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Career AdviceCareer Doctor

How to manage employees with seniority

Published on Saturday, 23 Feb 2019

 

My current boss hired me to be his deputy and manage the daily logistics of the department. It’s a new role created specifically for me when he was promoted by the company leadership and given a wider project portfolio. While I was hired on this basis, I didn’t find out until I passed my probation period. On paper, this was a great opportunity as I was given a lot of autonomy to lead the team. However, my unexpected promotion caused tension with my boss’ PA, who has become passive aggressive and rude to me.

I am technically her new line manager now even though she has been at the company for a long time. Before my boss’ promotion, she worked directly with him in informally running the department. But she expressed no desire for leadership, and didn’t have the right skill set to fill the role that was created for me.

Despite this, she resists working with me. She often bypasses me to communicate with our boss, and frequently ignores or subverts my directions. Any feedback I offer is met with hostility, and she is dismissive when I try to build a rapport with her.

I normally have little patience for such nonsense, but my boss likes her and deliberately avoids getting involved. Plus, she is respected by my team for the work she did in supporting them, whilst I am only new to the company. So, I am afraid that clashing with her head on will weaken my leadership if she tries to get the staff to turn against me.

How do I tame the shrew?