Management Transition – How to Take Over Without Taking Over

ABSTRACT:

10 tips for new managers to make their transition to their new position easier.

Stuart Miles - Leadership

Someone Else’s Recruits Part II

When transitioning into a new management position, the first ninety days are crucial. As a new manager, it is your job to get in and take charge. But there is a catch. Delve in too quickly and you run the risk of alienating your team, thus crushing morale and stifling production. Have too light a hand and you will lose their respect. It is an intricate balancing act that you must do to maintain order and inspire and motivate your team to reach higher. It can be daunting and intimidating. However, there is hope. These tips can help your transition period run a little more smoothly and make your integration into your new team much easier.

1. Tread Softly – at least at first – Start Small

When you come into your new position, resist the urge to make a great deal of changes immediately. In fact, sit back and observe. You can implement a few minor changes such as break schedules or routine procedures, but, again, proceed with a soft step. But, one crucial mistake that new managers make is that they delegate the “grunt” jobs to their employees and take the easy tasks for themselves. Never ask your employees to do something that you would not do yourself.

2. Learn to Listen

Your employees are on the front line and the ones who hear your customers first hand. They have a feel for what works and what needs to be fixed. You would do yourself a great favor by asking your employees four little words: What do you think? Ask them what is working and what needs to be fixed. You can have formal staff meetings where you have your employees submit their comments and recommendations to you and then open the floor for discussion, or you can construct your own “comment box” for your employees to submit ideas any time that something comes to mind. Just make sure that you check the box often and seriously consider the comments and suggestions that are submitted to you.

3. Keep Open Communication

Your employees are not mind readers and if you are new, they don’t know you. Anticipate their concerns and address them before things get out of hand and you wind up with a disgruntled team. If there is any possible way for you to have a meeting prior to your starting working with your team, by all means, do it. If not, as soon as possible introduce yourself to your team, even if you have to take each member individually and chat with them briefly. You don’t have to go into anything lengthy, just get a feel for each team member and allow them to get a feel for you. Most of all, keep the lines of communication open. Be approachable and don’t let your emotions get the best of you. If you ask for honesty and a direct approach, be prepared to get just that. There is no room here for you to get your feelings hurt. Suck it up and approach your employees, ask them what is on their minds and take it into consideration.

4. Get to know Your Team

Meet with your team as a whole but also take time to meet with each individual member. Through your observations and conversations with them, you need to find their talents and abilities and find creative ways to use them to the team’s advantage. Also keep an eye open for talents that may yet be untapped by the members. For instance, you may see outstanding artistic ability in a team member, but they do not realize that they have that talent. Work with them and help them develop the talent in a way that it will benefit the team and your mission. As a leader it is your job to inspire and motivate your employees. You want to mentor your employees and mold them into leaders. They can be leaders within the team and they may even be promoted within your organization. By empowering them and keeping the lines of communication open, and knowing each team member you will create a team that is unstoppable. But they will also be loyal.

5. Be a Team Player

As “the boss” it may be tempting to delegate the grungy tasks to the employees and leave the nicer duties for yourself. But that won’t win you any points in the popularity department and it certainly is not the mark of a leader. Don’t ever ask your employees to do something that you won’t do yourself. When they see you working alongside them, working with them, scrubbing toilets and mopping floors – or whatever undesirable tasks may need to be done, they will develop respect for you. When they see that you don’t put yourself on a pedestal and that you work just as hard as – or harder than – they do they will be more inclined to respect you and be loyal to you. Help each team member develop individual goals as well as goals for the team. Encourage all of the members to reach higher and celebrate their successes.

6. Don’t Compare your Old Job to your New One – or your Employees

Your old job is your old job. Even if you are making a move within your company, realize that the landscape has changed. For one, your position has changed so you are viewed differently, but two, and this is most important, your new team is not your previous team. While some techniques and procedures may be maintained from your previous position, you can not approach your new team as if it was your old team. They will not act the same, perform the same and respond the same so don’t put them in the position of feeling that they have to live up to your old team or outperform them. When you begin comparing your new team to your old one, you will only serve to cause resentment in your new team.

7. Realize that you have a Lot to learn – and Show It

Whether you have 1 year experience as a manager, 10 years or 25 years experience, you don’t know it all. If you are entering into your first management position, then realize that you have a lot to learn. Most of all, let your employees know that you are human. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and opinions of your team, but don’t come across as needy or whiney. Learn the difference and maintain that balance.

8. Play by the Rules

You are the boss and you can probably take certain liberties that your employees can not. Resist that urge. When you start breaking the rules just because you can, you are asking for trouble. Don’t put yourself on a pedestal, get in the trenches with the rest of your team and work alongside them. Play by the rules and your employees will respect you.

9. Learn to Listen

The first rule to being a great conversationalist is learn to listen. This is also the first rule in being a great leader. Listen to your employees and stay in tune with them, their moods and what they think would improve their work environment. Ask questions and genuinely listen to their responses. Keep the lines of communication open but always listen.

10. Don’t Hog the Credit

This is simple but is often overlooked by new managers. When an employee comes up with a great idea, it is very tempting to present it as your own to your superior. In a word: Don’t. If it is not your idea, give credit where credit is due. If you are commended for great performance, don’t keep the credit for yourself; remember to commend your team for their hard work and contributions. Even if you have an employee who outperforms you or who is a better salesperson or better at crunching numbers, make certain that credit is given where it is due. When your team sees that you give them the credit for good performance, they will work harder. If they see that you take the credit for yourself, you will most certainly see production plummet.

There are so many things to remember when you are trying to transition into a new management position, but if you keep your people in your focus, you will find that you have a loyal team that will help you propel all of you to greater heights. You can’t go it alone and if you alienate your team and find yourself on the outside, you will be in big trouble. It is tough to get a team back once you have violated their trust. Start off on the right foot and keep these strategies in mind as you work toward bringing your team to the next level.

Management and Human Relations – Bridging the Gap

ABSTRACT:

The first three months are difficult for new managers. There are some ways to make the transition easier.

bluebay - management

Someone Else’s Recruits – Part I

Management is not an easy job. After more than 20 years in management, I can tell you that it does not matter whether you are working with a corporate team, non-profit team or small company, you are still dealing with a variety of backgrounds and personalities – and you are often dealing with someone else’s recruits. These factors can present quite the challenge to even the most seasoned manager, but if you are a greenhorn walking into such a situation you have your work cut out for you.

Take a moment and look at the situation through your new employees’ eyes. Perhaps they feel that they have an established team and view you as bullying your way into the group and taking over, stripping them of their empowerment. Or, you may be coming in on the heels of a beloved leader and the team may view you as someone who wants to come in, take over and take the old manager’s place. While you do need to maintain some sort of order, it is vital that you get your team on your side.

If you are one of “those” types of managers who comes cowboying into the management arena, heady with power, out to take control of the position, employees and everything else that goes with it you are doomed for failure. That is the biggest mistake that a new manager can make.

Like it or not, as a manager you need those employees, especially those who have “been around” and who know the lay of the land. An existing staff can be invaluable in helping you settle into your new position. Remember, you are an outsider. You are coming in to an existing team. The team members have likely supported each other through tough times on the job and celebrated the highs together. For you to come barreling in, attempting to “take over” (whether you mean to or not, that is how you will be perceived, mark my words) will do nothing but make you appear hostile, like the enemy.

While your first inclination may be to “straighten up” the existing problems, your primary focus should be on building a cohesive team. Many inexperienced managers blast into their new positions, making numerous changes and demands. This management model is known as the “Command and Control” method. Although this may be the easy way and the quickest, it is not the best and certainly not the most efficient. Additionally, it just plain does not work, especially if you want a team that works. Your employees, your team should be considered before the bottom line. If you have happy employees who feel valued and empowered, your bottom line will not suffer in the least. Happy employees mean happy customers and happy customers spend more money. However, if your employees are disgruntled and feel as if they are pawns in your power trip, you just might find yourself running your business alone and incurring the tremendous expense of hiring and training new employees – again and again and again.

Your first order of business as a new manager should not be to fix all the wrongs in the company. You have humans working with you and it is your job to get them on your side first. If you can’t get your team on your side, you will be facing tremendous challenges as a manager. I won’t say that you will fail or you won’t stay in your position long, but I will say that if you don’t connect with your team, your new position will be much more difficult.

Don’t try to do everything at once. Take your time, remember to breathe and your transition into you new management position will go smoother. It is important for you listen to your employees and let them know that you value them, their contributions and their hard work. As their manager, you must take the position of team leader but don’t take their power from them. An effective, productive team is empowered and inspired. Keep an employee bulletin board where you post encouraging messages and quotes, reward hard work with recognition (a gold star can go a long way!) and don’t be afraid to ask for another perspective. You are not expected to know everything and have all the answers. To approach your new position with such an attitude is a turn off and will likely land you on the outs with the rest of the team.

A good leader leads by following. They don’t ask their employees to do anything that they would not do themselves and they are open to suggestions from their employees. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know everything and that you don’t have all the answers. Work with your employees, inspire and motivate them by working with them, not over them and you will find your management transition to be much smoother.

Mobbing and Workplace Abuse: Survival Guide

ABSTRACT:

A practical, realistic guide for surviving mobbing or workplace abuse by someone who has been through it. 11 tips that you can start using today to survive.

David Castillo Dominici - depressed man

Mobbing is a generalized form of workplace abuse. It is not sexual or racial or any other form of harassment that is covered by laws. It typically manifests as emotional abuse with superiors, co-workers and even subordinates “ganging up” on one person in an effort to force them out of the workplace. Various forms and signs of abuse include intimidation, discrediting, innuendo, humiliation, isolation and rumor.

There are no set laws that protect workers from this type of harassment and abuse. Of course, getting a new job is the ideal solution most of the time, but that is usually impractical or even impossible. However, it is possible to survive mobbing and even rise above it.

I was a victim of mobbing at my place of employment for more several months. At its worst, I was not allowed to attend team or staff meetings and my co-workers were not allowed to talk to me. If they did, their jobs were threatened. I was completely isolated, verbally abused, yelled at in front of co-workers (for things I did not do) and continually called into my PM’s office and withstood a litany of false accusations. I was and still am a good employee with a strong work ethic. I am a hard worker and am very productive. I never received any explanation for why I was treated the way I was. One day the PM was fired and a new PM came on board who was much different and the abuse ended.

The damage, though, had been done and I had already put out feelers to find a new job. I did find a different employer and was much happier – I am even better now that I work for myself as a freelancer. But the dark times sometimes haunt me still, mainly because I have no idea why they treated me the way that they did – and I never even received an apology. That is water under the bridge though. What is important now is that I survived – this is how I did it.

Do Talk to Someone Objective

It never hurts to bounce things off of someone who is objective to make sure that you aren’t overreacting. Talk to someone you trust who can give you an objective opinion on whether the behavior appears to be abusive or not. If your company has an alternative dispute resolution office or a mediator you may want to speak with them if it is safe to do so.

Don’t Decrease your Production

As the stress of abuse drains you, you may find it difficult to be as productive as normal. Do whatever you can to combat this. Whatever you do, don’t allow your production to fall. If your workload is decreased or your responsibilities reduced, continue to do the best job possible, but never allow yourself to appear idle. Take a course if your employer offers professional development courses or do some professional reading. It is important to always look busy.

Do Document Everything

Document every conversation, confrontation and instance of abuse. Record the date, time, key persons involved and as much detail about the event as possible. Keep it in a safe place (not on your work computer). Try to write your reports as soon after the event occurred as possible, while it is still fresh in your mind. Also, keep all performance evaluations, records of work you have done, schedules and any other proof that you are doing your job and are a “good employee.” If you can, take photos, record conversations and save emails. Some companies do not allow cameras and recorders, so this may not be an option for you, but do whatever you can to document as much as you can.

Don’t Lose your Cool

When someone is bullying you and being abusive to you, it can be very tempting to blow up or have a complete meltdown. It is vital that you keep your emotions in check. Remain as neutral as possible. Appearing depressed or beaten down can spur your attacker or attackers to continue or even heighten the abuse. Bullies feed off of the feeling they get when they can beat someone down. Blowing up will likely only agitate them and could get you booted right out the door.

Do Get Counseling

It is a good idea to get counseling to help you cope with the stress and pain of abuse. If you don’t have insurance, many counties have mental health services for uninsured citizens that are either free or on a sliding scale fee. Some places even provide counseling over the phone. A good counselor can give you some good coping tools and help you keep the workplace stress from affecting your home life.

Don’t Feed the Drama

Remain as neutral as possible. If others are gossiping about you or about your attacker, don’t join in. Engaging in gossip about your attacker will only feed the drama and could cause the situation to escalate. It may be tempting to gather your allies and enjoy their outraged support of you, but don’t go there. It will make the entire workplace more uncomfortable than it already is and could even get some of your co-workers in the hot seat.

Do Create a Support System

You do need a support system to help you get through the abuse. If you have some co-workers that you trust, you can turn to them. Meet with them outside of work, at lunch or after work, to talk. Don’t engage in discussions about the abuse or the bully while you are in your office or in the building. You just don’t know who is listening. You can also join support groups for people who are victims of workplace abuse. There are several on Facebook if you’d rather go the social media route. Be careful, though, social media can be great but it can also be full of the very bullies that you are seeking to escape.

Don’t be Combative

When you are attacked, your first instinct may be to fight back. If someone is yelling at you, you may feel like jarring back at them. Don’t do it. They could be doing it as a way to provoke you and when you fight back you can be dinged with disciplinary action for being “insubordinate” or worse. Like I said earlier, keep your cool. Don’t stoop to their level and argue with them. Calmly state your side and if they continue to be abusive, sit quietly. Answer questions as concisely. Don’t say any more than you have to and don’t be afraid of periods of silence. The more you say, the more ammunition you give them. But if you are silent and just look at them, they are more likely to say things that will trip them up.

Do take Care of Yourself

Enduring abuse is extremely stressful and taxing on the mind, body and spirit. Take care of yourself. Eat right, get enough sleep and relax when you can. Do little things for yourself like take a long, hot bath, read a book or go for a walk. Exercise is a great stress reliever and it can go a long way in helping you cope. Your work day may be horrible, but when you walk out that door leave it all behind you.

Don’t give them a Reason

Abuse can lead to stress and depression which can cause a variety of problems, both physical and mental. While it may be difficult to put one foot in front of the other or even to get out of bed, you simply have to do it. Do not give them a reason to discipline you or even notice you. This means don’t come in late, don’t leave early, don’t take an extended lunch, don’t have too many absences and don’t take too many breaks. While your co-workers may be enjoying a more lax working environment, it is important the you absolutely tow the line.

Do know that it isn’t your Fault

Most mobbing and bullying is not any fault of the victim. It is usually due to the bully’s own insecurities, intimidations and personality issues. It isn’t your fault. People make the choice to abuse. They thrive on hurting people and making them feel bad, beating them down. There is probably nothing that you could have done to stop it.

I survived some long, difficult, painful, dark months while I was being bullied. I posted various scriptures from the Bible in my cubicle, verses that gave me strength and hope. I took the words from the song “Trading my Sorrows” and posted them on my wall along with inspirational poems (like “Don’t Quit!”) and inspiring quotes. When the days would get dark, I turned to these words and they gave me the strength to go on. Oh, and I did a lot of praying.