My employee doesn’t listen to me.

I manage one person in a large company. He reports to me; I’m his boss. When I hired him I was very clear about the fact that part of the job was administrative and support work. He has worked for me for about a year, and as time goes by, he’s more and more reluctant to do the assistant-type jobs and will often say he’s too busy, or that he’ll do it later, by which time I usually do it myself.

Last week I asked him to print out and collate some reports for me, and he said he had a lot to do and that he thought it would be easier if I just did it. I repeated my request, but it’s been days and he hasn’t done it yet. He’s right; I could do this myself. But if my boss or anyone above me in the company asked me to do something, I’d drop whatever I was doing and get it done right away. Should I press the issue with the printing and collating task in order to make a point, or should I just do it myself and talk to him about it when his review comes up later in the year?


If you were my boss, I’d say no to you, too. I’d take long lunches and sneak out for coffee breaks and spend half the day on the internet and the other half making long-distance calls from my work phone. You’re kind of a pansy, and I also don’t get it. Why wouldn’t you want to make him do stuff? My favorite thing in the whole world is telling people what to do. As a matter of fact, I think I’m going to ask for an assistant for Christmas.

Think about it: you asked him to do something. He said no. You asked him again. He ignored you. He’s a crappy employee, and you’re an ineffective manager. Instead of doing your own photocopying for the next six months while your assistant updates his Twitter feed and continues to undermine you so he can scramble right over you on the corporate ladder, put a stop to it. You’re not asking him to do a personal favor, and you really shouldn’t give a shit if he likes you or not, so stop being so afraid of him.

Go right now. Yes, now! Say, “Dick, I know you’re busy today, but I need those reports printed and assembled immediately. I’d like them by two o’clock.” Then walk away. Don’t ask him, don’t say please, don’t sound like you’re not sure you should be telling him what to do. Do your job, and make him do his. You’re not going to get very far in your career if you can’t be assertive.

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