Winner of the 2020 Next Generation Indie Book in the Career category! Congratulations, you're a manager! Of course you have expertise in the field you're managing, but what about everything else? There's so much more to know! Whether you're a new or seasoned manager, your responsibilities can become overwhelming at times. There are days and new situations that will leave you feeling vulnerable. You don't know where to start or even what to ask!The Manager's Answer Book can help. In question-and-answer format, this easy-to-use guide provides information on many aspects of managing. You will learn about:
- Getting started: moving from peer to manager, setting goals, managing projects, resources, and much more.
- Developing your management skills: communicating, delegating, motivating, and facilitating.
- Building and managing your team: hiring, firing, and everything in between.
- Creating your personal brand: building credibility for yourself, your team, and your department.
- Managing up, down, and around: working with people and functions in your organization.
- Potential land mines: conflict, change, and risk.
- Legal pitfalls: navigating the miasma of laws and regulations.
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About the Author
A writing partnership was born when the first edition of The Big Book of HR hit the market in 2012. Since that time, Barbara Mitchell and Cornelia Gamlem have gone on to write four more books, see them translated into other languages, and receive prestigious awards. Barbara Mitchell is enthusiastic about helping organizations find, hire, engage and retain the best available talent. That’s why she began consulting after working as an HR Executive in corporations. She’s the founder and Managing Partner of The Mitchell Group, a management consulting practice that helps a wide variety of clients with people and talent management issues. Cornelia Gamlem is passionate about helping organizations develop and maintain respectful workplaces. For that reason, she took her HR expertise, gained working for a Fortune 500 IT services company, and founded the Gems Group, a management consulting firm offering clients solutions to employee relations, workplace diversity and related HR and business issues.
Read an Excerpt
You're a New Manager, Now What?
Congratulations! THIS IS an exciting time in your career, but you probably have a lot of questions and not a lot of answers as you take on new responsibilities. Here's a tip as you get started: You've hopefully had a couple of good managers in your career, so think about what they did that worked for you and use that insight to guide you along with the answers in this section.
Question: My predecessor was a manager who was held in high esteem by everyone — her staff, her peers, and the leadership. I certainly don't want to alienate the employees, but I'm not her and will likely have a different style. Any advice for starting on a positive note with my staff?
Answer: If your predecessor was highly regarded, there are probably many reasons for it. I would guess that a competent staff is one of the top reasons. Successful managers hire good staff — people who are good at what they do. As you start in your new job, you will want to make getting to know your staff a top priority. Learn what it is that they do and what expertise each one of them possesses. Trust them with what they are doing. In many cases, they have probably been doing it for a long time, either within your organization or elsewhere.
Your team members also possess a great deal of institutional knowledge. If they've been with the organization for a while, that knowledge can even be greater than the knowledge of the person who hired you. Yes, you may be able to tap into your peer network for this, but they will not necessarily know how to apply that knowledge to your department or team's work. Your staff will, and you will need to leverage the knowledge they bring.
Don't micromanage the staff. Yes, you may be trying to get a better understanding of what they do and contribute. However, if you're initially asking for a great deal of information or status reports, explain to them it's because you're trying to learn — to gain a greater understand of what they do — and that it won't continue indefinitely. Focus on their results.
Don't reallocate work and responsibilities arbitrarily. At some point, as you get to know what each staff member's workload is, it may be necessary to do so. However, get input — from all those affected. Also, don't arbitrarily change procedures and processes. Get suggestions from the staff. After all, they are the ones performing the work. Keep in mind that what may have worked in your former organization may not work in the new organization. In fact, they may have tried something you are proposing in the past and it failed to work. Listen to them. Making arbitrary changes can have the effect of demoralizing and demotivating the staff.
Recognize and respect the professional relationships your staff members have made both inside and outside the organization. They have worked hard at building relationships with peers, the leadership, clients, customers, and service providers. They have built credible, reputations in their professional networks and often within the community. Honor that and don't try to capitalize on it for your personal gain. Once they have gotten a chance to know and trust you better, they will probably be more than happy to introduce you to their network.
Most importantly, give your staff time to adjust to their new leadership. They've experienced a loss and are going through a grieving process. Listen to them and give them time to adjust — along with your respect and trust!
Question: I just accepted a job with a new organization. I'm replacing a manager who is retiring, and he had a number of short-comings that I've heard were not addressed. Apparently, he had an "anything goes" attitude and gave his staff a great deal of freedom. Needless to say, they held him in high regard. The leadership has told me they want me to bring more accountability to the department. Could you give me some pointers about how to approach the staff?
Answer: Wow, this is a challenge. It sounds like the staff was taking advantage of your predecessor's lack of control and might expect that you will maintain the same status quo. That's not to say you should tread lightly, just slowly and deliberately.
Obviously, you want to build rapport with each staff member. Find out from each of them how they perceive their job — their duties and responsibilities. Compare this to any job descriptions and your leadership's understanding of their jobs. This will help you identify any gaps that you need to address.
Be clear with your staff about your expectations — of them and of the department. Let them know this as soon as possible and reinforce your expectations often in discussions with them and in staff meetings. Despite what they may think, employees really do want to know what's expected of them. Don't just tell them what you expect; tell them why you expect it. Provide facts (for example, "We serve the public, so it's important to be punctual and arrive at work on time").
Acknowledge to the team that things will change and be different as you all adjust. Solicit their input, especially if you plan to change procedures or protocols. Let them know you will take all of their ideas and opinions under consideration, but ultimately you, in consultation with the leadership, will make any final decisions. This approach will help manage their expectations.
Remind them that all of you are a team and ultimately work for the same organization. Often, individuals in these circumstances perceive that they work for one particular person. In this case, they may think they worked more for your predecessor and less for the organization. Be clear that you all support the organization and its stakeholders, such as clients and customers. Stress that as a manager you have a responsibility to make sure that the stakeholders are being served. Your accountability, and theirs, goes beyond the chain of command.
Put action behind your words. Show them that you are part of the team and that you value the work that each staff member does. Be willing to roll up your sleeves and help with routine tasks if the situation requires it. Offer to help, as a way of better understanding what it is that they do. It will help gain their confidence and trust.
Finally, communicate any changes that need to be made. Explain why the changes are necessary. Give the staff warning before you implement them, but do so in a timely manner. This will increase your credibility with them.
Remember that this is an adjustment period and that it's a process. Give your staff the time to adjust while holding them accountable.
Question: My new job means I am managing former peers and friends. In addition to assigning work and monitoring progress on projects, I will be evaluating their performance. Are there some ways to let them know that things have changed and that we must work together differently?
Answer: You've got some hard work ahead of you. It isn't easy to change hats and manage people you consider to be your friends, but it's certainly possible to successfully move from peer to boss — and it starts as soon as the announcement is made that you're now in charge.
Hopefully, your organization has selected you for this role because you've exhibited the qualities a good manager needs to have, including the ability to motivate others, good delegation skills, and excellent communication skills. If you need to refresh your skills, there are lots of books, podcasts, YouTube videos, and blogs available to help you hit the ground running.
Your first meeting with your team is critical, but you may want to wait a day or two for the news to settle before you jump in with both feet. Let people adjust to the fact that you are now their manager before you let your team know what is expected of them. They need to hear that you will support them in any way possible and will get out of their way so they can do the jobs they were hired for. What makes your situation somewhat uneasy is that you have some personal relationships with certain people, and they know you in a way, perhaps, that most people don't know their bosses.
Meet one-on-one with each person who reports to you and clarify your expectations. Let them know your goals for the department and how you see them contributing to its success. Clearly spell out that you value each person and their contributions to the organization while reminding them that you now have a different role to play.
In these conversations, be professional and open to hearing your team members' ideas. Acknowledge that you will be holding them accountable for their work and that you will support them in any way possible. Ask them to express any concerns they have, and respond to those concerns. Make a commitment to each person that you will be fair and honest in all your dealings with them.
This is the time to be clear about another aspect of your new role. Now that you're responsible for the team's performance, you have lots of additional responsibilities and many meetings to attend so you probably won't be as available as you once were for lunches or after-work activities. You certainly don't want to cut off all informal contact with your team — just back off a bit from the socialization.
There may be people who can't handle the new relationship and you will have to make hard decisions — but that's what managers do. Just keep in mind that your responsibility is to the team and to the success of the organization. If you need help, ask your HR support. And if you have a mentor, this is a perfect time to ask for guidance as you manage your new responsibilities and your team.
Question: I'm settling into my new role managing my department and I'm developing a good rapport with my team. However, I'm not sure that's enough. What else should I be doing?
Answer: A big challenge for a new manager, whether you're new to the role or new to the organization, is fitting in and learning how things get done. Beyond understanding the organization, which is important, you have to develop political savvy. You need to begin by learning the organization — its structure and complexity. Some organizations have a traditional hierarchical structure; some are flatter or have a matrix structure with people often working on cross-functional teams. The structure is going to affect how information flows, and understanding this is critical, so learn it early. Equally important, determine who the gatekeepers of the information are — those individuals who control the flow of information. Also, pay attention to how ideas flow in your organization. Do they flow freely? Do team members have the freedom to either act on good ideas or at least bring them forward?
Practice management by walking around, inside and outside of your department. Be observant and ask questions. Pay attention to the people and the action around you. How is the work being done? What are people saying about your department? Whether the feed-back you're getting is positive or negative, don't settle on hearsay. Go to the source to get the best information that you can and invite comments and criticism. You will not be able to make any positive changes unless you understand the changes that need to be made.
Curiosity is one of the most important tools you should be using in your management journey. Curious people are always learning because they're always asking questions, reading up on topics outside their field of expertise, and generally exploring. Being curious and asking questions is a good way to engage other people.
Be curious about what's going on in your organization. Start with finding out what other departments or teams are doing. Not only do you learn about the work, you can learn more about other managers. Be genuine and let them know that you want to hear more about their work and their teams. And listen carefully to what they say!
If you're curious, you're also likely to ask about the challenges your external and internal customers face. It will help you gain a deeper understanding of what's going on in the organization, and what others are facing. It's also a great way to build new relationships!
Question: Now that I'm a manager, someone advised me that I have to be mindful of perception — what other people think of me and what I do. I've always considered myself a straight-forward individual. Do I have to change who I am?
Answer: You've gotten some good advice about being mindful of what others think, but no, it doesn't mean you have to change who you are. Just be aware how you present yourself. People will be watchingyou — your team, your peers, and your leadership — and all those people will have new expectations of you because of your new role. They are forming opinions based on their interpretations of what they see you doing and saying.
So what, exactly, should you be mindful of as you settle into your new role? Here are some things to consider:
Your dress and physical appearance. Workplaces today have indeed become more casual, so, depending on the industry and the nature of your workplace, you want to dress suitably for your normal workday environment. If your workplace is casual, however, avoid anything outlandish that draws negative attention to you. Any stylist and image consultant will advise you to dress for where your day will take you. If you have meetings outside the office, you may need to forego casual and dress in more traditional business attire. Beyond clothing, don't forget to check the mirror periodically to ensure you're well groomed. You don't want to appear disheveled.
Your workspace. We all have different ways of organizing our work and projects so we can work efficiently. Some people have items in file folders, others in piles. Keep in mind, however, that as people enter your workplace, they will form an impression of you. Will they see a busy manager or chaos? Though some people may like to work at a relatively clear desk, no one expects your workplace to be pristine all the time. Be mindful of keeping things haphazardly cast around your office (boxes or piles of things sitting around the floor, for example). Such a habit will not cast you in the best light.
Your language. It goes without saying that you should use professional language in the workplace. Avoid slang and jargon. You may be used to a looser, less-formal style of communications, which may have been fine in your former environment or role. However, that's not where you are now. Not everyone will "get" that style of speaking and communicating, or understand that you may be joking if you respond to others with barbs and sarcasm.
Your manners. Beyond table manners, and you should use good ones at business meals, don't forget common sense. When you're introduced to someone, stand if you're sitting. Shake hands or otherwise acknowledge them and learn their name. Repeat their name ("It's nice to meet you, Mary Smith") during the introduction. Be attentive to others. Don't interrupt or finish a person's sentence. Say "please," "thank you," and "excuse me." Be gracious and accept compliments. Be punctual for meetings, but if you're delayed, do you best to get a message to the host. When you arrive, be inconspicuous when you join so you aren't disruptive.
Warren Buffett said, "It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently."
Question: I am adjusting to my new managerial responsibilities but am struggling with feeling cut off from the people I used to brainstorm with. Where can I go for help — maybe even some guidance as I work to maximize my effectiveness as a manager?
Answer: Lots of new managers experience these issues because so many people think that they should be able to do it all. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness! It's not easy to manage people, so don't hesitate to look for guidance when you need it. So many managers try to do everything themselves because they think they need to know everything and don't want anyone to suspect they don't know it all. This is a huge mistake, and it is how many managers derail careers. You're ahead of the game to have recognized that you can't do it all yourself.
Consider asking if your organization would provide you with a coach who could help you as you navigate your new role. However, if that's not possible, look for mentors either inside or outside your organizations. A mentor can be extremely helpful as you seek to leadyour team successfully. Be sure to select mentors who are knowledgeable and trustworthy.
You also may want to consider starting meetup sessions with other managers in your organization. Even the experienced ones will want or need help from time to time. Set a time to meet and come up with some ground rules including nothing that's said leaves the room to ensure you can be open and honest with each other. I'll bet that each manager has knowledge, a skill, or expertise that others would like to hear about and use when needed. Take advantage of those free resources.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Manager's Answer Book"
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Mitchell and Cornelia Gamlem.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction: How to Use This Book 11
Section 1 You're a New Manager, Now What? 15
Section 2 Developing Your Management Skills 47
Section 3 Building and Managing Your Team 79
Section 4 Creating Your Personal Brand 111
Section 5 Managing Up, Down, and Around 135
Section 6 Avoiding Potential Land Mines 161
Section 7 Recognizing Legal Pitfalls 185
Glossary of Management and Business Terms 203
About the Authors 221