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- Feb. 1, 2007 -


Best Practice Tip: Management -  How to Handle the Employee Passed Over for the Job You Won


Whether you are a manager or an exec, navigating this scenario is never easy



SCDigest Editorial Staff

Great news – you just received the director of distribution spot – over one or more of your peers.

It happens to anyone who advances in their career. You receive a promotion, or accept a management position at any level at a new company. And one or more of the people you will now manage were candidates, at least in their own minds, for the job. Possibly even a friend.

What are some keys to handling that situation?

Joannn Lublin of the Wall Street Journal recently offered some advice. As she asks, how can you make sure the losing candidates don’t hijack your authority, give you wrong information, or otherwise derail your effectiveness?

The dynamics and challenges are different depending on whether it was an internal promotion or you are brought in from the outside, but generally challenging regardless.

If you are coming from the outside, Lublin suggests, ask a lot of questions both during and after the selection process to understand why an internal candidate wasn’t considered or chosen. It’s also important to assess what strong internal relationships the rejected candidate may have, especially at the upper levels.

Spurned candidates will often do “end runs” to other managers to circumvent your authority. It is important to get clear support from your boss to work with his peers to be sure that the employee is sent back to you for direction.

As usual, addressing the situation immediately is key. Letting it fester, un-discussed, just allows the issue to build. Whether it was an internal promotion or you came from the outside, sit down early the rejected candidate and get the issue right on the table, in a positive way – offering to help the employee build his or her pedigree for future advancement. But at the same time, experts say, make it clear you are the boss – sometimes in this situation, the employee thinks the responsibilities are somehow “shared.”

The manager should take the lead in this dialog, not wait for the rejected employee. Lublin cites several real examples where an event triggered this level of discussion between boss and rejected candidate, with very positive results for the new boss, the spurned candidate – and the company.

Do you have any advice for handling the situation when you are chosen for a new management or exec role over existing candidates? What can you add to the recommendations we’ve offered?

Let us know your thoughts.


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