In Need of Advice on Managing a Passive-Aggressive Direct Report
October 26,2022 at 10:33AM UTC
I am a middle manager of a small group of creatives. Just before the pandemic, I made my first hire of someone just out of college. Other than an internship, this is her first job. Immediately after the pandemic started, my management asked me to justify keeping this person - which I did, and with the pandemic creating fewer projects for us, she was able to have a whole year to really practice our style and flourish without a lot of pressure - something no one else on the team has had.
Now, 2.5 years later, she’s pushing for more responsibility - which having had a manager who hid talent and didn’t allow any new responsibilities - I know it is really important not to stifle. But in the meantime, she has become extremely passive-aggressive, jumping in to answer questions when someone is clearly addressing me, having a running bit with a coworker in another department about how she’s the only one who’s always there (I took time off earlier this year after a miscarriage and then getting Covid, and another team member has taken a leave due to ongoing health problems), and just every day making little attempts to “other” me on the team usually relating to how young she and her coworker are, she’s started to gatekeep, and I could go on, but everything amounts to that she’s becoming insufferable. I’ve heard from one other member of the team about it, but it was very vague and not enough to take action. It’s like a train wreck I see coming in the distance, and it’s too soon to explain to everyone else what’s coming.
The problem is, these things are all extremely small aggressions, and explaining them to HR to ask for advice on how to handle the situation seems just as petty as the events. When I originally found out I was pregnant (before the late term miscarriage), my second thought after excitement was, “Oh no, I hope she doesn’t try to take my job while I’m gone.” Which I realized was a whole year ago now. So this problem isn’t going away. I’m at a loss to deal with it, and I would love some advice!
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