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The New Guy I Hired is Hated…

Text illustration by Franke James; cactus ©istockphoto.com/Marcin Rychly

Dear Office Politics,

I recently received a promotion and hired my replacement; however, everyone who now reports to him hates him. He is a very talented manager of work, but lacks charisma and needs to improve on his people skills. We have lost a couple of good people due to his arrival, and a lot of other changes within the organization. I am working hard to help this manager develop but when do I give up for the sake of the team?

Please help.

Manager

OFFICE-POLITICS ADVISER ERIKA ANDERSEN
erika andersen

Dear Manager,

This is a tough one. It’s always hard to let someone go; it’s much harder when you’ve hired the person – and harder yet when you’ve hired him or her to replace you. I can only imagine how deeply you want to make this work. And that’s all too likely to cloud your judgment about what’s happening. You say he “lacks charisma and needs to improve on his people skills” – but that’s pretty generic and mild: there are a lot of not-very-charismatic managers with not-great people skills who don’t engender hatred in their employees and cause good people to leave the organization!

So, I’d suggest you do everything possible to be truly objective. Here’s what I’d suggest:

1. Get really clear about what he’s doing that doesn’t work. How can you do that? Ask. And really listen. For instance, if you can do post-exit interviews with the folks who’ve left, that would be really helpful. Or perhaps there’s someone at this person’s level whose discretion and perceptions you trust. Whoever you talk to, get very curious. Dig down into what they tell you in order to get to behaviors. If the person you’re talking to says, for instance, “he’s arrogant,” ask “What does that look like?” or “Can you give me an example?” He or she might then say, “Whenever someone else has an idea, he immediately disagrees and talks at length about how his idea is better.” Bingo! That’s an actual behavior. And remember – you’re just trying to gather information here: resist the temptation to explain or defend the manager’s behavior, or your sources will shut right down.

2. Then, use what you’ve learned to set the bar for him. I’d suggest you select what you think are the three highest-leverage things for him to change (those things that you think would have the biggest positive impact on those around him). Then explain them to him, ask if he thinks he can change them, and – if so – decide if he can change them himself (unlikely) or if he needs a coach or some skill training to help him learn new behaviors. Agree on a time-frame for improvement (3-4 months is generally reasonable). Let him know that his continued employment is dependent on the improvement you’ve agreed upon (it’s critical that he know the consequences).

3. Throughout the trial period, do your level best to provide balanced feedback. If you see improvement, say that. If you see him doing the behaviors he’s agreed to stop or change, say that.

4. At the end of the trial period, fish or cut bait. This is the hardest part. If he hasn’t improved, or has only improved marginally, let him go. Free him, as a client of mine used to say, “to take his considerable talents elsewhere.” You’ve given him a fair and reasonable chance, and he is clearly unwilling or unable to change.

Hope this is helpful – please let us know how it goes. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a positive outcome.

Thanks for writing to Office Politics.

Warmly,

Erika Andersen, Author

Erika Andersen is the author of Leading So People Will Follow, Being Strategic and Growing Great Employees. She is the founder of Proteus International, where she has served as consultant and advisor to CEOs and top executives around the world. Erika and her colleagues at Proteus International, the company she founded in 1990, offer practical approaches for individuals and organizations to clarify and move toward their hoped-for-future. Much of Erika’s work focuses on vision and strategy, executive coaching, and culture change. Erika’s bio continues

To celebrate our 11th birthday offering advice on OfficePolitics.com, we’re re-publishing some of our best Office-Politics letters. This classic letter is also featured in the game-book “Dear Office-Politics“, available on Amazon.

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  1. One Answer to “The New Guy I Hired is Hated…”

  2. This article peeked my interest because it is so common in the work place. One problem for those employees that chose to leave the company may have been due to reasons that they felt they should have been in the running for that position and yet someone was brought in on top of them. Conflict of interest is what I call it. Another point I would make is to send the new replacement to some management classes on how to improve your people skills, charisma, etc. Also, she should go back to the staff and hold a group member staff meeting to ensure the employees a team players are best for the company. If all else fails after lengthy discussions and positive opportunities are offered then it is time to send that person the pink slip.

    By Tina Knott on Feb 15, 2013

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