What's your problem?

My team doesn't respect me...

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

Q: I'm a couple of weeks into my first managerial role and am struggling to get my team round to my way of thinking. They're quite lazy and don't seem enthusiastic about their work. I want to change all that but they don't seem to be taking my shake-up very seriously. What can I do?

A: Your team clearly knows this is your first managerial role. So the chances are they're testing you out, wondering how much they can get away with. If it's allowed to go on too long, it could become irreversible. You need to act soon.

The first thing to do is obtain a commitment from your own department head that, as long as you clear it in advance, they'll back you in any disciplinary action you need to take. (It would be disastrous if you made some authoritative decision only for it to be overturned later on appeal.)

Then identify the leader of the lazy ones - you'll know who it is - and give him or her a first spoken warning. Make sure you follow the proper procedures as advised by HR. Harden your heart. Take it right to the end if necessary - and never relent.

New managers often try to remain popular and one of the gang. You can still be popular - but not until you've established your authority and earned respect. You haven't that long.

- Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. His book Another Bad Day at the Office? is published by Penguin at £6.99. Address your problem to Jeremy Bullmore at: editorial@managementtoday.com. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.

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