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Working with a senior manager who had been promoted over a team member and the relationship had become difficult

The Need

The situation in this organisation was not uncommon. A senior manager had been promoted and consequently had to manage a team member who had also tried for the role and not got it.

The team member, hugely experienced in his field, had not reacted well to his colleague’s promotion and the relationship had become more and more strained. The senior manager felt he was being undermined by the team member in a number of ways. In meetings, the team member actively supported and praised others, while disagreeing with the manager. He sent emails outlining frustrations and concerns, but refusing to engage in a conversation to discuss possible solutions. The impact on the senior manager was significant; as well as the day to day challenges of managing this negativity, it had caused him to question his own skills and ability and his move to the more senior role.

Our Solution

In this instance, we suggested we coach the senior manager to try and tackle the relationship issues himself, rather than to coach both parties.

This helped him to develop his leadership skills in a broad sense, as well as navigating the tricky situation at hand.

A series of coaching sessions helped him to take a step back, identify what he wanted to be different and how to take steps to change things, right down to how to have the “difficult conversations “ he needed to have.

We also coached him to use our “exchange of expectations” model to help him approach the situation in a constructive way and take some of the heat out of it.

He has been delighted with how this has helped him deal with what had felt like a real stalemate situation and the result has been a far happier working relationship. He recognises they are unlikely to be “best friends” but have found a way to work effectively and professionally together.