New Management Blues
So there you are settled comfortably in your work routine and along comes the inevitable winds of change. Your current manager leaves the company or gets promoted and suddenly a new sheriff is coming to town. We all know that any time there is a personnel change within a company, the entire system and everyone in it is going to be affected. There are steps that both the new manager and the employees can take and thought processes that can be adopted to make the transition a positive one. Having been both an employee and a new manager I would like to share what I have learned.
The incoming manager is likely to be just as apprehensive about taking over a new department as the employees are about getting a new manager. If the new manager has been promoted from within the company there may be resentment and jealousy within the department that will have to be resolved. The new manager may now be managing someone with whom they are friends. Being accused of favoritism toward an employee may be a concern. If the new manager is an outside hire, then he or she could be uneasy about working for a new company where they may not know anyone and are not entirely sure of what lies ahead for them.
From the employee’s standpoint, they have become accustomed to the way the departing manager operated. The employees and the manager found ways of functioning together that worked well for everyone. The employees may not have always agreed with their manager, but at least they knew what to expect. They may be concerned that the new boss will change procedures and they will have to learn new procedures that may not work as well. They may be worried about the management style of the new boss and how they will all get along together.
Now, let’s take a step back and look at this from a little higher vantage point. The new manager and the employees have a few important things in common… They are all human. No one is perfect. This situation is equally stressful for the employees and the incoming manager.
A new manager would be wise to begin their new position by taking time to learn everything they can about the current procedures and how the department interacts with other departments. I also recommend that they interview each employee they will be managing. Get to know them and find out what they like and don’t like about the way things have been done in the past. Be aware of the employees’ need to be respected and valued. They are apprehensive about you and the changes you might make. If not under pressure from upper management to do so, don’t make any changes for at least 30 – 60 days. Making changes too quickly can be counter-productive. If you were promoted from within the company and there are jealousy or resentment issues among those who now report to you, it is best to address those issues immediately so they do not become exacerbated and cause problems within the department.
As employees, it is easy to get seduced by the “story” of a new manger coming in and turning the whole department upside down. Thoughts of that nature lead to feelings of being victims with no control over the outcome. In most situations, it is the way we choose to think about something that creates the outcome. Think of your new boss as an opportunity for positive change and brush away thoughts of negativity on the subject. Ask your co-workers to work together to make the new manager feel welcome. I encourage you to remember that the new manager is a human being just like you. Even if they don’t show it, he or she may be feeling out of place, uncomfortable and a little unsure of themselves. Treat them with kindness and respect. If the new manager is an outside hire, offer to give him or her a tour of the building. As a group, ask the new manager to meet with you and tell you his or her objectives for the department. Find out what is important to him or her and make sure that gets done. As an employee, one goal is to help make the manager’s job easier by doing what is supposed to be done when and how it needs to be done. Keep in mind that when an employee makes a mistake, the manager is the one on the front line with upper management. Maintain your integrity at all times. Do not become a “yes” man or woman, just be honest and supportive of your manager. Help your manager to achieve his or her goals and you will have a strong advocate when it comes time for a salary increase or promotion.
In closing I will add that there is one thing we can all count on… nothing will ever stay the same. Every cell in our body, every molecule in the universe is in a constant flux. If we try to stand still, we are likely to get left behind. So welcome change, embrace it and find out what it is here to teach you.
Recommended Reading: Who Moved My Cheese? by Dr. Spencer Johnson