As a New Manager, Get to Know Your Team

.星期二, 03/26/2013 - 09:00

Q. You’re beginning your first job in a management role. You want to be taken seriously but also want your team to like you. How do you set the right tone?

A. Within the first few days of starting as a manager, set up a time to meet individually with everyone on your team. This is your chance to show that you understand the role of a manager, which is to help people achieve their goals and be successful at their jobs, said Beth Banks Cohn, a leadership development coach in Manalapan, N.J., and co-author of “Taking the Leap: Managing Your Career in Turbulent Times ... and Beyond.”

During these meetings, ask your employees about their short- and long-term developmental aspirations. “Tell them you want to help them achieve those goals,” Ms. Cohn said. “That is key when you are a new manager — showing a real interest in each person and getting a clear sense of their goals.”

As a manager, you need to change your mind-set, said Simon Sinek, a leadership consultant in Manhattan and author of “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.” Instead of thinking of yourself as someone who performs a job, he said, see yourself as someone who helps others do theirs.

This is the manager-as-servant model, he said. A good manager looks after his or her team, fixes problems and gives employees the tools they need to excel. You will almost certainly alienate your team if you walk in and start giving orders.

“One of the big mistakes new managers make is assuming they have to be someone other than who they have been all along, and they start strutting around like the new sheriff in town,” said Martha I. Finney, author of “The Truth About Getting the Best From People,” and president of the management consulting firm Engagement Journeys, based in Santa Fe, N.M.

Q. Because you are new to management, you feel anxious about your ability to perform well. How do you handle that?

A. First, understand that the fear and anxiety you feel are normal and healthy, said Kerry J. Sulkowicz, a psychiatrist and managing principal of the Boswell Group, a management consulting firm in Manhattan. “Acknowledge to yourself that you feel this way and then act in spite of it, and it will diminish quickly with good experiences,” he said.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help or explanations from those you are managing. Although you may think it’s a sign of weakness, it’s actually the opposite, said Vicki Foley, a director at Lee Hecht Harrison, a consulting firm specializing in career transitions. Asking questions shows that you want to understand everything about your new role. It may help to ask your boss how he handled various situations that arose when he was at your level.

“New managers tend to struggle when dealing with regular, day-to-day issues, like people on the team who don’t meet deadlines,” Ms. Foley said. Your boss is likely to have suggestions.

Find a mentor. Your boss may be the obvious choice, but you could seek additional guidance from another experienced manager at the company or from a manager outside your organization who is part of your personal network, Ms. Foley said. “It can be very informal, just saying to that person, ‘I really admire what you’ve done in the last year in your managerial role and I would love to ask you some questions over lunch.’”

Q. Someone you now supervise was a friend of yours before your promotion and is having trouble seeing you as a manager, rather than a peer. How can you change that?

A. Have lunch with that person and explain that although you want to remain friends, your work relationship will have to change. Set some ground rules, Ms. Cohn said — for example, don’t talk about others in the department and don’t show favoritism because of the friendship.

If someone on your team had also applied for the manager job and resents that you got it, have a conversation that acknowledges those feelings. Then make clear that you are dedicated to helping this person succeed, so that the next time a management job becomes available he or she will be the best candidate, Ms. Cohn said.

Q. You have plans to change the way some things are done in your department and believe that the moves will be beneficial. But could making changes right away backfire?

A. Unless the group or department is in crisis, try not to make a lot of sweeping changes immediately, Ms. Cohn said. Such moves can hurt your credibility, she said, because you haven’t taken the time to become acclimated and learn how things work. “Being a good manager isn’t about what you want to do; it’s about your team,” she said. “Focus first on getting to know them.”

Keep in mind that although you are new in your job, those you manage have some experience doing theirs, so avoid trying to micromanage. And remember that your way of doing things isn’t necessarily the best, said Patricia Tedesco, president of the Executive Training & Development Group in Chalfont, Pa., and author of “Quit Telling Me What To Do: What Your Employees Are Trying to Tell You.”

“You need to have enough confidence in your team — and yourself — to let go and trust your people to do their jobs well,” she said.