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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.


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.


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.

  1. 4 Answers 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

  3. I would recommend having a real conversation with the new person and see what his vision is. From here you may be able to guide him back to the path where everyone was comfortable, happy, and progressing.

    By ready and willing on Nov 30, 2014

  4. We are consulting firm and requirement is to work out of client location as part of consulting projects. One of my peer who is at same level and part of implementation team coordinates with clients. I am not sure what he has spoken about me however, whenever client speaks with me, it comes across as I am being viewed as liability than an asset. In my role as strategist and one who identifies risks and oversees project’s process and implementation adherence; there are many times my counter part or peer sends negative feedback about me and my capabilities to my internal management team. I have analysed that my productivity and capability is not an issue.
    Once in 15days there is one feedback related to my capabilities and another fortnight about my people skills and next about me sharing negative feedback about a peer with client.

    All of the above feedback is incorrect as I haven’t shared any details with my client. One of my friend who works with same organization told me to play politics by taking the client in confidence and sharing the same feedback for peer. He also shared that there is nothing wrong with me in terms of capabilities, productivity. The thing is my peer is threatened with my organized way of working. If my performance, organized way of working and planning is compared, the peer falls short on all the parameters and leaves him no room to make mistakes and if he does, it will be compared with me and show his poor performance. I am unsure if I should go ahead with it. I am very honest and straightforward persona and don’t know how to play such kind of politics. I need help and advice. I dont want it to negatively backfire me. So what sort of consequences will I face if I apply my friends strategy and pls advice if there is better strategy.

    I have taken multiple attempts to talk to my peer however all invain. He does not respond if I go ahead and talk to him after such an incident. There is this weird smile on his face when I approach him after he has escalated things to my internal management. I am unable to comprehend this behaviour. Also, his boss supports the things which are escalated.
    Secondly my HOD and my peers boss donot see eye to eye. Hence my friend states that I may not see any support coming in from my boss either.

    By Zak on May 16, 2015

  5. A very trick situation especially now that the new hire is overseeing a team. No doubt some subtle but very critical things were missed out during the hiring process but now there impacts is rearing an ugly head. It’s important to let your replacement have an appreciation of the new environment culture. Rather than wait tillthe next exit interview, find a professional way of engaging the whole team and finding out exactly how they fair on with the new arrangement without making it sound prosecutive of the new hire. To address the matter substantially, you need to get the very specific concerns that are making the team members opt for separation from the firm. This will guide your next recruitment in case the current individual has to finally leave the role.

    By Stephen Ogolla on Jan 10, 2017

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