You need to begin to get the measure of people early on. Beware of thinking you are an expert psychologist, but do:
You need to get to know people, their working methods, strengths and weaknesses. This cannot be done in five minutes; start early and handle it objectively.
Beware of making, and acting on unwarranted, instant assumptions about people.
A First Staff Meeting:
Get the team together as soon as possible, on the first day if you can. Remember, your meetings speak volumes about the kind of manager you are. Plan to make them really effective, therefore.
A meeting should motivate. People will wonder how your presence and style will affect them. Show them your impact will be beneficial. Spell out how.
The agenda for the first meeting will depend on your precise role. It is likely to include items such as:
You should ask as much as inform, and not change existing procedures without good reasons (and knowing the facts). However logical changes may be, people will be suspicious (Will it adversely affect me?) so see, and explain things, from their point of view. Empathy is your greatest ally in the early stages of managing a group.
Early Issue: Early Action
Here is something to do as soon as possible (though always with a firm basis of information). Identify an issue waiting for attention and which is seen as needing attention. And sort it out.
Something where you can:
You need a task that is seen as due (overdue?) for action, one that will also be seen as well resolved – an example of how you mean to go on. Select carefully, act in a considered fashion and this will not only clear an outstanding issue but will also say something positive about you.
Consultation is important to the management process but there are times when arguments must be avoided and an authoritative approach taken. If every initiative involved lengthy consultation, time would run out, little would get done and we would all be in trouble.
You, might, for example, consult about departmental policy on dress code or what can be claimed on expenses. Then – for a while at least – what is decided (what you decide) assumes the status of a rule. It is expected that people toe the line, and no time is wasted on endless arguments about exceptions. In due course you may need to reassess the situation and possibly change the rules.
The same can be said of meetings (When we set the date for a staff meeting, we all stick to it and start on time) and procedures (When certain documents are sent out you get a copy – always) .
How you act in this kind of way affects your profile as a manager. If people say of you: If you attend one of Jonathan’s meetings you’d better be on time, it is surely a good thing – as long as they believe you are a manager who understands their point of view.
Copyright © 2007 Jonathan Farrington. All rights reserved
Jonathan Farrington is the Managing Partner of The jfa Group . To find out more about the author, subscribe to his newsletter for dedicated sales professionals or to read his weekly blog, visit: http://www.jonathanfarrington.com