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My Boss Says I'm Moving Too Fast. Now What?

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Question: “After only five days in my new management job, my boss says I’m changing things too fast and need to slow down. But I haven't changed anything. I’ve just been asking a lot of questions, yet people still seem upset with me. This is a small company, and they’ve never had a manager in this department. The company hired me to implement new policies and procedures. I’m confused about how to handle this situation. What should I do?” Ready to Take Over

Marie's Answer: If the boss is reining you in after only five days, you need to re-evaluate your approach. Otherwise, people may resist the changes you eventually make. First, clarify what your boss means by “changing things too fast.”  Ask for specific feedback about what you should stop doing or start doing. Here are a few other points to consider:

* Remember that probing questions can sound like criticism.  For example, asking “Why have you never held regular budget reviews?” implies that something is wrong with financial practices.

* Look for what’s right as well as what’s wrong.  Spotting problems can help you make improvements, but sharing sincere compliments will help you be accepted.

* Don’t keep talking about “how we did it in my last company.”

* Spend as much time building relationships as you do learning about policies, procedures and practices.  If people accept you, they are more likely to support your changes.

* Expect resistance or defensiveness.  Incumbents always have an emotional investment in the status quo, even if they recognize the need for change.

* Involve appropriate people in your change efforts. You have expertise in your field, but they know their company.  Combining those two perspectives almost always produces better results.

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