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When Your New Manager Has Unexpected Difficulties

May 16, 2011

By: Carletta Clyatt

Eight months ago you were so impressed with the performance of one of your computer programmers that you promoted him to an open management position. You had high hopes for his continued job success, as he was very experienced, loyal, and responsible.

New Manager DifficultiesHowever, things turned out differently than you’d hoped; the last eight months have been taxing on both your new manager and his department.   

This is a difficult, though common, situation. Of course, as a senior manager you must do what is best for the company. However, you don’t want any action taken to increase your new manager’s anxiety level, as he has already proven his worth to the organization. On the other hand, you’ve got to think about what is necessary for the department, as you’re concerned about further alienating or losing members of its staff.  

Compounding the situation is the fact that it is not always “non-management types” who have problems with management responsibilities.  

Well known to many is the transformation of the superstar salesperson turned horrible manager. In sales, her extremely aggressive and impatient nature meant fast and frequent results. As a manager, though, she made little effort to train struggling employees, her administrative duties went neglected, and she even wound up keeping the best sales prospects for herself, which seriously frustrated her staff.  

Regardless of the personality type having management difficulties, it is never recommendable to brush problems under the carpet. Many successful senior managers agree that situations like these need to be addressed directly.  

The first step is to approach the manager and be up-front about your concerns. Make sure you allow an open dialogue to take place, wherein difficulties and even excuses can be expressed freely to you. At the same time, do not mask your intention to remedy the situation. Unless a staff revolt is imminent, you should be able to provide the manager with another chance to bring employee morale, productivity, or both, up to acceptable levels. Remain positive but indicate you will evaluate progress after a specific amount of time.  

Secondly, provide specific recommendations. Assume that your manager has tried his best and just does not know how to proceed. Here is where knowledge of personality type is critical. If he was give the Omnia Profile® before the promotion, examine the contents of the report and call your Omnia client relations manager to further evaluate the situation.  

In the absence of a recent Profile, provide one for him to take and indicate that the exercise is a part of a larger effort to determine and correct problems in a manner helpful to all. A new Profile will help you identify signs of stress and determine if there is a tendency to be too blunt, controlling, resistant to change, over-extended, lenient, or soft. Make recommendations or provide assistance based upon your findings.  

After auditing performance for the allotted time period you should know whether or not your one-time top performer is presently unsuited to the new management role. If he was unable to turn the situation around, the responsibility becomes yours. Before addressing him directly and detailing the reasons for your decision, find a challenge more in line with his talents. This way, you can make stepping down from a management role seem more like a lateral career move.

Carletta Clyatt

Carletta Clyatt, a popular seminar speaker, is the SVP at The Omnia Group. She offers clients advice on how to manage more effectively and gain insight into employee strengths, weaknesses and behaviors. For more information about employee behavioral assessments, call Carletta at 813-280-3026 or email:

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