You have been promoted to the position of manager of the department. You’ve worked together with most of your direct reports for many years. As a peer, you have had good working relationships with everyone in the area. At least one of your peers also applied for the manager position. Because of the department’s relatively flat organizational structure, employees have not had many opportunities for promotion. Most of the employees have worked in the same area for most of their work history. As you are settling in to your new role, you feel that some of your former peers, Sydney and Alex, are not taking you seriously as the new supervisor. You have given some directions about how you want certain projects handled, only to see some of the staff ignore you and complete the projects in other ways. When you have addressed this, they both have given reasons such as, “The old way is better,” “What’s the big deal?” and “With the equipment we have, we had to do it that way.”
- Do nothing. You imagine it will take time for all staff to get adjusted to you as the supervisor. You decide to let it ride and see what happens.
- Call a meeting, inviting everyone in the department and your own supervisor. Lay down the law about who is in charge.
- Discuss the situation with your boss; come up with a plan to address the issue with the staff involved. Step back from your feelings of frustration.
Possible outcomes for #1, Do Nothing:
- Sydney and Alex (and everyone else) see that you accept their behavior. Staff need time to adjust to a new supervisor, particularly when a former peer becomes a supervisor. Doing nothing communicates that you accept their behavior.
- Sydney and /or Alex step up the behavior; “Time to do it our way.”What was a small problem may turn into a runaway train. Until you address the issue, you are communicating that you accept their behavior.
- After some time, the Sydney and Alex adjust their behavior and accept your directions. This might happen but most likely it won't.
Possible outcomes for #2, Call a meeting, inviting everyone in the department and your own supervisor. Lay down the law about who is in charge:
- All staff get the message that you are in charge. This is one way to be clear. Is it the best way?
- Sydney and Alex start avoiding you in office social situations. They might feel hurt or confused. You addressed the issue with everyone, but was it an "everyone" issue? You also brought your boss in, which might embarrass the staff, especially staff that were not involved in the issue.
- Alex and Sydney get angry. They might feel your approach is heavy-handed, especially if you had not addressed the issue with any of the staff. Now, you may have have more problems asserting your new supervisory status.
Possible outcomes for #3, Discuss the situation with your boss; come up with a plan to address the issue with the staff involved. Step back from your feelings of frustration:
- Sydney and Alex challenge you on the issue. They may not understand the "big deal." When you were in their position, did you take supervisory direction well? Is this a change in your own behavior?
- Alex and Sydney change their behaviors, but still criticize your choices. Have you explained why you want staff to do things a certain way? Is this a change from past practices?
- Sydney and Alex see their behaviors are a problem and agree to change. Individually addressing Alex and Sydney and working to make sure they see the problem makes it easier to then work together towards a solution.