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How To Handle Employees Who Think They Are the Boss

When you are a manager or part of the leadership team, dealing with employees who think they are the boss can be challenging. This is a common problem in many working environments, and it can often lead to tension and conflict.

But with the right amount of patience, rules, and feedback, you can handle this situation delicately and effectively.

To help steer you in the right direction, let’s break down some tips for how to handle employees who think they are the boss.

Establish a Clear Chain of Command and Make Sure Employees Are Aware of It

As a business owner or manager, it can be frustrating when employees think they are the boss.

Of course, you want your team to be confident and take initiative, but you also need to ensure a clear chain of command. When everyone knows who is in charge, it can help avoid conflict and confusion. Otherwise, decisions will get made without your input, essential tasks will fall through the cracks, and you will spend all day working on problems rather than optimizing your business.

You can establish a clear chain of command by:

  • Creating job descriptions and roles and ensuring every team member is aware of them.

  • Explaining what their roles and responsibilities are and giving them specific instructions on how to complete tasks.

  • Making sure they know that they need to come to you with questions or concerns.

  • Leading by example. Be the type of boss you want them to be: confident but not egotistical, decisive but open to input, etc.

  • Conducting frequent employee evaluations.

Set Rules and Expectations for Employee Behavior and Enforce Them Consistently

When an employee thinks they are the boss, it can often be because they are not following the rules or expectations you have set for them. To avoid this problem, set clear rules and expectations for employee behavior and enforce them consistently.

Some examples of rules and expectations you may want to set include:

  • Coming to work on time.

  • Dressing appropriately.

  • Respecting others.

  • Following the chain of command.

  • Taking breaks as scheduled.

If an employee is not following these rules, address the issue immediately. Explain what they did wrong and why it was a problem. Then, give them a warning or take appropriate disciplinary action. By setting clear rules and expectations and enforcing them consistently, you can help avoid problems with employees who think they are the boss.

Encourage Communication Among Employees and Between Employees and Managers

Many managers agree that effective communication is the key to a successful team. When everyone is on the same page, things tend to run much more smoothly. However, this can be difficult to achieve when you have an employee acting like a manager. These individuals may try to take control of conversations and undermine your authority.

To prevent this from happening, it is essential to:

  • Encourage communication among all employees. This includes giving everyone a chance to voice their opinion, encouraging open dialogue, and promoting a team-based approach.

  • Keep lines of communication open between employees and managers. This way, employees feel comfortable coming to you with questions or concerns.

By fostering a culture of communication, you can help ensure that everyone on your team feels valued and respected.

Address Problems or Concerns as Soon as They Arise

Dealing with employees who want to run the show can be frustrating and challenging.

It is vital to address these problems or concerns as soon as they arise. Ignoring them will only allow the situation to fester and become even more problematic.

There are a few things you can do to deal with this issue, including:

  • Try to understand what made the employee feel this way. There may be a reason behind it, such as feeling undervalued or unappreciated or having a poor work-life balance. If you can identify the root cause, you may be able to address it and resolve the issue.

  • Have a conversation with the employee. Explain that their behavior is causing problems and ask them to change it. If they are unwilling or unable to do so, you may need to take disciplinary action.

  • Set boundaries and be prepared to take further action, including firing the problem employee if necessary. By addressing the issue head-on, you can help resolve it before it gets out of hand.

Looking for More HR Tips, Tricks, and Templates?

We’ve got you covered. At Teamworks, we help companies all across the country optimize their HR processes, and we’d love to help, too. If you’re looking for more guidance, check out our HR software solution or take a look at our additional HR resources.


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