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New manager? Avoid making decisions for their own sake

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in Your Office Coach

Q: "I recently replaced a manager who held this job for seven years. Since the employees are obviously accustomed to his style, I want to make it clear that they have a new boss with a new way of doing things. Another manager told me that he changed his staff’s seating arrangement on his very first day. Do you think that would help send the message?"  Making Waves

A: Reshuffling the staff will definitely send a message, but not the one you have in mind. Unless there’s a logical reason, the clear message will be that you make arbitrary decisions in order to demonstrate your power. Since people hate being forcibly moved, they will quickly come to resent you. Not exactly the best start for a new manager.

Instead, consider holding a “transition meeting” to begin a dialogue with your employees. Start by discussing the strengths you see in this group. Talk about how your leadership style differs from your predecessor’s and warn them about your hot buttons. Outline your plans for change, then solicit their comments and questions. 

Next, meet with people individually to learn about their goals, accomplishments, challenges, and frustrations. Continue to have frequent discussions until everyone gets through the inevitable learning curve that comes with having a new boss.

Are you a brand new manager? Here are some suggestions for success: Twelve Tips for New Managers.

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