He knows exactly how to create problems without violating any policies.

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Q: As a new supervisor, I don’t know what to do about one of my employees. “Bert” used to be our boss until I replaced him a few months ago. After 20 years, he was forced to step down by the owner of the company. He’s been acting like a spiteful 65-year-old child ever since.

Having been a supervisor, Bert knows exactly how to create problems without violating any policies. He undermines my decisions and creates conflict in the group. I’ve thought about going to human resources, but I don’t know if that’s appropriate. What do you think?

A: Although Bert’s behavior is clearly unacceptable, it’s not at all surprising. Being demoted after two decades is tough, and reporting to a former employee makes it even more humiliating. So despite his inappropriate antics, try to have some compassion for his predicament.

Because this problem is too tricky for a novice supervisor to handle, discuss Bert’s disruptive actions with your boss and HR manager. They can help you develop a plan for getting him back in line. While Bert’s embarrassment may be understandable, it’s no excuse for stirring up trouble.

Submit questions to Marie G. McIntyre at yourofficecoach.com.