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.

How the Dunning-Kruger Effect is destroying your marketing strategy

Trophy - pixtawan
Photo Credit: pixtawan freeditigalphotos.net

Part of being a full time freelance writer is looking for new clients. I have some room in my “garage” right now and I was checking out some job postings for companies that are looking for part time writers. They all basically looked alike – as writing job posts are wont to do – but then one jumped out at me. I have been at this for a while, but I admit I have never seen this in a job post.

After their lengthy description of the position, writer requirements, and other specifics of the job, there was a three sentence paragraph that gave me a good chuckle. It started with the typical “send your resume and cover letter to blah, blah, blah,” but it was the last sentence that was classic. It read, “Because of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, it is important to provide concrete examples illustrating why you are the ideal candidate.”

Now, you may not be familiar with the Dunning-Kruger Effect by name, but if you have spent any time around humans you have very likely seen it in action. The short definition is the malady of the inflated ego, but I like a little more detail.

Basically, it is a term used to describe the phenomenon of how ignorance or incompetence evokes more confidence than knowledge or competence. There are actual studies that have been done on this showing that the people who are the most incompetent are the very ones who are the most convinced of their competence.

It is the epitome of ignorance is bliss.

To illustrate the Dunning-Kruger Effect let’s look at this scenario. You ask two people to answer a series of 10 math problems and one person gets 3 correct while the other gets 9 correct, the person who got 3 right will tend to think of terms of “I got 3 right.” The person who got 9 correct, though, will typically think in terms of “I missed one.” The psychology behind this is that the most competent people are usually the ones to underestimate or downplay their competence the most while the incompetent folks are convinced that they are the most competent people in the room. They are essentially incapable of recognizing their own incompetence.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect in action:

  • Incompetent people do not recognize that they lack skills
  • Incompetent people do not recognize that someone else possesses genuine skill
  • Incompetent people do not recognize how far their inadequacy extends
  • Incompetent people do not recognize and acknowledge that they lack skill, after they experience training for that specific skill

You’ve had the boss who thought he or she could do it all? Often that compulsion stems from this.

You can’t do it all; no one can.

A Pacific News article, We are all Confident Idiots, explains the Dunning-Kruger Effect quite well. Plus it’s an enjoyable read. I highly suggest it if you want to know more. Another excellent piece is Unskilled and Unaware. It is the original paper written by Dunning and Kruger.

My focus here is not to provide information on this condition, or whatever it is; my focus here is to tell you how it is wrecking your marketing strategy.

All too often business owners will decide to forego hiring an expert, believing that they can do the marketing themselves. They google a few websites and think, “How hard can it be?”

Well, if you don’t know what you are doing it can be hard, very hard – and very bad. This is especially true if you are pouring money into advertising, yet you have minimal or no experience in advertising. Sure, some people are naturals, but those guys are few and far between. The rest of us have to study and work hard to get the knowledge, experience and skills that make us good marketers.

Marketing is a science and an art. There are intricacies that only experience can teach you. It seems like every day there is yet another new Google algorithm or social media platform, or SEO technique. You have to stay on top of it all in order to effectively compete. And if you are busy handling all of your business affairs, how can you devote the time and energy to your company’s marketing strategy as well? When do you sleep?

Marketing is not simple and it certainly isn’t easy. It takes time to learn, to get a feel for it. Call it intuition if you want, but it is learned through working in the industry and working for multiple clients across multiple industries. It is not an easy job and 9 out of 10 small businesses are cheating themselves out of higher conversions, increased traffic, and improved customer loyalty because they overestimate their own ability to market their company instead of delegating the task to a professional.

However, if you still aren’t convinced, let’s look at why you would do better to hire someone to do your marketing.

It will free up more of your time so you can do what you do best – grow your business. Marketing any company takes time and focus. If you are trying to do it all yourself, it is a much more cost effective and efficient move to hire someone to do your marketing.

You don’t want to get wrapped up in the details – but you still need the details. Even most marketing companies don’t do their own promotional writing, they hire writers to do it. Even they, the marketing experts, recognize where their strengths, and weaknesses, lie and they know that it will be done faster and better when the right person is doing the right job. Everyone is in his or her own lane, attending to the relevant details in that lane – and everything gets done.

Your marketing schedule will not be interrupted. If you have absolutely nothing else to do it is probably pretty easy to keep your marketing on schedule, but you are running a business. If you are trying to do it all, something is going to suffer and it will probably be your marketing.

Someone on the outside can give you a perspective that is fresh and objective. When you are writing your own stuff and marketing your own company it is easy to get wrapped up in the emotional attachments, If your own needs, agendas, motivations. An outsider is more apt to think like your customer, your target and create material that speaks to them.

If you are a marketing pro and you think I am out of my mind crazy (and maybe dealing with a little Dunning-Kruger Effect myself) well, go ahead and do your own marketing. Who knows, you might be an absolute genius at it. More power to you!

But if you are sitting there, staring at your screen, mouth agape, thinking “Wow. She’s talking about ME!” Well, acknowledging the problem is the first step in solving it.

The bottom line here is, the Dunning-Kruger Effect could very well be wrecking your marketing strategy – and your business. Take a long, hard look at your business, your marketing, and ask yourself this one, simple question: “Is this working?”

The Care and Feeding of your Creative

Graphic by KROMKRATHOG at freedigitalphotos.net
Graphic by KROMKRATHOG at freedigitalphotos.net

Creatives don’t have the best reputation. I know, I am one. Fortunately, I was blessed with a logical brain that keeps me pretty grounded. I can’t always say the same for my emotionally driven, creative, kindred spirits though. Some can be real characters and make working with them quite interesting to say the least.

Regardless of the flavor of your creative, there are some fairly universal truths regarding their care and feeding. Whether you are managing just one creative or a whole team of them, these tips will help you keep them on track, productive, and fully utilizing that creative bone.

Tell them what you want then back away.

Micromanagement is not effective when working with creatives, they just don’t respond well to it at all. Your creative will respond best when you hand them a project, provide a creative brief, and turn them loose on it. If they have questions they will ask but as long as you have given them some idea of what you want the finished product to look like they will usually run with it.

Channel the Passion

Creatives tend to have a heavy emotional investment in their work. This is great because they are taking ownership and you can rest assured that because they care so deeply about the project they will give it their all. On the other hand, it is very easy for them to take off in a completely different direction that may not be exactly appropriate for your business. A heavy hand won’t work here so don’t stifle the passion or try to control the creativity. Instead, gently channel it, guide it, direct it back onto the path that will get you the results you need.

Leave the Door Open for Collaboration – and Trust your Creative

A creative’s job is to be, well, creative. Loosen the reins a little, give them their head so they can run. Yeah, the bit is still in their mouth, but go along for the ride and see what wondrous paths they take you down. You may know what you want, but the creative knows how to get there. It is a perfect mix. You give them your vision and let them run. Leave the door open for collaboration so you can work together. Make them feel comfortable offering suggestions for changes or additions. Most of all, trust your creative.

Put them on diverse teams.

Diverse teams are great for boosting creativity but it seems that perspective taking actually kicks it up a notch. While diversity brings a variety of perspectives to the table, perspective taking allows for the proper integration of those perspectives, leading to creative synergy. When they are pulling from various backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints, the environment is far more conducive to creativity than pursuing a single thought or idea in a group that lacks diversity.

But give them room to work alone too.

There are times when a creative personality just needs to be alone. If they are working in a shared workspace or a benching layout make sure that you provide them with a place to retreat and work alone. If they are working in a virtual workspace, give them their space if they need it. Some creatives like to hole up and hammer out a project in solitude while others thrive on collaboration. Know your creative! Don’t forego your own needs, but try to maintain some flexibility in the process.

Leave room for flexible deadlines.

Some deadlines are non-negotiable and we creatives recognize and respect that. However, some deadlines do have some room for play. There will be times when your creative gets “in the zone” and may require more time. It may be an idea for a new direction or a better way of completing the project. Whatever the case, give them a little room to run and be willing to extend some deadlines just a bit.

Present challenges and maybe even a little healthy competition.

A creative’s mind is always working. They tend to get bored easily if they don’t have enough challenging projects. I know that if I don’t have a good mix that includes intellectually challenging projects I struggle with the more hum drum work that is my bread and butter. Ask for their opinion on various aspects of the project. Even if you don’t use their suggestions you are still keeping them stimulated – but who knows, they may present something to you that blows the roof off of your project. Introducing some healthy competition helps feed that fire as well and it keeps them interested.

As long as businesses are trying to entice customers and make sales, there will be creatives involved in the process. As long as people are reading books, viewing art, and listening to music creatives will have something to do. Working with a creative does not have to be a feared or dreaded event. We’re just like everyone else – except we dream in color.