Sunday, March 21, 2010

Learn to Manage

Congratulations! You've been promoted to, or hired for, a management position. The job is waiting for you but what about the people? No workplace is complete with out its nuances and office-politics. If you think that technical knowledge is enough to succeed at your new position, time to wake up. There's a lot more to know.

Understand that management is "them" of the company. If you have moved up the ranks, your relationships are about to change. You simply cannot allow yourself to be friends with the same people you have to manage. Friendly yes; friends no. Anyone who has made the mistake of retaining those close friendships and then had to fire one of those friends will understand. In order to manage people well, you have to remain objective.

From the onset, let the staff know what your expectations are. How are they to be evaluated? Learn what their goals are. Also, learn to consult with your staff. Their experience is most valuable. At the same time, be sure to clarify what upper management expects of you. A common mistake is to hire managers but not supply them with all the tools they need. Don't be afraid to admit that you don't know everything.

If you see problems with certain staff, especially those who may be rejecting your new position, address the problem immediately. Your popularity is not the concern. That has to be built over a period of time. Your goal is to manage an effective team and that starts day one. Don't remain aloof. Your office is your workplace, not a private sanctum. A sign of a healthy situation is well tread carpet from that office leading in both directions.

It is often effective to listen to office gossip, not get caught up in it (or necessarily believe anything). The informal workings of a workplace are part of its lifeblood. You have to know the who's who but don't take sides, just listen. It would be a mistake to assign two employees at loggerheads with each other to a mutual task. Perhaps you can help them solve their differences but work comes first.

Step by step, establish your authority, build your contacts and learn to listen. Effective communication in all directions is your best ally.

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