Advice column: our manager treats us less well since a shakeup
Dear Ash,

There have been changes in the structure of our department which have resulted in our line manager becoming increasingly irritable. He has taken on more responsibilities, but this seems to have affected his personality. Whereas once he was very sociable and approachable, he now seems to be in a constant bad mood and has started to enforce departmental “rules” which seem to be at odds with the more relaxed family-friendly ethos of the firm. For example, he confirmed that he expects us to be in the office by 8am, whereas there are some of us who have young children and have to do school runs before work. Therefore his attitude is bringing down the morale of the team and we are unsure what to do, as he has made clear that he does not have time for personal chats!

Ash replies:

It seems that your manager is essentially passing down all his stress and anxiety to his team and is having a hard time in effectively managing his responsibilities.

There are certain people who are no doubt very good at their normal duties but unfortunately make poor managers.

If his rules are not in line with the firm policies, you and your colleagues need to raise this with him. Addressing such issues is a key responsibility of your manager, despite his failure to recognise this. You could all look to raise the issue as part of the next team meeting in order to demonstrate solidarity on this matter.

It may be that his reaction to his new responsibility is merely a temporary blip, and that he has failed to realise the impact of his actions due to being overwhelmed by his additional responsibilities. However, should the issue persist, you may need to consider speaking to the managing partner or HR, if available. This could initially be done on an anonymous basis, and you can make clear that it is merely to bring the matter to their attention as it is impacting staff morale.

Most responsible firms will want to ensure they nip such issues in the bud at an early stage in order to avoid the matter escalating. It may be that with further support from the firm, your manager will be able to deal better with his new role and perhaps return to his former, nicer self.

Send your queries to Ash

“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and other legal professionals, which can be put to her via the editor:, or mail to Suite 6b, 1 Carmichael Place, Edinburgh EH6 5PH. Confidence will be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.

Please note that letters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland. The Society offers a support service for trainees through its Education, Training & Qualifications team. For one-to-one advice contact Katie Wood, head of admissions on 0131 476 8162, or by email:

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