Ask For Advice

Send your questions and concerns to Dr. Marie McIntyre. Marie has more than 20 years experience in coaching, human resources, and management.  She writes the syndicated column “Your Office Coach”, which appears in more than 70 newspapers nationwide. Marie has authored two books and serves as a workplace expert for the National Institute of Business Management.  (Due to high volume, not all questions can be answered, but Marie will respond to as many as possible. Your question may be reprinted online or in the newspaper column unless you request otherwise.)

Coaching Q&A

My employee won’t  treat me like a manager!

Ever since I was promoted, one of my former coworkers has refused to acknowledge that I am now her supervisor.  Because she is friendly with my boss, “Anna” takes all her questions and concerns to him instead of me.  This power struggle has been going on for two years.

I’m so disgusted with Anna that I have a hard time controlling my temper.  I know that I’m letting her push my buttons, but I don’t want to just “roll over” and accept her backstabbing ways.  If I change my attitude towards her, I’m afraid she will feel that she has won this battle.

At the same time, I’m acutely aware that my inability to work with Anna has cast me in an unfavorable light with management.  How do I solve this problem?  Tired of Fighting

Marie’s Answer

Sadly, you have allowed Anna to engage you in a self-destructive game.  By participating in this childish schoolyard squabble, you have completely abdicated your leadership role and lost credibility with management.  To recover, you must take three steps.

First, remove words like “battle” from your mental vocabulary.  This is not a war, and Anna is not your enemy.  She is merely a difficult employee.  As her manager, your job is to help her be successful, no matter how annoying she is.

Next, ask your boss to put you back in the supervisory loop.  For example: “I would like to improve my relationship with Anna, but she usually takes her concerns directly to you.  If you could refer her back to me about work issues, that would give me a chance to be a better supervisor.”

Finally, having shifted your own mindset, invite your adversary to do the same: “Anna, the tension in our relationship really hurts the whole department, so I’d like to see if we can put this conflict behind us and learn to work together.  As your supervisor, what can I do to be more helpful to you?”

Anna will not magically transform into a new person overnight, but if you consistently act like a mature manager, things should gradually improve.

Difficult employees can drive any supervisor crazy.  But mature managers
avoid emotional reactions and take steps to correct the behavior.
Here are some specific suggestions and strategies:
How to Handle Drama Queens, Power Grabbers, & Other Challenging Employees

NOTE: Questions on this page have been edited for length, grammar, and confidentiality.  All material on this website is copyrighted to Marie G. McIntyre.  All rights reserved.

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    Marie G. McIntyre, Ph.D.

    Marie McIntyre has more than twenty years’ experience in career coaching and organizational development. She has held management positions in both business and government, including Director of Human Resources in a Fortune 500 company.

    Marie writes the weekly syndicated advice column, “Your Office Coach”, which appears in newspapers throughout the U.S. & Canada.  She also writes a monthly Career Commentary for and serves as a workplace expert for Business Management Daily.  Marie conducts webinars on a variety of topics related to leadership development and career success.

    As a consultant, Marie has assisted a wide variety of organizations, including Cisco, The Home Depot, Tyson Foods, the Federal Reserve, AT&T, Walgreens, Macy’s, and Habitat for Humanity. She has experience in working with business, government, and non-profit groups.

    Marie is the author of two books, “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics” &“The Management Team Handbook”.  She is frequently quoted in business publications, including Fortune, Forbes, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.