How to Overcome Your Team's Perception That You're Not Qualified for Your New Role

Dear Office Mom,

I recently got a job as a supervisor at a big company by recommendation despite coming from a different industry. The nature of my past work requires the same creative skillset. I believe that I can offer guidance and creative direction to my direct subordinates. The problem is, with only just two days in my new position, I feel a hostile environment where some do not acknowledge my role, have doubts about my competence and skills.
Some have not come to me for advice and send on finished work without going through me first. I learned they raised concerns about my background to the previous manager. I don’t have time for drama. I want to focus on learning the ropes as I put high value in learning and experience. Can you advise me on how to deal with these office politics? How do I prove to everyone that I have the necessary skills and I’m qualified for the job?
— Lena
Image Source:  Pixabay

Image Source: Pixabay

Dear Lena,

Thank you for reaching out to Your Office Mom for work advice! I can understand your predicament and had a similar situation in my career. I know it can be frustrating and makes for a rocky onboarding experience. Here are my thoughts, along with some recommendations for you.

New jobs can be challenging, and it seems like that is definitely so in your case. It’s not unusual for employees to be upset with a new manager who is externally sourced to replace a manager they liked and respected. There are also people in the company that wanted the job you got. That upsets people, and rightfully so when career opportunities are in short supply. All candidates from the outside, are scrutinized and criticized whether it’s a different industry or the perception that their skills aren’t an exact fit. Either way, people assume the company made a mistake, and they are dissatisfied with the outcome. I mention this because you shouldn’t take their behavior personally. Here’s why:

  1. This is a significant change, and their reaction is completely normal. What you need to remember is that you were selected for the position, and that means you were the BEST candidate for the job. Rather than recoil or go into your shell, you need to face this head-on. If you shy away people, situations, or appear distant, you perpetuate the problem. I encourage you to step up and not let the attitudes or gossip distract you from doing the job you were hired to do.

  2. As you get to know your team, find out what they liked the most about the previous supervisor and what they appreciate in a new manager. Although your boss may tell you, ask the employees about the team’s strengths and find out what the team could do differently to improve. By asking meaningful questions, you begin the process of breaking down barriers, building relationships, and determining a roadmap for the team’s success.

  3. Start attending meetings that your boss wants you to attend. You may feel unprepared but don’t. You won’t have to say anything in the sessions, beyond greetings, and introducing yourself. This will be a great way to jump in, get to know the management team, and see how things work. It also shows your direct reports that you are in fact part of the management team, and you’re doing your job.

I hope this helps! Hang in there and do what you know you are capable of doing. It may be a rocky start, but things should settle down over time.