I have been promoted by the company CEO to senior manager. This position places me above my first boss at the company, who was my boss for 9 years, but we didn't seem to click or harmonize much with our work. However, his capabilities and expertise is highly needed to manage our division deliverables smoothly.

Can you please advise me on how to maintain the equilibrium between us and in the same time maintaining my professionalism?

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    There's a big difference between 'not clicking' and having a grudge - in the former case I wouldn't worry about it at all. – Kvothe Mar 23 '14 at 21:47

If you are now a senior manager, you have probaly learned now that you should be able to effectively work with anyone whether you like them or not. However, your former boss is likely to be fairly unhappy at this development. You may need to havea plan in your back pocket of where he could be moved to if he does not want to work with you.

You need to sit down with immediately and talk about what you expect of him, why you are retaining him on the team and how the new relationship will work. Acknowledge any problems you had in the past and how you contributed to them and what you have learned since then.

It may be possible to salvage this relationship if he is willing to try, but if his attitude is negative at the end of this talk or if he after the talk starts making public problems for you, then get rid of him as soon as you can. This does not necessarily mean fire him, if there is somewhere he can transfer to to save face, that is fine.

His talents may be good but they are useless with a bad attitude. He needs to be aware that you are willing to restart the relationship and that you respect his abilities, but he also needs to realize that his own attitude will dictate if he can keep his job. Don't keep him if he is a snake in the grass. The problems he will create will far exceed any technical abilites he can bring to the group. The choice in the end is his, can he get along with you or not.

I've seen this play out several times at work and it it all came down to the attitude of the employee. If he was willing to work for someone who used to work for him and who he disliked at that time, it will work out fine, but if he isn't the best thing for you, for your team, for the project and ultimately for him is to move him elsewhere in the organization or fire him as soon as possible.


A large part of being a good leader involves getting your subordinates (and higher leaders) to trust you as a leader. For this answer, I'm assuming 2 things. First, the CEO trusts you more than they do your first boss, as you were promoted above him. Second, because you and your first boss never seemed to get along, your first boss really doesn't trust you, and you don't trust him. I would try these steps in order:

  1. You can try to regain his trust

    This can occur by talking with him privately, acknowledging that you and him initially didn't get along, but that he is a vital part of the team. You should be willing to put that distrust behind you, but that he also needs to be able to respect you and understand that, at this point, you are higher in the chain of command. As such, he needs to be able to align his team's goals with your corporate goals. However, if that doesn't work...

  2. Speak with the team

    This would involve speaking to his team as a whole, telling them your overall plans for that team and where things are going, all in order to get the team onboard with your corporate goals. If you're still unable to gain trust of the team...

  3. Think about a change in team management

    This is and should be a last resort, but if you are unable to get your team onboard with your goals, or if there still is distrust between the team, your first boss, and you, you should consider replacing your first boss. After all, nothing productive will be accomplished if you cannot push your goals through to your subordinates. The reason why I'm saying this (and not something like you should consider changing companies) is because first, you're the boss. Second, as stated earlier, corporate leadership seems to trust you more than your former line manager, and thus you have a lot more leverage to work with.


You are his boss now? This means it's up to him to manage the relationship between you and him. Because now, you have the option to terminate his employment.

I'd say let the past be the past and all you should care about is how he acts with you as a subordinate.

If he is not comfortable with his role as a subordinate to you, that's his problem. Don't let him make that into YOUR problem, you have plenty of other fish to fry.

Apparently, you are not comfortable with your role as his boss. Don't let that lack of comfort become a problem to you. Just do your job and discharge your responsibilities as your firm expects you to, and don't let anyone including yourself get in the way of that.

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