update: dealing with a problematic member of a board games group

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

There will be more posts than usual this week, so keep checking back throughout the day.

Remember the letter-writer who was dealing with a problematic member of a board games group? Here’s the update.

The update is a mixed one!

The bad news is that we ended up asking Q to leave the group last week. This was because the behaviours we had spoken to him about twice were repeating, and one member was planning to leave because of Q’s behaviour, and because of a conversation that I had with Q at the session before last.

Q spoke to me at the end of the session. He had apologised in person to the person involved in one of the incidents we had spoken to him about. In short, Q had made a joke which had come across as an insult. The person said that it was all fine ( which could be for a lot of different reasons).

Q thought that due to this the second talk we had with him was totally unwarranted, but he said that he appreciated the reminders.

I sent Q a message last week. I was as kind as I could be, explained the reasons for us asking him to leave, and said that I could be wrong, but maybe he would be happier in a games group which was more serious and played heavier games. Q did not reply, but left the online groups we have for the games group and did not come to the next session.

The reason for sending a message rather than speaking to Q in person was that the only way to speak in person would be to do it at the end of a session. Given the layout of the hall, this would be hard to do without at least one person knowing, and I didn’t like the idea of Q sitting through a session with at least some people knowing that it was the last one.

I discussed it with Kelly, and we agreed that if people asked about Q not being there, we would give a short explanation but that we wouldn’t make a group wide announcement. So far reactions to the update have ranged from sympathy tinged with a comment that he was given two chances to a comment that he was given two clear, fair chances to improve.

It doesn’t feel great to have done it, but it was for the good of the whole group, and I do think that in the long run, Q will be happier in a different games group. We live in a smallish town and the board gaming community is small, so I don’t know if this will happen, realistically, but I hope that it will.

The games group is continuing to grow and thrive, and we have a good buffer built up now. Once we reach a certain amount, I’m hoping to use a local board game rental company (an independent company) at least once for the games group.

We had fourteen people at the session this week (which meant that we were in profit!) and everyone had a good time. I do think that our group had changed so much that Q wasn’t enjoying it as much as he did a couple of years ago, and the group was highly unlikely to change back.

Some of the commenters on the original post suggested considering changing the picking process for games, and we are working on making this quicker.

On a personal note, I also want to say thank you very much for all of the advice in this blog. I’m currently job hunting and using the advice and information here, and your suggested questions to ask at the end of an interview have impressed two interviewers so far!

The jobs I am applying for are to manage a team, as this is what I would like to do (having had experience in a previous job, and as I enjoy running the games group) and while asking Q to leave wasn’t the desired outcome, the process of managing this situation, based on the AAM advice, has been a really valuable experience for me.

I hope that you and all of your readers have a happy and healthy end of the year!