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Newly Promoted Manager – How To Start Off On The Right Foot With The Colleague You Got The Job Over

As the manager of a newly-formed team, I am concerned about my most senior team member. “Stephanie” also applied for the manager position, but I was chosen instead.  I have avoided meeting with her one-on-one because I don’t believe I owe her an explanation for my promotion.  Now I’m afraid Stephanie may be trying to undermine my authority and turn the team against me.  How should I handle this?

Marie’s Answer

Avoiding Stephanie because you “don’t owe her an explanation” was an error in judgment.  While you shouldn’t be expected to justify your promotion, an initial conversation to learn about her background and her interests might have gotten the relationship off to a better start and prevented a power struggle.

However, there may still be time to turn things around.  Instead of treating Stephanie like a problem, engage her in a collaborative discussion about how the two of you can work together to make this new team a success.  Once you stop viewing this as an adversarial relationship, you might find that Stephanie can be a valuable ally.