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New manager squares off with toxic employees

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in Your Office Coach

Question: After being promoted to human resources manager, I discovered that I have been assigned to the most toxic division in our agency. The employees here constantly gossip, backbite and complain. I’ve heard that this is why the last HR manager left. I would love to play a major role in “cleaning up” this group, but I have to move carefully.  Some of these people have been here more than 15 years and are protected by civil service regulations.  Any suggestions? HR Crusader

Answer: Kudos to you for taking on this challenge. Too many managers simply abandon hope when faced with cumbersome rules, regulations, and processes. However, as the human resources specialist, you can’t perform this miracle alone. HR people have only as much power as executives choose to give them, so you must secure management backing before you proceed.

Start by obtaining your boss’s support for this organizational makeover, then get the blessing of top management. Next, develop clear work standards and procedures for holding employees accountable, following appropriate civil service guidelines.  

Before these reforms are officially announced, check to be sure that management is prepared to deal with the resistance that will inevitably follow. You don’t want to be left holding the bag when employees begin to challenge the change.

Implementing change in your organization? Here's some advice: How to Help People Accept Change.

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