It’s happened! You got that new management job! You are excited and enthusiastic about the challenges you face, but you are confident about the impact you are going to make. Then you meet your nemesis: your direct report. The one who wanted your job but didn’t get it. And they are not happy campers.

The reality of this resentful person is like a bucket of cold water thrown over your eagerness. They have knowledge they don’t share. They have tenure and experience you don’t have that they will wave in front of you like a red flag. They can undermine your every effort.

What have you gotten yourself into?!?!

The first step is to speak with your superior and try to understand why this person didn’t get the promotion. Is it a skill set they are lacking? Educational standards that are requirements of the job? Or do they have performance issues?

The last, performance issues, are actually the easiest to deal with. Collaborate with your boss to review documentation regarding past problems and scrupulously document ongoing issues. If the company is already aware this person is a problem, work with Human Resources so they know you will be focused on coaching this individual up or out. Address problems promptly and document every interaction. It is always painful and difficult to decide to terminate a staff member, but your job as a manager is to ensure the smooth operation of your department. This distressing task goes with the territory.

Many jobs now require degrees that some people are unable or unwilling to obtain. This is especially hard on an employee who may have started the job years before, when all that was expected was that applicants have a certain skill set. It would be hoped that your management gave the staff member the courtesy of an explanation if this was the only obstacle to their obtaining the position. But some people, who feel they cannot get that degree at this point in their lives, will still be bitter.

What if it is a skill set they need for the job you got but they weren’t perceived as having the capability? Some people are excellent at performing a job, but cannot get to the next level of managing people. Part of your job can be to mentor them and provide them with a goal that they can perhaps apply to another position in the future. But it is just as likely that they are not going to get there. One new manager was faced with this situation. “My assistant manager wanted to be ‘nice’ to the employees. She wanted them to like her. But the problem was, she was so ‘nice’, she could not address performance issues.”

So now you understand why the person is resistant, yet they are still meeting their own job requirements. What can you do next?

Respect and communication are the keys to moving forward. Meet with your direct report as soon as possible after your initial orientation. Let them start the talking. Ask them about their history with the company, what they feel are the most important issues facing the department and what recommendations they have. Affirm the respect you have for their experience and knowledge. Emphasize that you expect to operate as a team.

Express interest in them as a person, not just a tool. Do they have children or pets? Do they have a long commute? Notice and comment on any pictures they have displayed. Finding the balance between professionalism and appreciation for the fact that they have a life outside the office can go a long way in earning trust and respect yourself.

As you work together, make sure you are reliable, too. This process goes two ways. Follow through when you say you will do something. Remember to share information with them, demonstrate you want an open atmosphere. Ask questions and more questions about processes and procedures. Don’t jump in with changes right away. Learn as much as you possibly can about the way things have been done before you decide they should be done another way. And before you institute any modifications, discuss it with your direct report first. Share your ideas and ask for their input. They may have some perspectives you had not considered.

Of course, you may bend over backwards but still find resistance. Give it a month. If your staff member has not started to get on board, have a discussion with them. Tell them you want to work together but you are seeing some difficulties. Have specific examples, don’t just talk in generalities. Point out that you both work for the same goal: doing the best for the company. To do that, you have to work together.

If problems continue, you have to be more firm. Meet weekly at a minimum. Be clear in your message that anything less than a collaborative effort cannot be tolerated. Document incidents and again engage your supervisor and Human Resources. A direct report who cannot adapt is a liability your company cannot afford.

With time, most employees will come around when you demonstrate that you can be depended on and trusted. As you work together to get the job done, you often find that you can forge a truly successful and rewarding partnership.

Author's Bio: 

Marie Cooper has more than ten years experience in corporate management and has a Master's Degree in Corporate Communication. She manages her own consulting and Career Coaching business. Marie can be reached at