How to act when staff rebel against new manager
Posted Wednesday, July 4 2012 at 16:55
Assess the whole business
- As opposed to asking the leader how she is relating with the workers, find out how she is settling down — this is the bigger picture with a focus on problems affecting operations and how to fix them.
- Ask the manager whether she enjoys the needed space to make decisions. She could be finding it difficult to operate not knowing about the owner’s position.
- Walk the shop floor and ask the employees how they feel the business is doing: progress, their happiness, the new manager’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Act decisively. If you are the problem, get out of everyone's way. If it's the manager, proceed carefully - firing should be as a last resort. If it's the employees, talk to some about the transition or throw a party for them to interact with the manager.
A year ago I reached the point where I needed someone to help me manage the business.
I’m confident that my new manager works with the company’s best interests in mind, but I have heard she is causing them stress.
Her behaviour has even led to the resignations of some longtime workers. I don’t want to fire her because I think she is honest. What should I do?
Name withheld, Colombia
When a business founder steps away from day-to-day operations and brings in someone from outside to run things, some seasoned staff may feel slighted while others may react negatively to a new manager’s style.
It is a tough change to execute — many small and midsize businesses fail to make this transition.
First, your instinct to remove yourself from the situation was the right one —I did this myself!
It will help you to find the next great opportunities for your company and give you time to work out how to capitalise on them.
And your decision not to fire your manager straight away was the right one.
It’s important that you get this right, because if you assemble a great team — one that understands your vision for the business and can come up with creative solutions to problems — it will expand your effectiveness exponentially.
But you need to work out quickly why there is such tension at your company.
Sit down with your new manager and ask her how she feels she is doing. Don’t just talk with her about her relations with the staff, but also try to get a sense of the larger picture.
Find out what problems she sees affecting the business, how she is trying to fix them, and how that process is going. Her difficulties with the staff may be prompted by her frustration or insecurity.
Sometimes the founder’s shadow can make managers jittery, affecting how they deal with employees.