Subordinate Wants My Job

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about someone who wants your job:

How can I deal with a manager who reports to me, but who strongly believes she should have my job, and challenges me all the time?

Signed, On The Defensive

DearĀ On The Defensive:

There are at least three approaches to take when someone you manage thinks they should be managing you.

1. Make sure you are performing so excellently that your own bosses would never consider replacing you. If the subordinate wants your job, she may be maneuvering behind your back about it. Make sure your own managers see you as a strong contributor.

2. Treat the subordinate fairly and pleasantly, just as you would if she did not have the feeling she could and should replace you. It’s not unusual for someone who is upwardly mobile to be eyeing the boss’s position, so don’t overreact to minor comments or actions that indicate she would like your job. Other employees are probably watching to see how you handle such challenges.

3. Handle disrespectful actions or comments immediately and firmly. Be calmly in control and keep her focused on her own work, rather than yours. This is not the time to build a barrier between the two of you.Interact frequently about work. Commend her good work, offer to assist if you can, guide and direct if needed. Those actions clearly establish your respective roles and also fulfill your job to get the work done.If she is a manager, she is in charge of other people…and you are part of that chain of responsibility as well.

Make sure she is working well with those below her and that her work is being done correctly and on time. Don’t get into competition with her. The fact is that you are the higher level manager and she is not. Until that changes, keep the mind-set that you are appreciative of the value of all employees and all managers–including her. Help her succeed in her current position and maybe she won’t be so busy looking at yours!Best wishes in this challenging situation.

Tina Lewis Rowe