i have been moved to a new department to manage a couple of teams and one direct in particular has made it very clear that he expected to have the position himself.
While i am aware that feedback needs to be given, according to MT, we should fit in and not start feedback for 3 months. Also, while i know feedback of some sort should be given to this direct, i am unsure of how to approach the issue

I have only been managing the team for a couple of days and in our first team meeting, the direct asked me if my job role was actually manager as he had spoken to my boss and was under the impression that i was just a new member of the team.
He knew fine well that i was the new manager as an announcement had already been made. He was basically just trying to undermine me in front of the team.
On the very first day, he introduced me to the team as "someone who is coming to learn what we do", rather than a new manager.

Now i am unsure if i should give him feedback in the team meeting when he tries to undermine me, or if i should ignore it and then address it on a one on one or separately in a moment of feedback?

I would like to cap this before it becomes a bigger issue, but do not want to slam this direct and make him totally unproductive and some sort of nemesis!

Thanks, any help would be a great relief!


tlhausmann's picture
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[quote="mungo"]I have only been managing the team for a couple of days and in our first team meeting, the direct asked me if my job role was actually manager as he had spoken to my boss and was under the impression that i was just a new member of the team.
He knew fine well that i was the new manager as an announcement had already been made. [/quote]

Hmmm. Other than the flawed introduction what _behaviors_ have you observed that lead you to make such a conclusion? I understand you feel slighted because of the way you were introduced. You may find this person to be an ally down the road.

Consider forgiving the slight. If it happens again you can ask at a one-on-one if there is a lack of clarity about roles and responsibilities.

cwatine's picture
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Are you replacing a manager or has your boss put a new level between your directs and himself?

torquilh's picture


Thanks for such quick responses. It is nice to know that there are people ready to help!.

The company is in the middle of a big merge with another company, and so under the new organisation everyone is changing managers to give a good mix of management and knowledge as things integrate.

Cedwat, I am replacing a manager, but i do not know what he/she was like.

Tlhausmann, the behaviour so far that i have witnessed has only been for one day as i was new on Friday, but it threw concerns in my head immediately. The behaviour since Friday when i started was, this person asking in front of the team, if i really was their manager as he was under a different impression. Then on the evening, i was invited to some drinks with other managers only to bump in to this guy again in the bar, who loudly said "when i thought i had just got rid of you, here you show up again!"
I understand that i may be making a bad conclusion after only one day, however i do not feel that this behaviour is positive and the way it was done, was by no means, respectful.
I was also made aware upon taking the position, that this person who had only been with the company for 6 months had made it quite clear to everyone in the dept that he should have been given the job, and that i should be aware of any issues that may arrise.
Do you not think that the sooner i address it, the better for everyone? Or would you leave it for a few weeks as it could just be a personality thing?

Thank you for your feedback, it is VERY much appreciated.

Kind regards,


tlhausmann's picture
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Do you not think that the sooner i address it, the better for everyone? Or would you leave it for a few weeks as it could just be a personality thing?

I don't have a good answer about personality...since I am not there to see the behavior. If *you* have any doubt about reporting lines then get it clarified. In one podcast M&M state that you do not have to do anything to prove you are the boss. ("The Big Red Flashing Sign on Your Forehead." in the "Shot Across the Bow" podcast

Start your weekly one-on-ones. Start with affirming feedback for _everyone_ on the team.

US101's picture
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This probably is not what you want to hear, but don't take this guy's passive aggressive bait. You'll be giving adjusting feedback without having a built a relationship and with defensiveness in your heart. This is a bad combo.

If you get into an arguement with this guy you will be focusing on the past. You can't do anything about the past except learn from it.

My suggestions:
1. Wait 30 days
2. Start 1-on-1's. Get to know this guy and ask others about him.
3. Give positive feedback over the next 30 days
4. Establish that you aren't better than anyone just because you are the new boss in charge.

If he is still undermining you then give him adjusting feedback, "When you tell people I should not have gotten this job. That you should be the manager. What happens is I feel disrespected. What can you do differently next time?"

cwatine's picture
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I agree with what has just been said (except for one thing).

I would just add 3 things :

- Do you regularly see your boss and is he asking about how it goes? After a few weeks, I think he should just know there is an issue with "a person of the team", but your are taking care of it and you do your best it gets better. Make sure your boss will [u]not[/u] try "to help" you by acting direct. You must make clear you are in control. Time will play for you. The guy's credibilty will go down as yours will go up.

- If the behavior of this person begins to REALLY harm the performance of the team or persons in the team, you may have to give feedback before the 1-month period. You have to be carefull not to let him create two groups inside the team. But it is way too soon now.

- This is where I don't completely agree with what's been said : during the O3 you will have the temptation to ask each of your directs their opinion about this person. [i][b]Don't[/b][/i]. Let them talk, don't try to orientate their words! Again, this person will loose her credibilty if she continues to talk like this and if the team sees you continue your job with professionalism.

All the best.

HMac's picture

You're getting great advice here, mungo. I agree with the caution that you should "not take the bait" - even though it's tempting to do so.

In my experience it's very unlikely that your direct's actions are really aimed at you personally. He's acting out about his dissatisfaction with the organization, with the boss, or whatever. You just happen to be an easy target.

I encourage you to reflect on the business situation that led to your new position. I can't tell from your posts, but is your unit thought of as "troubled" by management? Are you there to "fix" something? The reason I raise this is that the concern I have is whether your direct report is poisoning the environment for you. If so - if he's doing things to undermine you with your other directs, or with your boss - then the advice to do nothing except O3's might have to be amended slightly.

If you have to have more clarifying conversations with your boss, do so. It's important that you're really clear on the organization's understanding of the situation you've been put into, and what the expectations are.


akinsgre's picture

Hi Torquil

I am just now leaving a job with a situation very similar to what you describe.

It's been extremely frustrating dealing with this type of person.

In retrospect, I really failed by not spending enough time trying to cultivate a relationship with this person. I heartily subscribe to US101's advice.

Hopefully your direct's behavior is simply part of his coming to terms with a new manager.

AManagerTool's picture

Every bone in my body says squash this guy. I truly feel your pain.

Every bit of training and common sense that I have says not to take the bait.

The other posters have given great advice. I can only add:

Smile....even though you want to dress this guy down....Smile brother smile!

jhack's picture

One paranoid note: are you sure you're secure in your new role? He claims to have spoken to your boss. Mergers often go through waves of change; someone who's up today could be out tomorrow.

Don't forget to meet with your boss, your peers, etc, and make sure you understand the landscape. Don't make the conversations about this one direct, rather talk about the new org, roles, how your can work together. You should be able to figure out how your role is evolving.


US41's picture

Once upon a time, in a land far, far way, there lived a mighty king. The king was fair and just, although certainly no scientist, and he lived his life and one day he died. His son, the prince, a haughty young man with more ambition than ability, was convinced that the members of the Royal Court would crown him the next morning.

The next morning, the prince donned his finest regalia and walked like a warrior poet to the final culmination of his life's dream. He would rule his people better than his father ever had. He would undo his father's political machine, eliminate waste, bring justice to the courts, and strengthen his country's position in the world.

The two, great, oak doors of the throne room swung open as he walked in, and a doorman called out to the others. "All hail the prince!" Everyone turned and bowed except one man - a man with a silver beard whom the prince had never seen stood in front of the throne wearing his father's crown!

The prime minister approached the prince and said to him, "Your uncle has returned to fulfill his duty as your father always promised he would. Is this not wonderful? He is very kingly, and arrived early this morning. He said he wanted to get straight to work, so we passed the ceremony by and he simply popped the crown on his head and said, "Let's get to work!" What a man!"

The prince was horrified. He stopped in his tracks and stared in shock. His rightful place - his throne - his crown - all taken from him overnight! How was this possible? Being of noble birth and daily training, he quickly composed his appearance, if not his heart, and he approach the "king."

"Your majesty... Your loyal servant begs your blessing and forgiveness for his tardiness. My apologies."

The King smiled. "Nephew! My how you have grown! We shall have many great days together building upon your father's kingdom! I am very pleased to see you."

They embraced, and then the king was back at work discussing many different issues with the court which the prince could no longer be bothered to hear.

As the days passed, the prince had chance to speak to each of the ministers privately, and he, in a roundabout and delicate way, criticized his uncle's government and told what he would have done differently from him had he been given the throne as he should have. The ministers listened to him and nodded, noting his remarks and gave looks of concern.

When he later saw the King each day, he made cutting remarks and sarcastic comments which only thinly veiled his contempt for his uncle, but he never did anything overt. The King would chuckle and smile, ever the loving relative.

One day, not more than three weeks into his reign, the King called the prince to dine with him privately. The King sat the prince at the head of the table, and he sat to his side, giving him the seat of honor. The prince was wary, expecting the king to make his move. Would it be poison? Would he be jailed? What sort of game was the cagey old man up to?

The king sat down. "Dear Nephew. I have not had time to speak to you these many weeks - so busy have we been. But speak to you I must of a grave and urgent matter. You see, I need your help."

What sort of ploy was this?

"I need you to take charge of the work on damming the river and creating a lake. Our wizard foresees drought ahead, and we will need stores of water. You are the perfect person to do this. The engineers who are building the dam are using your plans you created last year for your father. The men leading the work crews see you, not me, as their leader and confidante. The people want their prince to deliver them to safety and need reason to hail you as you ride their streets. Most importantly, it will be an excellent exercise in leadership for you, and you will need that if you are to be the king after I have gone. Will you accept my pleading that you take on this project and lead the architects, engineers, and workmen? I cannot. I know nothing of damming lakes."

The prince wondered what the game was, but he felt cornered. "I will of course accept, your majesty."

"Very good! Very good! We shall meet here, at this table, like this, at sundown every Wednesday night, and you shall share with me your progress and adventures in creating a lake! What can I give you, nephew, that will ease this task for you? I have a great kingdom and many servants, soldiers, and a fortune, which shall all be yours one day."

Into the night they discussed plans and details. Over the coming months, the prince successfully dammed the lake. They had their weekly talks. The prince shared his adventures, and they were many. The king shared his worries and guided the prince in leading men. As time passed, the prince forgot how he hated his uncle. In fact, over time, he came to love and respect him. His uncle was no politician who had stolen his throne. He was reluctant to serve and had avoided the throne his entire life. As it turned out, the king was a humble and kind man. The prince tried to apologize for his earlier behavior, but the king was a large and powerful man with great room in his heart. He would always interrupt and say, "We shall not speak of the past. We shall enjoy the present and plan for the future!"

A day of celebration was declared, and the King walked out onto the balcony of the castle and presented the people their prince. He stepped back, and allowed the prince his moment of glory.

Later that year, a neighboring nation raised a army with intent to invade and conquer the kingdom. The prince was called to the throneroom immediately, and before he could even take three steps, the King was out of his throne and walking toward the prince. "My nephew, I need your help. We are being invaded, and your work with the dam has taught you many lessons of leading men which will serve you in battle. The people love and respect you for having saved us from the drought. You are the perfect person to defend us all, protect your people, and earn the noble title to which you will one day ascend. What say you? Will you accept?"

Why did his uncle continue to ask him if he would accept? He was the King! He could order him to do his bidding! Besides, the King surely knew by now that no request would be denied him should he but say those words "I need your help."

The prince led the king's soldiers successfully to defend the land, planning many of the battles himself. The enemy invasion was defeated solidly, and they fled back to their homeland. The prince sent a messenger to the enemy king. The message? "We shall not speak of the past. We shall enjoy the present and plan for the future. Become our ally and enjoy all you sought to conquer with far less work."

Over the years the enemy nation became an ally, and the two kings met with one another regularly and spent much time with one another as friends.

The prince was asked again and again by the King to lead, always beginning with, "My nephew, I need your help..."

After five years, the King stood in the throne room in front of all of the ministers and announced he was leaving the land and would abdicate the throne to a man more worthy of his brother's legacy. The prince was again shocked. Would his uncle never learn to share his plans with him? Who would be king? What would he do without him?

The King only had to remove his crown and set it in the throne, and the ministers turned to the man who had led them all of that time: the prince. The prince walked toward the throne, stepped up to the dais, and turned to face his subjects, plopping the crown upon his head without ceremony.

"Let's get to work!" The people cheered, and his uncle snuck out the back door.


The morals of this story:

1. You are the king
2. Everyone knows you are the king
3. Everyone is concerned about the prince, not you
4. Delegation, One on Ones...
5. Eventually feedback... but not yet
6. Communicate to build trust, trust to build relationships
7. The guy you dislike today could be the guy you end up with preferring as your number 2

jwyckoff's picture

[quote="US41"]Once upon a time, in a land far, far way... [/quote]

US41 - another great post. I love it!

sschims's picture

Yes, great post. I like how the king chose not to fight but worked with the prince even though he knew the prince was against him. That can be challenging for me.

But the prince did have a choice to make. Would he put aside his differences and work with the king to the betterment of the kingdom? or would he dwell on his disappointment, work against the king and add little value?

If the direct report continues to snipe at you in team meetings, that can undermine your leadership, sour other team members and make it difficult for you to meet your teams goals. You may have to give him some feedback. You may have to ask him for his commitment to you and the team.

If he cannot or is unable to commit, he may be happier on another team.

tlhausmann's picture
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[quote="sschims"]But the prince did have a choice to make. [...] [/quote]

Hey, US41's post is a fable! Most certainly not the typical fare on the MT forums.

torquilh's picture


Thank you so very much for all your great feedback and for taking the time to give me such great advice.

I am really overwhelmed but at the same time, you guys have helped me to get the confidence to face any issues with this report in a much positive way.

I will let you know how things are progressing within the next couple of weeks.

Once again, thank you very VERY MUCH!!

US101's picture
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mungo - so what ever happened between you and this guy?

KS180's picture

Some possibilities for his lack of tack -- he is nervous about the setup and sometimes people put their foot in their mouth.

I am in a similar situation but my direct feels comfortable enough (because of his relationship with the CEO) to attack me directly in our 'transparent' meetings.

Being the supervisor I am expected to sit there and take it and somehow turn this guy around. Misery loves company - i thought it was just me.

As for the king - at lest he didn't have the prince trying to poison him.