You're In Charge, Now What?
A Leadership Guide for New Supervisors
by Gregory P. Smith
Congratulations you are the new boss! Building trust and credibility as a leader is like building a house. It begins with a plan, laying a solid foundation and proceeds one step at a time. Whether
this is your first supervisory position or you are an experienced manager you should proceed with your transition methodically the first 90 days on the job. How do you quickly establish yourself with
those you lead? What do you do first? Here are a few ideas to consider:
Delay making major decisions-Don't allow yourself to be pressured in making major changes or big decisions during the beginning of your transition. Try to take a low-key approach until you
are ready for your first group meeting. Gather information, see how things are done and get to know your people before disrupting status quo. Once you gain "acceptance," understand why they
do what they do, then your people will more willingly support you, your changes and your leadership style.
Identify the informal leaders-Informal leaders will make you or break you. The first thing I did when taking over a new assignment was to find and try to befriend the informal leaders.
Informal leaders are those who control and influence people in your office or organization. In the beginning, they have more power than you do. In some situations, the informal leader is respected by
others . . .sometimes they are irritants. Nonetheless, try to make them your allies so they don't sabotage what you are trying to do. If you work in a unionized environment make sure you keep union
officials informed and involved as much as possible.
Find the history-Discover what successes your group is proud of. A leader gains respect when taking the time to know what the group has done in the past. Recognizing accomplishments of the
past will help build your credibility for future goal setting.
Interview your people-I worked for a leader who personally interviewed everyone in the organization. This is time consuming but paid dividends. It took several weeks, but he immediately
established himself, gained the respect of everyone and captured critical information. Since you are new and perceived as neutral, people are more willing to tell you the "truth" about the
work environment. Here are questions to ask.
- What can I do to help you accomplish your job?
- What is keeping you from doing your best?
- What makes you feel appreciated?
- What did my predecessor do that we should continue?
- What did my predecessor do that we should stop?
- Are you considering leaving this job for another? Why?
- What do you see as my role in this organization?
- What direction do you think we should go?
Begin problem-solving-With information gained from the interviews begin making changes to some of the common issues/problems affecting your group. This will show you are serious about
helping make worklife better.
Conduct a group meeting-Avoid having a group meeting until you have something specific to say and enough background information to speak with authority. At the meeting highlight their past
successes, some of the issues or problems affecting the group and what you plan on doing. Talk about some of the changes you are considering and why. Here are some other items to cover in this
- Your background and experience
- Just enough personal information to show you are human
- Your expectations
- Your pet peeves
- Your leadership style
- How they should approach you with problems
- What to do with new ideas and suggestions
Set Goals-Now that you have gained the respect and trust of your group you are now ready to set goals for the future. There are many ways to set goals, but the main thing is don't do it in
the dark. If you followed these steps in this article, goal setting will be a piece of cake. Depending on your style of leadership and experience level will dictate the best way.
Gregory P. Smith shows managers how to build productive and profitable work environments that attract, keep and motivate their workforce. He speaks at conferences, conducts
management training and is the President of a management-consulting firm called Chart Your Course International located in Conyers, Georgia. Phone him at (770) 860-9464 or send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information and articles are available at www.ChartCourse.com.