Ask Uppy

Dear Uppy, our company had a restructure and my new manager sucks – I’m so demotivated. How do I approach this?

Boss Graffiti

Dear Uppy, my company recently went through a restructure and I feel really demoted in my new position. I used to report directly to the CEO and now there is a manager in-between us who sucks. How do I approach this?

Great question! And again, a very common scenario. My first question to you would be, what is it about your new manager that sucks? Drill down into the specifics, so you can identify where exactly things need to change. This will also help you to differentiate between emotion and facts.

Your brain and change

Let’s be honest, no-one really likes change – not at the subconscious level. Change equals uncertainty, which to our brain equals danger. And since our brain’s number one priority is to keep us safe, that means it goes into protection mode when change is in the air.

When we’re in protection mode our emotional brain comes into play, which makes it more difficult to get a real perspective on a situation. So by getting into the detail it forces your logical brain to work, meaning you can take proactive action towards a solution.

With a better understanding and handle on your emotions, it will also allow you to have more confidence when approaching your manager and CEO to come to a resolution.

How to facilitate the meeting

So, once you have a clear outline of all the things that aren’t working for you about the new scenario, ask your manager if you can catch up. I recommend going directly to them before the CEO, because it’s only fair to give them an opportunity to work through things with you. This shows a level of respect and will help to strengthen your relationship.

The chances are pretty high that your new manager is quietly freaking out underneath. They probably feel pressure to do well in this new position, so their brain is in protection mode too – probably fight mode. So a lot of their behaviour will be driven by their need to prove themselves.

Of course that doesn’t excuse poor behaviour, but it helps you if you can understand what’s going on for them.

When you catch up it’s important to start by highlighting the purpose of the meeting and what you would like to get out of it (we call this “pre-framing” in the coaching world). This will give your manager’s brain more certainty, therefore they’ll feel more safe and will be more open to working through things logically with you – rather than taking it as a personal attack.

Let them know that the outcome is mutually beneficial – if you’re happier in your work then you’re more motivated, the culture is better, and more shit gets done – meaning their job is easier and they look good because they’re getting results. This again motivates them to work with you to resolve the issues.

Also give them an opportunity to share any challenges or issues they’re having – again so it’s a mutually beneficial conversation. And before you conclude the meeting, set expectations. Agree on what it is you’ll both work on, and agree that it’s ok to speak up if something isn’t meeting those expectations.

Make a date for another catch up in a few weeks time so you can have a review to track how you’re going and make adjustments where necessary.

Of course, if that doesn’t work out your next step is to go to the CEO and have a similar conversation. 


Whatever happens, try to stay focused on finding a solution and refrain from bitching about it with your colleagues as much as you can – that only serves to create a toxic culture, which is very hard to come back from and will make your working life even more miserable.

Good luck! x


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