Feeling Overwhelmed as A New Manager? Ask Madeleine

Dear Madeleine,

My long-time boss recently left and I finally got a chance to be a manager. But soon after I stepped into the role, upper management informed me I needed to cut at least three people from my team as part of a massive company restructure.

I messaged my old boss and she told me this kind of situation was one of the reasons she left. She advised me to do the same thing!

I feel betrayed by my old boss. In four short months I’ve gone from being ecstatic over my new role to being in despair and exhausted. Should I just quit like my boss suggested and try to find another job? What do you think?

Completely Overwhelmed

Dear Completely Overwhelmed,

What a cruel disappointment. That just stinks. The first thing you need to do is calm down and reduce the amount of adrenaline racing through your system. Take a big step back and a lot of deep breaths. I know you feel terrible right now, but you are going to figure this out.

If you just throw in the towel because you feel betrayed and disappointed, I know you will regret not having given this your best shot. Am I projecting? Possibly. I personally have a high tolerance for risk—and I have some whopping failures to show for it. But I’ve learned an awful lot from them.

I suggest you tighten your shoelaces and show up for this challenge. If that is what you choose, here are a few things you can do to stay grounded.

  • Get your new boss on your side. Find out what is most important to him or her and in what order. This person must know you are not equipped to deal with this situation, so be honest about it and ask for very clear direction.
  • Get to know your HR partner. Take her to lunch. Get him on autodial. If you have to let people go, get all the help you possibly can. It is a terrible thing to have to learn to do, but as a manager it is essential. The best advice I have for you is to be kind, clear, direct and brief. Do not waver. Take personal responsibility to the extent possible. Decide what needs to said and say only those things. If you can get your HR partner to join you—or even to lead the meetings—all the better.
  • Figure out who else in the organization you need to have on your side. Relationships are going to be what gets you through this. You can read an article on that here.
  • Get smart about change. Start with this great blog post and go from there. You will need this information to manage yourself and your people.
  • See if the company will provide you with a coach. If they won’t, find one and pay for it yourself. Make sure the coach has experience working with new managers who need to ramp up fast. If there was ever a time to get help, this is it. Get as much help for yourself as you possibly can.
  • Put your sanity and self-care first. This is going to be a marathon and you need to take care of yourself to go the distance. So go to the gym or take a walk. Leave work at a reasonable time. Get your sleep, stay hydrated, and lean on your friends.

Surprise! Things change quickly. Life can throw insane curve balls. Sure, you could decide to leave, brush up your LinkedIn profile, and start networking. But wouldn’t you rather try to rise to the occasion and either win or go down fighting? I won’t judge you if you wouldn’t. I promise.

Love, Madeleine

About the author

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine? Email Madeleine and look for your response here next week!

About the Author

Madeleine Homan Blanchard

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a Master Certified Coach and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. She is coauthor of Blanchard’s Coaching Essentials training program, and several books including Leverage Your Best, Ditch the Rest, Coaching in Organizations, and Coaching for Leadership.

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