Thursday Troubleshooter: I don't get any coworker respect in my new position
How do I gain respect from my coworkers?
QUESTION: I'm a new office manager and I'm having trouble with the team not respecting me. I used to be the receptionist and I was recently promoted to this position. What am I doing wrong?"
ANSWER FROM LISA MARIE SPRADLEY, FAADOM, Owner of TCB Dental Consulting:
Let me ask you a couple of questions. Did your doctor make a formal announcement to everyone that you were being moved into this position? Is there someone else that might have wanted or thought they were being promoted? It can be a tough transition if other team members’ loyalties lie elsewhere. A good starting place would be to hold an office meeting and have the doctor introduce you and tell the team your new title. You should reassure everyone that you are there to help the office and team grow stronger by working together.
If the problem persists, you need to address team members individually in a private setting to determine what can be done to resolve the issue. Always remember to be open and put your personal feelings aside and really listen to what they have to say. Most problems can be resolved just by letting one another talk about what the perceived problem. If this doesn’t work, you may need to move the discussion to the doctor's office and have them mediate.
Good leadership is essential to healthy relationships with your team members. Show your team by your words and actions that you respect their time and work, and they will respect you in return. Respect is not always given and should always be earned. Be the team member you want them to be.
Congratulations on your new position! I wish you all the best as you move forward.
ANSWER FROM FROM TERESA DUNCAN, MS, FADIA, FAADOM, Owner of Odyssey Management, Inc.:
The shift from friend and coworker to manager is certainly not an easy one. Not only does an attitude change need to happen among team members, but you also need to change your viewpoint. You’ll have to make peace with the fact that these are still your friends, but you shouldn’t be overly friendly with them. No more sharing crazy weekend stories or talking aobut fights between your and your significant other. The level of professionalism needed to maintain your team’s respect is high.
It’s hard to discipline your close friends. While we like to think of our coworkers as our closest friends, it is a reality that this change in dynamics will affect your relationships. I’m not suggesting you will no longer be friends; just that an arm’s length approach is useful to be an effective leader. When times are good many managers think, “This is great, we are all such good friends!” The experienced manager will tell you that when times are bad they wish they had not been so familiar.
Work with your doctor to establish your new role, and by all means, your doctor should continue to reinforce your new role. I hope that your situation improves over time, and congratulations on your new role!
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