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365 FOOLISH MISTAKES Smart Managers Make Every DayHow and Why to Avoid Them
By Shri L. Henkel
Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneNew Manager-What's Next?
The idea of being a manager is exciting. Many people, especially new managers who worked their way up in the company, look forward to being in charge. It's a new experience, and you need to prepare for the challenges and rewards that are in front of you.
Many managers are concerned about how their employees will treat them. If you've worked together in the past, being the boss can be awkward. Any old resentment can be magnified by your new position. You should be prepared for the possibility of employees who will try to cause trouble for you-the new manager. Whatever their personal thoughts about your promotion, employees will be watching to see how you handle your new position. The commercial that said, "Never let them see you sweat" could apply here.
No one should expect you to be perfect from the beginning, but the employees will be watching while you settle in. Talk with your boss about the department and any positive and negative things he or she can share.
I Should Talk with the Last Supervisor
This can work both ways. The former supervisor can share insightful information about the job, the employees, and your boss. But you should be careful aboutthe information because it could be clouded. The former manager might have personal issues with people in the department and could give you biased information about them. Managers who feel that they were terminated unjustly might also give you biased information. You can talk with the person who is leaving, but consider the feedback carefully.
It could be helpful to review the latest evaluations for your team members. There is usually a place for them to enter comments and reactions. Be sure to check this section for the manager's thoughts and the employee's comments to get both sides of the story. You can make notes and discuss any particulars with the employee at a later time. I always kept a notebook with concerns, ideas, and suggestions about the job and the employees.
MISTAKE #2 I'll Keep My Notebook on My Desk So It's Handy
If you do have a notebook with details about the job and your employees, you must keep it in your locker or a locked drawer of your desk. No matter how innocent a thought or comment may be, it can be misconstrued. Save yourself the unnecessary headache by keeping the information out of the hands of others.
START OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT
It is so important to get off to a good start. I'll share some tips that will help you do that. We will delve into these points in more detail as you read through this book, but let's take a quick look at each point now.
Ask Your Questions
You will have many questions about your new job. That is one reason to stay in touch with your boss - he or she can help answer these questions. You can also ask questions of the employees, but watch for wrong information.
MISTAKE #3 I Feel Like I Should Keep My Questions to Myself
It is never good to keep important questions to yourself. When you don't know the answers, you aren't as effective as you could be. Ask questions and then implement the answers.
Be Available to Your Employees
There are many times when a manager has a mountain of work on his or her desk that needs to get done, but managers still need to be available for their teams. Set time every day to work with your team and to be available. When an employee asks you for help, you need to be there. If you are busy, let the employee know that you will be available soon. Remember to find him or her and offer your help when you're free. This means a lot to your team and makes your job easier.
MISTAKE #4 I Need to Stay in My Office or Behind My Desk to Finish My Work
Do the necessary work at your desk or in your office, but then get out and be available to your team. You are a manager, and that requires you to manage the people on your team. That is very difficult with an office or desk always separating you. It is better to be a hands-on manager.
Be Confident, Not Cocky
Your team needs to see that you are confident in your ability to do the job. Show your employees that you are confident, but not arrogant. You will have some faults, but these make you human. You need to find the answers to your questions and ways to overcome your shortcomings without losing confidence in your abilities.
MISTAKE #5 My Employees Will Understand That I "Know It All"
You don't like a "know it all" any more than your team members do. That attitude is even more irritating from a new manager who can't possibly know everything. Be honest that you don't know everything and it will take time to learn everything the job entails. They will appreciate your honesty.
Be True to Yourself
It won't do you any good to pretend to be someone or something that you are not. All sorts of people will give you advice on how to do your job. It's good to listen, but use your own judgment about what you should and shouldn't do.
Take It Slow
It takes time for anyone to settle into a new job. I've found its better to move slower and do a thorough job from the beginning. Too many managers try to attack everything at once; no one can do that effectively. A friend recently took on a management job and has only been with the company for a few weeks. She doesn't know the people involved and what has worked in the past, so the ideas she tosses out have limited effectiveness. It would be much more effective for her to learn about the people and the company first.
MISTAKE #6 I Have to Do Everything Right Away
When people rush into the unknown, they tend to make more mistakes. In your new position as a manager, that attitude will hurt you. Learn the job one step at a time, and earn the respect of your employees as you learn and become more effective.
Listen to Your Boss and Employees
Your boss knows it's in his or her interest to help you learn your job. I had one boss who didn't feel this way, and it caused difficulties for six months. That was the exception in my experience. When your boss calls you or sends a memo, take the time to read it and try to learn from it. You should let your boss know if you don't understand something and put his or her suggestions into practice. Your employees can also share useful information with you, but until you get to know them, it's good to be cautious about the information they share with you.
Stay in Touch with Your Boss
Communicate with your boss. He or she is your lifeline to the information and help you will need. If you encounter problems with your boss, they need to be addressed right away to keep the lines of communication open.
Be Honest and Upfront with Your Employees
Once the initial cold feet warm up, you should call a meeting with your team. Let them know that they will continue to do their jobs the same as before. Tell them that you are coming into the position with an open mind and you want to learn more about the business. Encourage cooperation and open communication by being approachable. It's a lot to cover, but the team members need to hear this from you in the beginning.
MISTAKE #7 I Should Make Big Changes Right Away
Chances are that you won't need to make any big changes within the business or department that you manage. Even if changes are needed, they aren't your first priority. Get to know the people and the business first. This knowledge will enable you to make informed changes; changes based on reliable information are more effective.
LEARNING THE ROPES
As a manager, you will need to keep your boss and your employees happy. Each decision has at least two possible outcomes, and you need to find the best solutions. Rest assured that making decisions will become easier as you gain experience, although people will expect you to find the answers quicker. You need to be patient about your abilities and take the time to learn the job responsibilities. If you are unsure about how to handle something, ok consult your boss.
MISTAKE #8 It Would Be Easier on Me to Learn Slowly
Put sufficient effort into learning your new job. There is a lot to learn, but you must work hard to learn your responsibilities. Your boss and team members will notice if you don't make progress in your job. Your boss will give you time, but don't abuse that patience and cause problems by taking too long to learn what is required of you as a manager.
When you evaluate a situation, remember that appearances can be deceiving, and get all the facts before you make a decision. Quick and accurate decisions will become easier once you get to know more about the business, the products or services that are offered, and details about the individual employees.
MISTAKE #9 I Make Decisions Without All the Details to Save Time
Don't make decisions without getting the facts. Jumping to conclusions can cause many problems. Your employees won't trust you to help with problems, and they may not bring problems to you if you don't give them the amount of thought that you should.
A manager has influence on the behavior and work of his or her employees. When you want your employees to do quality work, you need to lead them with quality work. You need to give your team proof that you have the skills to do the job.
MISTAKE #10 I Think I'll Pick the Office Gossip as a Mentor
You need to pick a potential mentor carefully. A person who wants to share the employee secrets is not the person you need. Find a person who will provide productive and helpful information to help you learn your responsibilities.
Who within the business or your department could serve as your mentor? He or she could be someone who worked the job in the past or a long-time employee of the company. You might want to ask your boss if he or she could suggest someone who you can trust to work with you.
One of the most important qualities in a manager is the ability to listen. That includes listening to your boss and your employees. You have responsibilities to all of these people. When they speak, you need to listen to what they have to say. Listen to all sides of the story. There is more than one side to everything. When you are confronted with a new situation, you need to ask questions.
You will develop the ability to ask the right questions. There is a real skill to asking effective questions that get the information that you want or need to make accurate decision. Listening to your employees will give you a better idea of the questions to ask. Then you need to listen to their answers.
Take some time to review the rules and regulations for the job. There may be a training manual or a specific manual for your job. Ask your boss if you can see any procedures, regulations, reports, and other memos to help you learn and understand more about the business and its products and services.
MISTAKE #11 I'll Stare at the Beautiful Woman at the Desk
When you take time to watch what goes on in your department, casually glance at the people. It's easy to stare and leer, but it won't help your reputation. It could also start a lot of problems. Be casual and do not stare.
During your first days, it's good to watch what's going on around you. This will help you gather information about who is working, who spends time on the phone, who takes a lot of breaks, and who spends excessive time talking instead of working. You can also notice who works hard and which people appear to be productive. All of these insights will broaden your knowledge of your department.
PHASING OUT THE ACTING SUPERVISOR
This can be a delicate situation depending on how the acting supervisor feels about you and your new job. Did the acting supervisor want your promotion? That is a detail that you need to know, because it could make things difficult for you. It wouldn't change whether you take the job or not, but it will help you to be armed and ready for potential problems. If the acting supervisor wanted the job, then he or she may be resentful.
I dealt with this in one job. A co-worker was convinced that she deserved the job and was very unhappy that I was promoted. She offered to help me, but then caused problems with the employees behind my back. I was suspicious when she congratulated me about the promotion and then complained to a long-time friend in another department. He confirmed my suspicions. To defuse the situation, I scheduled this employee for another shift that I knew she really liked, thus limiting our interaction.
It's possible the acting supervisor was only helping while the boss searched for a replacement. If he or she didn't want the job permanently, it will be much easier for you. In this situation, the acting supervisor should support you and help to transition the employees through the management change..
MISTAKE #12 My Team Shouldn't Talk to the Acting Supervisor
If handled right, this transition will end quickly. When you overreact, it makes you look insecure. This isn't the impression you should give your team this early in your job.
Your new employees may be slow to acknowledge that you are in charge. This could be because they are familiar with the acting supervisor and it's easier to talk with someone they already know. Continue to prove that you are in charge and you want to help, and this situation should resolve itself.
If you continue to have problems with specific employees, you should talk with them in private. Remind them that you are the new manager and that you want to help them. Let them know that it is your responsibility to help them when there is a problem. Be patient for the first week or two and these problems should work themselves out. If this doesn't help, discuss the problem with your boss - but only after you have made reasonable attempts to solve the problem yourself.
When you replace another supervisor, there are additional factors that will affect the transition. Did the employees like or dislike the last supervisor? If they liked the last supervisor, it may take time to win them over. Don't let this get to you. Make every effort to show your team that you will work with them. They need to feel you have the best interests of the team in mind when you make decisions.
Was the last supervisor less than satisfactory? Were the employees happy to see him or her go? This sort of a situation makes it easier for you. Employees usually look for a manager who will make their situation easier to deal with and someone they can respect.
As you become more comfortable in your new position, work to build respect and a level of trust with your employees. It makes you more effective and makes it easier for you to do your job. Another good way to establish your credibility is to resolve personnel issues that bother the employees. This can be as simple as helping straighten out a bookkeeping error on their record or finding a way to rearrange part of the schedule. Start with small solutions, don't aim for sweeping changes.
MISTAKE #13 I Should Make Big Changes to Get Their Attention
This should seem logical, but many managers try to come in and change everything in the department or business. I've seen managers come into a business and insist on changing systems that already work well, just to make their mark. If there are business systems in place that work and the employees understand them, it would be better to leave them be.
Excerpted from 365 FOOLISH MISTAKES Smart Managers Make Every Day by Shri L. Henkel Copyright © 2006 by Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc. . Excerpted by permission.
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