In any workplace where there are many workers there are an equal number of personalities, each contributing toward the overall workplace environment in some way. As a manager, it’s part of your job to help balance these personalities, smoothing out rough interactions so as to create a working environment that leads to greater productivity and efficiency. When one of the employees under you exhibits a bossy personality, however, this can be difficult. The bossy employee often attempts to dominate those around him, creating ill will in his wake. Restoring the balance can be difficult, but if successful, you can remove the bossiness from the situation, channeling the employee’s enthusiasm into more productive directions instead.
Observe the bossy behavior to determine the intent behind the employee’s actions. Try to determine if the employee is trying to be helpful with the behavior, not knowing it comes across as bossy, or if the employee is trying to take over employee interactions in an attempt to enforce his own will. Write down examples of bossy behavior that had a negative effect on the co-worker or resulted negatively on the work at hand. Take note of anything leading to a project delay, extra work or the bossy employee stepping outside of his scope of responsibility to interfere in another worker's area.
Set up a meeting with the bossy employee in your office. Meeting in a location that shows your level in the company hierarchy above the employee's job can help to underscore your comparative positions while allowing you the freedom to keep the conversation at a friendly level.
Inform the employee that you’re trying to defuse a situation that you’ve noticed in the office. Tell the employee that you’ve noticed difficulties between him and co-workers stemming mostly through a misunderstanding of job responsibilities. Discuss the employee’s position and what it entails, specifically whether it has any supervisory responsibilities, and find out if there is a miscommunication concerning those responsibilities. Take the time to explain that the separate areas of responsibilities exist so that the team members can function together knowing precisely what their job functions are, and that when someone goes out of those areas, it can lead to delays or miscommunications.
Go through your list of incidents, explaining what you see as the issue. Do not suggest it's because the employee is bossy, but do point out that the issues all stem from the employee taking it upon himself to assume a supervisory role over another employee. In addition, point out that the time spent on unneeded supervision of others is taking away from time he has for his own projects and job responsibilities.
Offer the bossy employee an opportunity to write up a report about those things that the employee feels should be changed rather than attempting to make the changes or direct co-workers himself. Ensure the employee that you would read such a report and if you find a change worthwhile, you will implement it and make certain the report and resultant improvement go into the employee’s records for when promotion or salary considerations occur.
End the conversation by restating your desire that the employees interact as smoothly and friction-free as possible. State that you’re always willing to hear any reasonable complaints. Reiterate however, that you cannot have the employees assuming responsibilities for themselves and that ordering around co-workers must stop immediately.
Continue to monitor the situation to ensure that there is a change in the bossy employee’s behavior. If you note continued bossy behavior, then set up a meeting with the employee and the company human resources department to discuss options for a change in job within the organization or the pursuit of work elsewhere, where the employee would be less of a disruption.
Larry Simmons is a freelance writer and expert in the fusion of computer technology and business. He has a B.S. in economics, an M.S. in information systems, an M.S. in communications technology, as well as significant work towards an M.B.A. in finance. He's published several hundred articles with Demand Studios.