How To Handle The Existing Manager You Are Replacing
You are excited…just received a job offer as Manager of your own department. There will be many challenges ahead as you begin to handle your new responsibilities. One situation that will immediately challenge you is if you are replacing an existing manager in those responsibilities. Though it’s the company’s decision to transfer the management responsibilities to you, you will have to deal with the reaction from the existing individual.
First, congratulate yourself for receiving the recognition that you have strong leadership and management skills and are talented in your field. Knowing that you have the ability to manage employees will guide you in handling any employee related situation that comes you way.
What works for me when I’m anxious or resistant to handling a difficult employee related situation, I just step back from the situation, take three deep breaths and state my ability to find the right solution to any employee challenge. Why is this important? When you center yourself, you show up in the situation clearer, more confident and structure the situation better. This confidence will guide your through any challenging employee related situation.
Here are some thoughts around handling the existing manager who has been replaced by you:
- The individual was replaced because they were not able to handle the full scope of the position. The company decided to keep this employee because they can still contribute to the department.
- They have knowledge…information that you need to step into your role smoothly.
- They feel vulnerable regarding their job as well as embarrassed that they haven’t met the essential functions as a manager.
- They want to be recognized as providing value to the department.
- They will probably not exhibit vulnerability, but rather anger, passivity or challenging your abilities to handle the role.
What can you do to build a relationship with this individual?
- Information gathering…Ask your manager or read the employee’s file so you can understand their previous strengths and weaknesses. I say previous because your leadership could potentially bring out or enhance their strengths. Their management responsibilities may have hampered their abilities.
- Listen…this is your greatest skill in any difficult situation. Ask questions and listen to verbal and non-verbal answers.
- Respect…Before meeting with the individual assume the person has the right to your respect. When you filter your thoughts, questions and interactions with an employee through respect, you will be able to build a stronger relationship. Even if you decide an employee can’t handle the essential functions of a job, you can handle the situation with respect.
- Openness…Engage the employee around the change. It’s good to discuss the ‘moose’ in the middle of the table. The ‘moose’ is that they were removed from their management responsibilities. Be open about what happened and how you can support them in the transition. You have a great opportunity to reframe their thinking about the situation. They could potentially be relieved they no longer have to deal with the responsibilities.
- Clarity…For this employee it’s important that you provide clarity around expectations of their performance and behavior. Request their support in creating a strong department. People want to feel good about their contribution.
- Trust…Everyone seeks comfort in a situation, so listen to what each person needs to perform at his or her best. Your response to their needs will be the stepping-stones to building a strong working relationship.
As a new manager, you need to give some time to managing your relationship with your employees. For the manager you are replacing, set a time for yourself; say 6 weeks with your active participation in building the relationship. If you have done all of the above and the employee still resists your role as manager, then you will need to address that issue. Don’t wait too long because negative behaviors become embedded between people and it’s more difficult to entangle and change.
Managing Employee’s Expectations
Are You A ‘People Friendly’ Manager?
Recognition – Ways to Motivate Your Employees
Asking the Right Questions
Brian Tracy speaks to corporate and public audiences on the subjects of Personal and Professional Development, including the executives and staff of many of America’s largest corporations. I have purchased several of his CDs and have found that he presents the information in a clear, systematic and informative manner. “The Science of Self-Confidence” is great to purchase for yourself and your employees. Bring the tools in house so that employees can focus on building their confidence.