Is this an advisable move?

We have had an employee who would be considered a Workplace Bully. After about a year of her antics the new manager got down on her hard and wrote her up three times consecutively.

His actions were successful in-as-far as turning her behavior around. Outwardly she has become polite, cooperative and professional in demeanor (though rumor has it that she continues to complain about him to other nay-sayers. I don't know if he's aware of that or not). In her last evaluation he even wrote about the turn-around and encouraged her to continue. Her improved behavior has continued for 6-8 months.

The dilemma is this: He wants to move her to a less important position now. It probably won't affect her pay, but the prestige will be removed.
Her title is Executive Assistant and she would be moved to a Technician position.

Since no formal action was taken on the written reprimands, they were removed from her file. The only "documentation" is the improved performance review.

If she chose to fight it, would she likely be reinstated to Exec Asst?


  • 10 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Is the reason for the demotion due to the "bullying"? If she has improved, why would he want to move her to another position. She had an improvement plan and she improved. I guess I don't understand.
  • The reason he wants to move her is that she had been in a position of trust (she was, in part, the Board secretary) and she used that position to influence Board members against him and many others.

    He has given her new duties that don't involve her with the Board, but she has retained other parts of that job description. He now wants to hire someone to do ALL of what she does/has done. The new person would be the Exec Asst and she would be a Technician. He needs someone he can trust. I'm just afraid it could backfire.
  • Too late now, but this is a good example of why I wouldn't remove the reprimands from the file so quickly. Wait to make sure the reformation is real and lasting.
  • I don't ever remove warnings from employee files, unless they were invalid and an investigations shows they never should have been done in the first place. Do you have a union contract that requires the removal? I do tell the employees who ask that, with time and no further infractions, the warnings become more and more meaningless, esp. after a year.

    On what basis would she chose to fight it? That she's a woman and he's hiring a man? That could look pretty bad for your company.

    Is is possible to leave her intact as an Exec Asst and hire an Exec Administrator, and reorganize the job duties so the company/department runs more effectively?

    Good luck with all this - sometimes these situations get very complicated.
  • No, they were removed by the manager because no action was taken against her. And no, the replacement is also a woman.

    That's a good suggestion about reorganizing. I'll see if that "flies". Thank you.
  • This isn't helpful but it does seem that the manager is going about this process backwards. The best time to have demoted the EE was when the behavior problems were happening.

    Now, after 6-8 months of improved behavior (at least on the surface) he wants to demote her. Its going to send a mixed message to the employee other staff members.

    Ok, that's the unhelpful part. What can you do now? I think you could do any number of things.

    1. Tell the manager he missed his opportunity to demote the employee and you aren't willing to send the message that an employee's efforts to improve are meaningless in the eyes of management.

    2. Make the change as requested by the manager and deal with the aftershocks from the ee and other employees.

    3. Work around the employee as has been mentioned. Reassign duties. Leave the pay and title but re-allocate responsibilities that require trust to the new position.

    #1 is probably the most principled. #2 is probably the easiest. And #3 is probably the least explosive.

    I hope that's helpful. Good luck!

  • It is helpful...and I'll need the good luck!Thanks.

  • Has the manager had a one-on-one meeting with the employee to define or redefine the relationship? It seems to me that there are some underlying issues between the two of them that could merit some investigating.

    Also, I've interviewed with companies where the plant manager expected me to challenge his decisions to make sure that he was making good decisions after looking at all angles rather than having "yes-men". How does the manager respond to the exec. sec. suggestions? If the exec. sec. is no longer providing useful input and is complaining behind his back, then the exec. probably doesn't want to be there. A heart to heart between the exec. sec. and the manager could probably clear the air.
  • Let me give you another option. If this person is going to the Board to enhance their influence and using such influence to bully others, this type of behavior is very hard to root out permanently. Remember, people repeat patterns of successful behavior. If you can stand it, sit back and wait for it to happen again, then take the confidential responsibilities away. There may be some damage to this and your manager may not be happy, but it is a more bullet proof way. It is not the ideal way but all things come to he who waits.
  • I've found that people who display this type of behavior never really change...they find other ways to exhibit it.

    Ideally, this person should have been terminated for this type of behavior, but in reality, sometimes they are maintained for various reasons. I would never take this type of documentation out of someone's could be very useful if you had to go back and revisit the same behavior.

    We had this type of issue last year and the bully and her "co'bully" left the company about the same time. The peace and tranquility after these two left reinforced our suspicions that they were the cause of a lot of dissention in the workplace.
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