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Can you turn around a bad new supervisor?

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in Your Office Coach

Question: “A very young and inexperienced co-worker was recently promoted to general manager of our facility. This has been a difficult transition for everyone. As a department head, I unfortunately have to report to her.  ‘Crystal’ is demeaning and condescending to her direct reports. She wants to know every little detail of our work, yet when we call with questions, she gets mad and says “I can’t believe you bothered me with that.”  She also has a habit of talking to one department head about another. Crystal and I used to be friends, but that ended when she tried to cover herself by falsely blaming me for a problem.  Although I have invested eight years in this company, I’m not sure that I can continue working for someone whom I neither trust nor respect. Going to the owner will do no good, because he is not receptive to feedback.  What would you advise?”  K.C.

Answer: Let’s review your options. You could accept the status quo and learn to live with a difficult boss.  You could update your résumé and begin a job search. You could take a risk and talk to the owner. Or you could become oppositional and antagonistic. Of course, that would only make things worse.  

Before choosing to suffer in silence or bolt for greener pastures, you might want to revisit the idea of meeting with the owner. However, this should not be a solo conversation.  If Crystal is creating problems for everyone, then the entire management team needs to sound the alarm.

To have the desired effect, this discussion must not deteriorate into a group gripe session about Crystal’s personality. Since the owner decided to promote her, any criticism of her character automatically implies criticism of his judgment. Instead, the department heads need to explain how Crystal’s approach to her new job is adversely affecting the company. If you can link her behavior to business issues - like efficiency, quality, or morale – then the owner is more likely to pay attention

Don’t expect him to take immediate action or admit to a hiring mistake. But if you make a good case, he will begin to watch Crystal more closely and perhaps the situation will improve. If not, the job search option is always available.

Ever had a boss with a temper? Here are some survival strategies: How to Handle a Hothead Boss.

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