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When a top-level change brings a demotion

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in Your Office Coach

Question:  “After our company president retired, I was demoted. I had been his communication advisor for seven years. The new president replaced me with a public relations director, who is now my boss. After reviewing an article I wrote for our company magazine, my new manager made a number of significant changes. I asked two colleagues for a second opinion, and they preferred my original version. When I shared their comments with my boss, he accused me of refusing to accept my changed role. How should I handle this situation?” — Edged Out

Marie’s Answer:  Being forcibly removed from a position of influence is a tough pill to swallow. But reorganizations are inevitable after a top-level change, because new executives always have different ideas. Here are some suggestions for adjusting:

•    When a new regime takes over, everyone must re-establish their credibility by making a positive impression on the people in power. Remember that the new president’s opinion will be heavily influenced by what he hears from your manager.

•    Under these circumstances, trying to overrule your boss is not a wise move. Being right doesn’t count for much if management begins to view you as difficult and oppositional. So don't waste any more time trying to prove your manager wrong. 

•    Instead, try surprising him with a helpful, cooperative attitude. Ask about his goals for the department and look for ways to support them. Share useful information and show respect for his expertise. 

You’ve gotten off to a bad start, so you need to recover quickly.  Although your feelings are understandable, continuing to act them out will only endanger your career. 

For tips on dealing with a management change, see How to Survive a New Manager.

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