How to manage pique of former peer

Marie G. McIntyre
Tribune News Service

Q. Two months ago, after my manager moved to another department, I was chosen to replace him. Three of my four co-workers welcomed this decision, saying they always assumed I would be his successor. The fourth one, “Ron,” also applied for the position and was clearly not happy with the outcome.

When I asked my former boss for advice about starting this new job, he suggested meeting with employees individually to discuss the change and then having a planning session with the entire team. This approach worked well with everyone except Ron, who avoids talking to me and never speaks in staff meetings.

Ron and I previously had a good relationship, but losing this position has obviously upset him. Although this is understandable, I’m concerned that his negative attitude will drag down team morale. How long should I give Ron to accept the situation?

A. First of all, kudos to you for seeking out and following your boss’s sound advice. Because managing former peers is always tricky, discussing the transition is extremely important. As for your pouting staff member, two months is more than long enough to get his feelings in check, so it’s time to address the issue.

While you don’t want to chastise Ron or threaten him, you must clearly convey that this sulky behavior has to change. He should also understand that if he hopes to be promoted, he may be shooting himself in the foot.

For example: “Ron, I know you’re disappointed about the management job, which is perfectly understandable. However, your unhappiness is obvious to everyone, which is not helpful for our team. It may also reduce your chances of getting future promotions. We’ve worked well together before, so I’m hoping we can continue to do so. What are your thoughts about this?”

If Ron responds favorably to this gentle reminder, then your problem is solved. But if his obstinacy continues, consider asking your manager to have a word with him. Involving the boss is always a last resort, but sometimes a little more firepower helps to get the message across.

Q. After applying for 60 jobs, my husband still hasn’t gotten any interviews. The problem is that these positions require certifications that must be sponsored by an employer. Because of his extensive experience and training, he could easily become certified within six months, but stating this on his resume hasn’t helped. How can he get past this obstacle?

A. Your question raises two red flags. First, based on the 60 applications, I wonder whether trolling the Internet has become your hubby’s primary job search strategy. While there’s nothing wrong with applying online, these postings are so accessible that competition is steep and results are often limited. A better approach would be to network with contacts from his “extensive experience and training” who may know about useful job leads.

The second concern is his assumption that certifications are the problem. If numerous employers provided this feedback, that might be a reasonable conclusion. However, the most common barrier to getting interviews is an inadequate resume, so having an objective expert review that document could help.

Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.”

Twitter: @officecoach