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Last Issue's Dilemma:
What can I do about the icicle dangling from my nose?
Recently I was chosen to be my company's new events manager, and it's gotten quite chilly around here. Two of my team members had also applied for the job. I've heard they aren't too happy with my promotion and they've been questioning my abilities.
I'm worried their attitude might affect how successful we are at the events we attend -- and my career. Should I talk to them about this situation? Or ignore them? Or try to find some way to protect myself? Help!
-- Debbie, Events Manager
Don't count on the spring thaw to warm up your team
Debbie, if you ever tried out for a school team, cheer leading squad or applied for a job you really wanted, only to be rejected, you should have a pretty good idea of how your team members feel about now. It's hard to shrug off disappointment. It's harder still to be nice to someone who has something you think you deserve.
But you can overcome your team members' resentment and put an end to the sniping. It's just going to take action on your part -- now. Our readers advise you to:
- Understand where your team members are coming from.
- Be the consummate professional.
- Build a strong team.
Understand where your team members are coming from
Put yourself in your team members' shoes, so to speak. Then, think about how you'd feel if you'd been the one who was passed over -- honestly.
Terrie Holahan, manager of tradeshows/events with AtriCure, Inc., explains what you should do next.
"Unfortunately, it may stay a bit chilly for awhile. Hurt feelings over a missed promotion are hard to get over, even if you sit down and have that awkward conversation. Still, open up with your team members about how you've heard they're disappointed they didn't get the promotion (probably best handled in individual meetings), and let them express how they feel. Incorporate goal setting (monthly, quarterly) into this conversation so they feel they have something to contribute."
Be the consummate professional
Other readers feel the best way to handle this situation is to prove to one and all that you deserve to be the boss -- and behave like you do.
Rick Rinderle, corporate events and speaker program manager at Alcatel-Lucent, reminds you of the adage, "Actions speak louder than words."
"Hi, Debbie. Focus on the work at hand. It's obvious you were promoted as you have the skill set, aptitude and professionalism to take on the job. In time, your team members will see the quality of your work and the merits of your qualities. If they can't, you'll see why they weren't chosen for the job.
"Maintain professionalism with them at all times, and don't stoop to their level of negativism. Align yourself with positive people interested in the success of the work to be done."
A COO details how to demonstrate your leadership.
"Remember you're the boss now. Give directions, and make sure they're followed. If an issue arises involving their workflow or lack of work, address it. Delegate, and make sure they follow through. If you're unsure about something, get back to them on it in a timely manner. Exude confidence and knowledge. Over time, if you follow through, make sure everyone is doing his or her part and show you do have the ability to lead and aren't afraid to stand up for what's expected, you'll gain their trust and respect for the job you do."
Terrie Holahan suggests you also let the higher-ups know they were right to give you the job.
"Weekly, monthly or quarterly reports to your own bosses will help increase your credibility and should help silence the questions about your skills. You were promoted for a reason, so make sure you back it up with documentation. Finally, check out professional organizations you can join, and look into earning a certification such as CMP, CTSM, CME, etc. These satellite activities help build your own credibility as well as further your career. Good luck!"
Build a strong team
You can't do everything by yourself. And you can't get your job done if others are fighting you every step of the way. So, for everybody's sake, you need to get your staff to act like a real team.
Frank Velasquez, worldwide sales manager for Davis Instruments, Inc., writes that teamwork is essential -- with you as the captain at the helm.
"Sorry to say, Debbie, but we all must overcome at some time in our professional lives the ugly monster that is office politics. However, the potential -- and success -- of teamwork is well documented. Teams excel at producing high-quality work, boosting productivity and inspiring company loyalty. But to get these results, team relationships must be strong. Achieving peak performance from any group takes dedication, focus and discipline, and the connections between players need to be reinforced continuously.
"Foster a teamwork atmosphere. Set ground rules for the team early on. Establish how team members will make decisions, define goals, manage meetings, handle communications and resolve conflicts. Once the team is working together, they can focus on taking ownership of the mission, strategy and tactics, so be clear about your expectations, and gain the team's buy-in by clearly stating shared goals and responsibilities.
"Empower your players. Teams do best when they have the authority to get jobs done. The bottom line is people want to feel their efforts are recognized and appreciated. And let your team know your promotion in no way minimizes their responsibilities and contributions. United, you all can win. Divided, all fail. Good Luck."
Debbie, the climate in your office is undoubtedly going to be chilly, for awhile at least. But if you understand how your team members feel, show everyone why you should be the boss and work to create a cohesive team, they'll warm up to you -- and the idea of having you for a boss. It's up to you to get the temperatures rising.