Advice

Fixer: Threatened by new HR manager

21 Feb 2019 By PM Editorial

How can I stop my colleagues turning on the new arrival?

A few months ago, we hired a super new HR manager. It’s now evident they are being badly bullied – they received poor induction training, have been excluded from correspondence and work socials, and are left to sit alone at lunch. Several long-standing members of staff clearly feel threatened by the new arrival, who is a real asset to the business. We’ve spoken to all concerned but have seen no improvement. Senior managers are aware and want to solve the problem, but how?

This sort of issue with a new, reasonably senior member of staff is far from unprecedented. The good news is you still have time to put things right, if you act now.

I’d guess the way this individual was brought into the business wasn’t ideal. You might not know how they were introduced or positioned, or what their colleagues were told about them prior to their arrival, but these issues often lie at the heart of teething troubles with a new employee. You might find another staff member believed the role was theirs – even the very act of telling a team they have a fantastically skilled new staff member joining can ruffle feathers if it’s not done in the right away.

Your assumption is that team members are jealous, but you can’t know that for sure. The only way to resolve the issue is for your HR manager to conduct a series of one-to-ones with colleagues – position this as a proper introduction to the team where they can ask open questions, show a willingness to listen, help with historic problems and identify clear wins. 

The chances are they will come away from this process with a great deal of goodwill, some strengthened relationships with key individuals and a clearer picture of where they stand. But hopefully they will also uncover why there has been hostility to their arrival – and if that’s the case, they will need the support of senior managers to smooth over any difficulties and draw a line under the issues that have emerged. 

None of this will be easy, but if you don’t act, it sounds like you could be looking at the start of a constructive dismissal claim – so it’s time to do the hard work now.

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