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