Promotional Jealousy

Question to Ask the  Workplace Doctors about jealousy over promotion:

I was recently promoted to manager over two of my peers who had actually been in the department longer than I have. I’ve been there 21 years; one has been there 29 years and the other 33 years.We are all supervisors and now I will be their supervisor and they feel that they should’ve gotten the job. How do I handle this jealousy and what should I do, if anything, to curtail any tension?

Signed, Uneasy

Dear Uneasy:

You are no new hire; 21 years on the job is not really much different in tenure than those two in the department who you will now supervise. Longer tenure is not the major criteria for who is promoted. From here, I assume that those who made the decision to promote you to manager two peers, based it on your competence and ability to work with people. Take quiet pride and assurance in that.

You ask: How do I handle this jealousy and what should I do, if anything, to curtail any tension? You do what you were hired to do. Keep communication open, but don’t be not overly dependent with your own superior. In this new position, you will be expected to see the big picture; your department’s interaction with other departments and especially with internal and external customers.

The key issue is what your department delivers and the satisfaction of those who need your product and/or services. The term TQM, although not so popular of a couple of decades ago, symbolizes the mindset that is a precondition of delivering high quality. Focus on that. More importantly, engage your peers and encourage them to engage those they supervise in the pursuit of quality.

What might that mean for your department is something that I can’t know from here, but I do know that it entails:

· Cutting waste–wasted supplies, wasted energy, wasted time, and wasted money. You can engage those who you now supervise in a Cut Waste Effort.

· Making numbers count; six sigma might not apply to your operations, but what undoubtedly matters is cost. Engage those you say are peers in making numbers visible and understood. I’ve seen posted days without defects, without safety errors, without absences, and with what is put out the door without defects and redos.

· Think team. You now have been named leader of two supervisors with a bit longer tenure than you. I don’t know if your department functioned as a team, before, but it can do so now. How? Start by thinking WEGO. That is my four-letter word for thinking how working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

By that I mean getting to team-mindedness begins with a leader who has skull sessions with all on the team. They are so busy at working as if they collectively owned their department and workplace that there is no time for jealousy. Each week they huddle and plan what needs doing. They applaud what has gone well and confront what need correction. They cheer each other on. They continuously innovate, in both small and big ways.

· If you see evidence of jealousy or sense it is present, you might have a candid time out meeting with these two peers. Tell them that you understand they might have wanted the position and that you know it will not be an easy job without their support and cooperation. You might also hammer out do and don’t rules about how you and they want to communicate; about what, when, how often, and where. Talk about talk; how you talk to one another, what you don’t gossip about, how you deal with rumors and criticism. Getting them involved in do and don’t communication rule making can set the tone for shared-leadership.

Do any of these suggestions address your desire to curtail tension and jealousy? Obviously, you want to follow the ways things have been done in the past, but you also can help shape a workplace in which you and those you supervise want to come to work, and feel you are genuine stakeholders in the future of your workplace. I will be interested in what you learn; about managing. It a continuous learning experience.

William Gorden