ignoring training to purposefullly not have to do specific tasks

ignoring training to purposefullly not have to ...

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I am a senior member of staff within my branch with one of my responsibilities being the operation and day-to-day running of our sales tool.

our admin support function are required to input the daily work allcoation in to the tool so that the work can be monitored, the individual that does this is due for retirement in jan 2012, and has clearly expressed that she does not wish to learn any new functions (she does not believe that she should have to do anything new and that she should be allowed to continue with filing only).  Her attitude is poor and this is recognised by the whole of the management team, they have however taken the decision that running the disciplinary route is too long winded when she is likely to leave in 9 months.

A new process within the system across the entire company was rolled out just after Christmas this year involving the specific logging of work, which my manager and I had several long debates as whether we could actually afford to roll this out across our branh due to the individual that would be undertaking the work and the fact that we knew she would not do it correctly as she believes this would allow her to get out of doing the task.  we came to the decision we can not hold back rolling out something to the entire branch due to one individual

I ran training for this indivdidual along with another new starter for an hour 2 weeks ago; where I demonstrated with 5 examples  the training that needed to be undertaken.  the individual in question, paid no attention to the training (wouldnt even look at the screen at times, she took no notes and was more interested in why i hadnt left the company yet (a direct question).  when asked if she understood she told me yes and I asked if she wanted to do another practice case and she said no.  when my manager asked how the training went immediately afterwards i confirmed that had she had not paid attention nor taken any notes and that it was as bad as we had perceived (the other individual understood and is using the system, although has only been employed 2 months, the other individual has been using the system for 5 years).

A piece of work requiring this new logging system was receied yesterday which I clearly marked up but it was ignored.  i returned this via her line manager (as there is an awareness that there are a lot of errors these are always returned via manager) for correction.  the individual has now decided that she doesnt understand the new process and that she requires new training.  I ran through another case with her yesterday to get it logged and correct the incorrect case, when she asked me if i would run through another case I said yes and that there was one in the sift for tmrw but that she needed to work out which one it was as she needs to be able to identify them herself (they have an extra sheet of paper added)

At the end of the day yesterday, her line manager and myself had a discussion with my line manager, and pointed out that as today was the "management away day" myself and the other line manager would be the 2 left in charge of the office and that every time this happens certain individuals in the office see this as an opportunity to have a go at whoever is the most senior (I have had several of these occurrences and have had to break up an argument between this specific individual and her line manager).

Lo and behold at 4.30 this afternoon, I got torrent of abuse about how am I ageist (shes 62) and I can not expect her to learn new things and that I have to run her a whole new training course.  I explained that extra training could be considered but that would need to be discussed with her line manager as she had already received training (giving  extra training doesnt bother me, its the fact she paid NO attention in the 1st lot and that she just doesnt want to do the work and believes if she does it badly enough or long enough it will just get taken off of her)

I explained I was not prepared to have an argument in the middle of the office without management present and to leave it until tomorrow, I was then accused of pulling a face and to explain myself, I again reiterated that I was not having a discussion over this in the middle of the office, and that she was to drop the matter and her attitude immediately.

I have spoken to her line manager already and confirmed that the sitation arose, what I had done and we agreed we would see what happens in the morning.

My question is 2 fold:

How do we manage this woman, she doesnt want to learn anything new and anything she is given new will do incorrectly to ensure she probably doesnt have to do it again, but if we stop then she gets her own way (and there isnt enough of the work she "likes" doing to fill a 7 hour work day)

What is my position given that I told management there was likely to be an issue today which came to fruition but they give me no powers to address it?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated,

Replies (6)

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By sarah.welsby
08th Mar 2011 12:34

.. there is no guarantee that this employee will retire in early 2012. Her behaviour and conduct in the office is both disruptive and unacceptable and needs to be dealt with. There is no way around it, and to avoid it undermines the credibility of management at all levels. If it's a genuine "can't do" commence capability proceedings, and if it's a "won't do" commence disciplinary proceedings. But by the sounds of it, you do not have the responsibility to take this action, so encourage your line managers to take responsibility ..

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By rjherridge
08th Mar 2011 14:11

I agree with Sarah's post = its either capability or disciplinary.

Either way - this member of staff (regardless of age) must be bought under control in the most appropriate manner according to your procedures!

From your post - it would seem to me that you have a case of refusing to adhere to a management instruction or directive. Along with the fact that you could raise a grievance against her for her actions towards you to your Management that would have to be looked or investigated.

Casting aside this persons pending retirement or age, how would you deal with this situation if the employee were in their 20's or 30's -

Its my understanding too now, that with the new regulations pertaining to retirement, that if you can show that the employee fails to achieve the task they are expected to do, you would have a Justifiable reason for retiring the person.

It maybe though - that if this persons behaviour doesnt improve, you could move to dismiss on the grounds of capability and performance as Sarah says.  Keep notes of conversations, all actions, and training records (which I would get signed by the person to confirm they have recieved and understood the training given) its all evidence that you might need to rely on IF they get worse!

Good luck with this very difficult situation



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By sarahhowardillston
08th Mar 2011 14:26

I agree with the post above that it is the responsibility of the employee’s line manager (and their line manager) to pick this up with her but using the example that you are able to provide. You should trust that the manager will do this. However in the real world this does not always happen and the lack of willingness to learn anything new may be something that you have to live with as strictly speaking it lies outside of your direct responsibility. If the employee’s manager does not tackle the problem your own line manager should be able to support you, if necessary escalating sideways and upwards. If still nothing happens it might be time to think”you know what? I’m just going to carry on doing the best I can and leave her to it”. It’s not a very satisfactory outcome but it is an approach that can help stop frustrations building up.

From a HR perspective the questions running through my mind are: Does the employee receive feedback? Have one to ones or appraisals? If so, during each of these she needs to be consistently told that her behaviour is unacceptable in that it is rude and disruptive (she also needs to be told on the occasions that she does her job well). If she claims that she does not understand the training you need to let it wash over you and consider another way of getting the information across e.g. buddying her up with the colleague who understands the system. I know that it seems unlikely that she will suddenly respond but she will have no argument to make if you try this first.  Who knows, this might be all she needs (unlikely I know, but it does happen) However, I totally agree that there is a limit and if after a reasonable period of time (fairly short if there has been prior feedback given) she has not improved the next step is to have a formal (disciplinary) meeting. During that meeting her manager needs to have an honest and open conversation with her - is this the way that she wants to end her working life; in the disciplinary process?  Eventually being dismissed if she continues and remembered for all the wrong reasons? I’m sure none of you want that to happen and again I would tell her that but at the end of the day she needs to perform to an acceptable standard regardless of what stage she is at within her own career. Again though, this is for her manager’s to deal with. As hard as it may be, your responsibility sounds like it ends with raising it to their attention. Regards,Sarah

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By hlb
10th Mar 2011 20:46

thanks for all your comments,

part of the issue is she is frightened about retiring (no hobbies etc so fear of boredom!).  having discussed further with my line manager today, they are going to look at "making an offer".  Ive suggested they offer her part time to do the jobs she is capable of, and Ive also said any further training i do for her will require her to sign confirming she's had the training and has understood it.

in the short term however we have taken the easy way out and got another person to do this specific task.


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By hlb
26th Mar 2011 18:39

an announcement was made in our bracnh yesterday that was 2 fold, 1st point was that i am leavng the branch as i have gained promotion, 2nd point is that the individual discussed above has decided to take early retirement wef May 1st.

she was sent home in the afternoon for being so disruptive after discovering i was leaving too, think everyone is relieved they dont have to make her an offer.

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By rcl
22nd Jul 2011 09:24

I realise that this issue has resolved itself, however since other people may be reading this post to look for solutions to their own similar problems, I thought I would add a couple of points.

Firstly, I agree on the issue of ageism. To NOT discipline her is ageist, because the decision not to potentially fire her is based on her age alone. How would that affect her pension?

Secondly, some companies are awash with people like this. I worked for a very big British Telecommunications company for a few years, and the company kept moving the early retirement date back. There were people in every department who were just treading water, waiting until they could take early retirement, and they were now 'stuck there' for another few years... then another few years.

The behaviour of the woman in question is fascinating, and it is absolutely typical of someone who knows that she has complete control over the situation. Still, the fact that she was still there, willing to do enough to keep her mind occupied, says that she was ultimately afraid of losing her job, quite possibly because she didn't want to retire. She'd been used to getting her own way, and I'd bet that this new system was not where her behaviour started.

I think one mistake is to think that you don't mind giving her more training. She clearly milked that situation and enjoyed the attention of having that attention all to herself.

When we helped a High Street retailer develop a new graduate program, we 'modeled' the unconscious beliefs and thought processes of their high performers in three roles, and for the store managers we found that the highest performers, both in terms of hard KPIs and staff feedback, were the ones who did not use coaching methods to nurture and support staff, which is what they had been trained to do in their development program. Instead, the high performers had very clear boundaries, and the instant that someone was late or behaved in any other unacceptable way, the manager engaged the disciplinary process immediately. There were no private chats, no arm-round-the-shoulder, no offers of help. Just a clear message that the team relies on everyone to do their job, and if you don't want to do your job then that's not a problem, find another. One manager said that, 4 times out of 5, he never had another problem with that person and they performed perfectly. The 1 out of 5 generally repeated the problem over and over and was fired - following the HR process to the letter. The 'coaching' managers couldn't ever engage the disciplinary process, because they had already gotten too personally involved in the employee's sob stories.

There's a sample of the report from this project on our website, www.askrevelation.com which you can download. It has the detail of the store manager's role in it.

As a minimum, it will show you how to avoid getting dragged into situations like the one described by the original poster, "hlb".

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