangerial style that mismatch skill sets to duties

but.. can shift teams again and as in all things in life..if another team did you a favor for taking on some of your problems..you will return the favor in the future
Well, those two employees love to review things they don't know how to do. Always ask if they can review this and that but they have never done them themselves.

But if we tell them to do those things first before they can review, they don't want to do them.
Deal Fanatic
Apr 23, 2009
5161 posts
703 upvotes
South of Ottawa
Mars2012 wrote: Your management style is clearly not working with these two individuals. Get together with HR and discuss a plan of action, you shouldn't have to do this on your own. Document everything.
This^^

They need to be on a performance management plan. Everything will be documented. After a set period of time, they can be turfed, union or not.
Sr. Member
Nov 15, 2008
800 posts
223 upvotes
God...working in an office is brutal and while like high school, is actually worse because you can't tell people to *****off when they are getting under your skin.

You have managers who are like the bossy, rules obsessed, but largely clueless, teachers who just love to hang it over you that you are under their thumb and must always do exactly as they say (picture Cartman yelling "accept mah direction!!"), no matter what. How degrading for adults to have to spend most of their lives in that type of a relationship especially since most people who are being managed are much smarter than the peter principle twits who end up in management.

Then you have your co-workers who are like something off of the set of Mean Girls. Backstabbing, gossiping harpies who either don't bother helping you out, or actively work to undermine your work and confidence so they can get ahead at your expense.

And everyone is expected to be cheerful at forced office social events. Bletch.

I've been playing the lottery a lot more lately.
Banned
May 20, 2015
247 posts
39 upvotes
Scarborough, ON
^ if only there are more places where people's main objective is to move the company forward not putting their interest as the top priority.

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