What's your problem?

To my shame, I was recently demoted after failing to meet several performance measures set in my last appraisal. I was leader of a team of five, and am now back to being a team member.

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

I'm determined to work hard to get my former job title back, and my boss has implied that this is possible. The problem is my team members, who have lost all respect for me since the demotion. I don't think they would want me to head the team again, even if my boss approved it. Can I get round this?

A: I'm sorry you feel shame. The appraisal system you describe has an unappealing element of cruelty about it. It may have been fair to penalise you for missing certain performance targets (to which you'd presumably been happy to agree), but to demote you so publicly and then to expect you to work in the same team under a new leader exposes you to the sort of humiliation that reality television seems to relish.

However, it has happened. Your team members know it's happened, and I don't think it defeatist to accept that they'll be very, very reluctant to let you back in.

I hate the thought of your working obsessively hard, driven by pride - yet against odds so great as to make further failure a virtual certainty.

To have a decent chance of regaining your confidence - to make it a fair fight - you need to join a new team. I promise you, that's not capitulation; that's level-headed common sense.

- Jeremy Bullmore has been creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London and a non-executive director of the Guardian Media Group; he is a non-executive director of WPP. Address your problems to Jeremy Bullmore at: editorial@mtmagazine.co.uk. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.

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