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Managing Editor, Network World Fusion

More for new managers

Jan 21, 20033 mins
Data Center

* Readers offer advice on what you should do when taking over a new team

A few weeks ago in this newsletter I answered a reader who wanted advice on taking over a new team (see link below). He didn’t hire any of these people and wanted to ensure a good, clean start. Most of my suggestions revolved around establishing a good line of communication and finding out what the employees want and how they do their jobs.

I asked readers for what they would add from their experiences, as many of us have found ourselves in the same position. Here are some of the excellent tips people offered:

* Larry  is a project manager who finds himself managing new teams several times each year. He advocates having a facilitated discussion, in which the team members interview you as a manager. “Prior to the interview, the facilitator asks the team to put together questions. You open the discussion by telling your team some things about you personally (family, hobbies, first job, why you are there, etc.) and you add information about your management style and what the team can expect from you in terms of commitment, energy, etc. Then the discussion is opened up with the facilitator reading questions and you answering them. When the Q&A is complete, you take down one or two action items and then go have lunch or dinner together. I have had people tell me how refreshing this process is. I have quickly made friends with many on the team when I share my woodworking hobby or share how I am active in my local church, and I have had many team members over the years say, ‘I really appreciated that very first week when we interviewed you.’ “

* Kevin took over an IT department with over 20 staffers: “I came from the department, so I already knew everyone, but the trauma of having a new manager is still there. I quickly held a department-wide staff meeting and informed everyone that I would not make any immediate changes to the structure or assignments and that I might tweak the organization a bit in the future. Once I fully understood the workings of the department, I made some small incremental changes to improve efficiencies, job satisfaction and career growth opportunities. I also announced my open door policy and made a promise that if anyone had a question on anything, I would answer them as honestly as I could.  There were three options on how I would answer the question.  Either I knew and would tell them, I did not know and would tell them that (and I would try to find out and get back to them), or if I knew but could not disclose the information, I would tell them that as well. I have kept my promise, a number of people have been promoted, several new people have been hired, training has been provided, the department productivity is up, and life has been good in the trenches.”

* Tamara: “One additional piece of advice is if this is a new company the manager is working for, they must check the company’s policies and procedures, as well as visit with the Human Resources before making any changes or promises to individuals or the team.”

Thank you to everyone for the excellent advice. Next time we find ourselves in such a spot, we’ll all have a blueprint for a good start.