As a New Manager – Ask the Tough Questions Up Front

Monday, December 2, 2013 , Cost Reduction, by Rich Rafdahl

When assuming a new management role either as a new or existing employee, it is vital that you are absolutely clear as to the expectations and objectives for the position assumed.  Even though you may be well versed on what was described in the job description, this may not provide you the full story of what your manager and company expect of you. I have found that an in-depth initial discussion with your immediate manager regarding their areas of greatest concerns,  the pinch DSCN0055points within the department, key points of interest, you and your department’s goals and how your performance will be graded – are critical to success.  Obviously, you were promoted or hired because you have the knowledge, skills and talent to achieve the results that are expected but to ensure that you are on the same page as your supervisor, I suggest scheduling a periodic meeting to provide an update on progress, issues and achievements.   This allows you the opportunity to explain any changes in strategy and approach, new situations that have come up, resolutions achieved as well as to ask questions regarding clarification or approval on your next steps.   In addition these meetings provide your manager an opportunity to offer feedback and direction if they are so inclined.  The objective is to ensure you and your manager are in sync with no chance of misunderstanding.

One of the other strategies I have found helpful when assuming a new management role is to meet with key staff within the organization who have worked with, rely on or are routinely in contact with my department, in order to establish a friendly professional relationship upfront. During these initial meetings, I also like to take time to really understand their individual roles and responsibilities and what issues or successes they had experienced with the department prior to my arrival. I wanted to learn what other department’s perspectives or realities were of my team so that I could work towards improving the experience for all internal and external customers. As we all know some stakeholders will readily volunteer their insights or experiences but others may need to be asked. I believe by asking these tough questions it lets my audience know that I am interested in addressing whatever issues have affected them. Obviously, we need to take all this feedback and information with grain of salt but I believe the more informed we are – the more likely our success.

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