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I work in a specialized accounting field. I have over 25 years of work experience with the last 10 being in exactly the same industry and position that I am currently in. I started a new job/position/new company in late November. There were 3 other people starting on my team in the same department and role, so we all trained together (group training). All 3 were assigned the entry-level positions on the team & I was higher at the senior level (associate, intermediate & senior level are the options for the same role). Those 3 started at $13K less than I did. Also 2 of them are young twenty-somethings recently out of college with little job experience. Besides these 3 mentioned, there are 2 other associates, 3 intermediates, and 1 other senior that have all been there longer than I have. The other senior level has been there over 20 years & is very knowledgeable. Due to her tenure she actually makes about 10K more than our Supervisor!

Long story short, I was promoted to Supervisor (our current Supervisor put in their notice). I didn't even apply for this position, I was asked by the department Director if I would like to be promoted to this position. Once I accepted the role (and a $7K raise), I later found out that the other senior employee on the team had applied to be the Supervisor 3 years ago, when there was a vacancy. She, however was not hired for the role.

Basically those has all made me uncomfortable because the 3 employees that started the same day I did 6 months ago are upset that #1 my starting pay was $13K more and #2 I was promoted quickly & upper management didn't not solicit other candidates to apply. The other senior (who is 2 years away from retirement) is upset that I was promoted vs her due to her tenure (even though her salary is $16K more than my new Supervisor salary). And the rest of the team who were all there before me are also upset because I'm a newbie, paid more, and was promoted fast.

Even though I have years of experience and technical knowledge, I have no Supervisory experience (they do not know this, however). I have always been a hard-worker & grasps things quickly, but I have never led people.

This is all a remote environment by the way. That kind of makes things easier because I didn't socialize with these co-workers too much. I am now the Supervisor of all 8 of them. This is a "non-working" role, which means I won't have any of the workload I previously had. Just Supervisor duties - oversight, team meetings, training, hiring/firing, employee reviews etc.

But I am a bit uncomfortable with this situation. And a few have spoken to my Supervisor about this (which was passed on to me). Any tips for me in this situation?

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    How do you all know each others pay?
    – Aida Paul
    Apr 18 at 22:39
  • We all have access to everyone's pay because we use salaries in our accounting work ( staff budgets).
    – TX210Sue
    Apr 18 at 22:58
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    And you do that with full names and identifiable details? That's how you end up with mess like this exactly. Get that fixed, you may need to know figures spent on XYZ, you don't need it granular to a person.
    – Aida Paul
    Apr 18 at 23:18
  • No, it's required for the type of accounting we do.
    – TX210Sue
    Apr 19 at 0:09
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    Do your reports still carry on their jobs professionally ? and treat you respectfully as their supervisor ? --- If yes, then you should go on and perform your job as assigned by your manager. Everything will eventually be fine if your reports see that you can do your job well and treat them fairly, respectfully, and professionally. Apr 19 at 0:44

5 Answers 5

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Focus on the work. Remember Hanlon's razor and don't assume anything negative from your subordinates.

Praise publicly, reprimand privately. Be even handed.

You are their boss, not their friend.

These are NOT platitudes but actual best practices.

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    The correction is too short to fit into an edit, so I'm writing it here. Small correction, but it's "reprimand", not "remand". Apr 24 at 7:12
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    @notphilphil thank for catching my poor typing. My brain and fingers don't always work together.
    – DogBoy37
    Apr 24 at 14:16
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It's important to show confidence and capability whenever you are in a management role. If you show timidity, fecklessness, or assume your promotion was not via merit of your work, you are setting up yourself for failure.

But I am a bit uncomfortable with this situation. And a few have spoken to my Supervisor about this ( which was passed on to me). Any tips for me in this situation?

If your former peers were not promoted and are now complaining to your boss, it's somewhat normal and I would just grow a thicker skin and not let the complaints of your peers affect the way you manage. Assuming your peers' reactions are due to jealousy / resentment is not unreasonable.

In short, you can only control what you can control, and the jealousy of others who were not promoted is not one of them, nor is there a need to lower yourself to please others. However, do not construe this as permission to rub success in others faces. Humility and confidence are not mutually exclusive.

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I agree with @Nelson that you don't seem to be properly prepared for this role, and your success in the working portion does not mean you'll succeed in this new one. The fact that all of the responsibilities are different is going to be a stressor for you as you cope with the new load.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet though is this:

This is all a remote environment by the way. That kind of makes things easier because I didn't socialize with these co- workers too much. I am now the Supervisor of all 8 of them. This is a "non- working" role, which means I won't have any of the workload I previously had. Just Supervisor duties - oversight, team meetings, training, hiring/firing, employee reviews etc.

In a remote environment, a leader's ability to perform these things is increasingly hampered by the inability to socialize with them. Socialization is your greatest tool to make sure that they are able to do their best work.

  1. First, stop calling them co-workers. They're not co-workers anymore. They're your team, and you're now their leader. Make that line clear in your own mind so that your behaviors are naturally clear to them.
  2. Being remote means you have to be intentional about your footprint in the organization. You have to pick your times when to be visible and when being invisible is ok. If you disappear on them, they will assume neglect on your part. You need to schedule deliberate one on one sessions with each of them as well as make sure you are taking a leading (not driving) role in many of the meetings/ceremonies you listed.
  3. You have two core responsibilities, and your manager will help you prioritize them. The first is ensuring the workload is accomplished. You've done that for years, so organizing that is likely trivial. The second is the well-being of your new employees. Their problems are now your problems. You are there to make sure they are able to do their best work, so you have to be interested in all the things that prevent that. You need to get to know them better. You need to understand their frustrations, their goals, and what makes them feel accomplished.
  4. Find resources online regarding management and leading (they're not the same thing). Management is the easy part, and it sounds like you already have a decent bead on that. To be excellent at it, you need to develop your leadership skills, and that has to be a deliberate exercise. Talk to your own manager about what resources they recommend and what's worked for them. That's the easiest way to show your manager that you're serious about this new role and understand that it's vastly different.
  5. Chapter 12 - Managing the butthurt. Someone is inevitably going to be jealous about something like this. I've been promoted over my co-workers into leadership positions several times, and each time there was a bit of a schism as folks realized that the relationship was different. You need to talk to these individuals about it and fast. Recognize that for someone this is going to feel like a demotion to them. Commit to helping them in whatever way possible. Don't ever say "I didn't ask for this" or anything even remotely self-effacing. Communicate your commitment to the position and the team, and by extension, them.

I would recommend that you definitely have a discussion with the person you were promoted over who makes more than you do. She may have a legitimate gender discrimination case on her hands unless executive leadership can define a cogent reason why you were promoted over her despite seniority and pay status.

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  • Everything here is exactly correct. I would add that you should IMMEDIATELY become an expert on your company's HR policies, and get a good relationship with your HR department established. In your new role, you are a "different animal" to HR, and you need to be sure you're in sync with them. Your manager should be facilitating that. Apr 24 at 18:37
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    It's not "Sexual Harassment", but "Gender Discrimination".
    – Nelson
    Apr 25 at 0:57
  • @Nelson that's a fair distinction. Apr 25 at 14:40
  • I'm a women too, so I don't see how this could be considered gender discrimination. I later found out somethings about why she was not selected for Supervisor. She 8s top notch when it comes to knowledge & expertise and managing her workload. However she lacks people skills/professionalism in interpersonal interactions. When asked to tap into her knowledge & train junior employees, she gets moody & talks over their head & doesn't breakdown concepts to the level of her audience.
    – TX210Sue
    Apr 26 at 22:11
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    I think she has a better case of age discrimination. She is 64 & can retire at anytime. She has been there 25 years & has enough credits to retire & receive her pension. I'm 46, so still have 15- 20 years before retirement.
    – TX210Sue
    Apr 28 at 4:25
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It's short term blowback. I have been in the situation numerous times while managing some very smart people that thought I was too young or not smart enough in the area to be "above them".

The easiest thing to do is disassociate intelligence from the supervisor role. Whether you are the smartest person or best escalation point that has nothing to do with being the supervisor.

You focus on the management aspects of the team while trying to remain "normal" for the interim. I would give them a large amount of space to be upset or whatever to blow off steam. You manage the team, ask for their feedback when you need, summarize issues they are having and generally try to make their lives easier.

After 4-6 months you can start being more aggressive with attitudes or underperformance or personal issues. You will see this unfold with the team. If you start out as an advocate the team will recognize that role instead of being upset that they are "smarter" or "better".

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I was asked by the department Director if I would like to promote to this position. Once I accepted the role (and a $7K raise)

Even though I have years of experience and technical knowledge, I have no Supervisory experience

I have always been a hard-worker & grasps things quickly, but I have never led people.

This is a "non- working" role, which means I won't have any of the workload I previously had. Just Supervisor duties

What you have done and experienced, is classic Peter Principle

You just went from a job that you did well, to a job that is practically guaranteed to be a failure. Forget your relationship with your colleagues, what reason did you have to extrapolate success?

If you have never done this in any way, shape, or form, and the company doesn't seem to think they need to prepare you at all, where exactly would success come from? On top of that, you have multiple staff that already have problems with your promotion, which isn't going to make things easier for you at all.

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    This is more destructive criticism than constructive. Do you have any tips for OP to improve his competence for his new role or his situation?
    – user42
    Apr 25 at 9:51

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