Gaining acceptance as a newly hired manager

Jan 21, 2019

“It’s crucial that the individual manager work hard to gain acceptance. Not doing so will almost inevitably lead to getting shot in the back.”

While it’s best if you can promote from within, there are no doubt times AEC firms, and all organizations, really, have to go outside to hire a key manager. When that happens, it’s crucial that the individual manager work hard to gain acceptance. Not doing so will almost inevitably lead to getting shot in the back.

Sometimes those who haven’t made a lot of job changes don’t understand this. And sometimes the newly-hired manager thinks the responsibility for ensuring their acceptance lies with the firm’s top management or ownership. While in part it may, no one can force other people to like or respect someone else. So the onus is still on the newly-hired manager to make it work.

Here are some of my suggestions on what to do to gain acceptance:

  • Find the most senior employee in the organization – no matter what their role or status – and win them over. To do this you need to help them with something. No matter how big or small the task, getting this person on board to tell others that you are a good person is crucial! Don’t forget that while there may be a formal organization structure, there is also an informal one. And the most senior person is usually someone others go to for information. If nothing else, this individual is probably a source of gossip.
  • Meet with individuals in all levels and roles to get their input on problems, solutions, and concerns. Listen more than you talk. Make no promises but be sincere in seeking input. People like being asked for their opinions and being part of the solution to problems.
  • Show you are willing to work. Everyone likes someone who DOES things and doesn’t just tell other people HOW to do things. So, the new manager needs to be a doer and help put out the work that is required by whatever work group, team, department, or office over which he or she is the leader. Being a good worker is always an important element of gaining respect from the troops.
  • Be very conscious of symbolism. Even if your role entitles you to the biggest office or the closest-to-the-door parking space, or a bigger desk, don’t take them (if you can avoid doing so). Those signs and symbols of superiority will do nothing but create jealousy and animosity from others who may feel more entitled due to their longer tenure with the firm.
  • Be careful who you associate with. For example, being seen too often with someone who is not well thought of by the rest of the team could taint you. Don’t show favoritism and be sure you aren’t betting on the wrong horses too early in the game.
  • Promote your accomplishments. Of course, this has to be done appropriately. But there is nothing wrong with some sort of weekly or monthly reporting of facts and tasks accomplished that show, without a doubt, that you are contributing. Don’t assume everyone else thinks you are contributing just because you were hired in as a manager.

None of these are magic potions for acceptance, but each of them, if done, will increase your odds for success!

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

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About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.