Lesson 031: Managing contentious employees
TV Series: Star Trek - The Next Generation
Season/Episode: 7/5 ('Gambit: Part II')


When Capt. Picard and Riker are taken aboard an enemy ship, Data assumes command of the Enterprise and promotes the Chief of Security, Lt. Worf, to the position of Second in Command known as First Officer (Number One).

Worf soon begins to show his dissention of Data's decisions and commands.

At one point, Worf even shows his annoyance and disregard for Data's decision by muttering his sour feelings under his breath in front of subordinates.

Hearing Worf's muffled tirade, Data pulls Worf aside and informs Worf of his dissatisfaction with Worf's performance as First Officer. By continually questioning Data's orders in front of the crew and publically showing his disdain for disagreements with Data's command decisions, Worf is failing to do his duties in the role of First Officer.

Data educates Worf on the primary function of the First Officer, which is to offer alternatives, if there are any, on command decisions, and then to follow out the Captain's orders, regardless of how he feels about the order, and especially if he disagrees with the order.

Data gives Worf the directive to carry out his duties as described for the First Officer and refrain from making any further exhibitions of irritation or disagreement with command decisions in public; otherwise, Worf will be removed from the position of First Officer.

Worf regrets his bad behavior and asks to remain as First Officer.


In order for management to retain proper control and be successful, there must be absolute respect shown for the management position from all subordinates.

It is management's duty to make the tough decisions and to take the necessary risks involved to achieve success in any endeavor. While it is acceptable for management to seek out alternatives from their staff, so as to make the best possible decision, it does not mean that the manager is relinquishing their management position.

In most organizations, management encourages staff to submit their input on many management-type decisions regarding tasks or the organization. However, when the management does make its final decision, the staff is expected to follow it without question. Should the decision turn out to be in error, then it is the management who will bear the responsibility and the consequences, not the staff.

Management should always maintain a very low tolerance threshold for any staff member who pursues a line of contentious behavior towards management.

Staff should be allowed to disagree with their managers, however, not be belligerent or disrespectful, especially in a public forum. Such spoiled-brat type behavior and attitudes aimed at management usually indicate an individual only interested in seeking self-attention, and must be dealt with immediately and sternly.

It is better to remove these personalities from the group quickly than to let them fester like an open wound and infect the rest of the body.

If the disgruntlement is just as a issue of adjustment, such as with Worf recognizing Data as the new Captain, then immediate attention given to the individual can highlight the problem and help to bring about a quick and clear resolution.

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