When you take up a new management position—actually sit in the manager's chair—it is natural to feel some pangs of uncertainty in the new environment.
1. Avoid becoming too visible too soon
In the early days many people will be eager to see what your approach will be, particularly in terms of changes to 'the way things are done around here'. Let there be a touch of mystery about your presence in these early stages. Just as you will go out to meet your staff, let some of them come to you. Don't show your hand until you are ready. Use this period to gather information and plan.
2. Focus on the important things first
Don't try to master all aspects of your new position. Ask your superior to list the three or four most important responsibilities of your job, and make every effort in these early days to master them first.
3. Avoid making snap judgements
Don't fall into the trap of making snap judgements about who's important, who's going to be your ally, who's the most impressive operator, and so on. It's smart not to form set opinions about people until you know them well and have seen them interacting with others. Similarly, be wary of those negative stories about who's out to get whom, who's about to get fired, who's cheating, and so on. Keep an open mind and make your own judgements much later.
4. Peruse the files
Company files will provide you with essential background information about the organisation and help you find out what's important to the organisation, how things have been done in the past, and what the current issues are.
5. Become familiar with the way the organisation works
Familiarise yourself with the regular routine of the organisation, its communication networks, and the mechanics of daily life in the workplace. If necessary, fill your briefcase each night with reading matter that will help you, through home study, become acquainted with the organisation and, in particular, with that part of the business for which you are now responsible. Such documents would include annual reports, handbooks, newsletters, procedures manuals, and company prospectuses and brochures.
6. Get to know your staff
Seek out or compile an organisation chart showing staff positions and responsibilities. Over the following weeks, as you obtain any missing information, the chart will become more detailed; your knowledge of the organisation will grow. Get to know your people by name and be able to talk to them about their areas of interest both inside and outside the workplace. Focus your efforts on such questions as these:
What do you do and why? Who and what do you depend on to do a good job? What would enable you to do a better job? Are there things you do that could be done more quickly, or not at all, with little or no loss of value? What would you like to spend more time doing? Would that activity help the team and our customers? Are you fully stretched? Could some of the things you do be delegated to a lower cost resource without serious loss of quality? How can you best help me to help the team? If you were in my position, what other steps would you take to improve the team's overall performance and morale?
7. Endear yourself to your boss's secretary
Entrepreneur and manager Mark McCormack offers the following advice to all new managers, urging them to be aware of the importance of communicating upstairs: 'Most people either fail to appreciate the power of the boss's secretary as gatekeeper to the executive suite or neglect to turn that, through a warm personal comment, to their advantage. I'm convinced that my secretary could persuade me to see anyone—or, conversely, prevent me from hearing his or her name—depending on the impression that person has made.' The boss's personal assistant can become a valuable ally in getting your future ideas through the system. Cultivate the relationship.
8. Avoid the whingers
Gripe sessions about other people are common practice in most organisations. There'll be those who will want to ingratiate themselves to you in the early days by downgrading the worth of others. Their remarks are often misleading, so try to stay clear of these encounters. Remember, if you are too receptive to such people, you may acquire the kind of reputation you don't want.
9. If necessary, restrict your social life
For the first few weeks at least, you should try to keep your outside social life to a minimum. After at least nine hours of intense concentration learning the ins and outs of your new position, you should be exhausted anyway, and will need time to recover overnight. Besides, the new job should be the focus of your attention in these early days.
Smile and ponder
Fred Walker had just been promoted into a management position with the company. He felt very insecure being ushered into his new office. Nevertheless, he looked with pride at his new surroundings as he settled into his high-backed leather chair. There was a knock at the door. Fred, wanting to look busy, confident, and important, picked up the receiver of his phone. He then asked the visitor to come in. When the young man entered, the new manager nodded toward him and said, 'I'll only be a minute. I'll just finish off this call.' He continued into the phone, 'No problem, we can certainly handle that account. Yes, I realise it's the largest this company has ever had. You can count on me. You're welcome. Good-bye.' Fred put the receiver down and turned to his visitor. Smiling, he asked, 'Now, what can I do for you?' The young man smiled and replied, 'Well, I've come to connect your telephone.'
The point of the story is that, when you take up your new job, try not to look too impressive. Vanity can lead to some embarrassing predicaments.
“Concentrate and focus all your attention on getting the basics done promptly. The important thing is to come to grips with your new job quickly and be effective in your output.”
And don’t forget …
When moving from the workface to a management position, you'll need to make these important adjustments:
- Expand and raise your own sights and become aware of new responsibilities which entail seeing things from a new perspective.
- Leave the world of specifics and details and be ready to deal with the unknown.
- Shift interest from 'things' to 'people' and make decisions affecting them.
- Realise that you are dependent more than ever before on the work of others.
- Accept responsibility for those whose work you cannot know and often cannot do or even control yourself.
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This document does not constitute human resource or legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should contact the HR Help Desk or seek professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content. © Wentworth Advantage Pty Ltd 2017