Being a New Manager Is Not Simple or Easy


The graphic depicts the way I hoped it would be. I’d be out in front leading my direct reports who would follow in an orderly, predictable fashion. Yes, I was living in a dream world.

Managing, especially for new managers, is not as simple or as easy as we would like. There are unexpected challenges…dwindling resources, marketplace shifts, unreasonable demands from leadership, cross-functional conflicts and, perhaps most irksome, followers who do not give us the respect we think we deserve.

So how do we handle a direct report that is out of line? New manager training offers some tips on what to do…

First consider the situation:

  • Examine yourself.
    Are you sure the problem is not yours? Perhaps you are feeling a bit insecure in your new role. If so, you might be unconsciously triggering the other person’s behavior. Think carefully about your role in creating the problem and the way you interact with your direct report. Make sure you are open and accountable for your contribution to the conflict.
  • Examine your employee.
    Does this individual have too little or too much self-respect? If so, it may be near impossible to respect others in a positive way. In order to give respect, one has to have a healthy measure of self-respect.

    How emotionally intelligent is this employee? Some people are just not very sensitive to others’ feelings. They are unaware of how their behavior affects others and do not realize when they are causing problems. Could they be under extra stress, either at home or in the workplace? It is always better to think through the possibilities and context of the situation before taking action.

Next, talk with your employee:

  • Prepare.
    Plan what you will say and how you will say it. Your style and the employee’s should have a direct bearing on your approach. But you can’t go wrong as long as you express yourself simply, clearly and directly. You need to ask if the employee has a problem working with you. Then you need to follow up with specific examples of the disrespectful behavior you have observed and how it made you feel. The goal of the discussion should be to find a way to work together productively and respect each other’s contribution to the team effort.
  • Set Clear Expectations.
    Now is the time to be clear about what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Be specific about what you expect, what you require and what the consequences will be if the problem continues. You have earned your manager stripes and it is okay now to exert your influence.
  • Model the Way.
    Back to you now. As a new manager you have the responsibility to set the tone of the team. Be sure that you are a role model for the behaviors you want to see in your team members: mutual respect; accountability; honest, straightforward talk; openness; collaboration. As you go, so goes the nation.

What if the disrespectful behavior does not change? Such toxicity is not good for you or for the team. Preserve your own self-respect and the morale of the team and move the problem employee elsewhere or out entirely. This may be one of the most difficult tasks of a new manager but your responsibility is to the team and ultimately to the company, not to a single, difficult individual.

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