Sue Mountstevens answers your questions

Q: I have just been promoted and am in charge of a small, but bright and experienced team. However, one guy is being subtly difficult and slowing us down. How long should I continue to be friendly before I can justifiably tell him "like it or lump it, I'm your boss"?

A: I think you have quite a lot to learn. Being a boss doesn't automatically put you at the top of the tree, you need to earn respect and be prepared to be judged. In one of my previous roles as a baker, I remember being told "you're only as good as your last doughnut".

You are pushing your staff to engage their brains, use their experience and ensure they achieve in order for the team to move in the direction you have persuaded, cajoled and argued for.

Your slightly grumpy colleague may have wanted the promotion you got and may feel he would have been better at it than you. Although he may not be overtly difficult, he can still slow the team down.

Take time to see it from his point of view. Formally and informally involve him and give him opportunities to succeed with a particular project that plays to his strengths. Don't give up too early if you believe he adds to your team. If you have to say goodbye, remember that your team might be the loser.

But don't get high on power; it doesn't deliver on the bottom line.

Q: Our business is doing well and is growing profitably, but my boss has asked me to carry out some severe cost-cutting measures, including losing some of my team. I am terrified by the whole process, particularly having to make colleagues redundant. I have told the boss I will get on with it, but in reality I am terrified and don't want to admit I am not up to the job. Is there an easy way out of this?

A: Review your thoughts and figures with your boss and understand his point of view on the need for cost-cutting. He may have a longer-term perspective than you and may have information or insight that you lack. Think about it this way - you are not so much cutting costs as protecting the vitality of your business for the long-term and therefore protecting the majority of jobs.

Taking wise but tough decisions is part of being a manager but it does not need to be done heartlessly and should never be undertaken without time and reflection on the consequences. For example, losing certain skills may weaken your ability to grow the business, particularly when the economy improves.

If you've got a question for Sue email her at