New Managers Need to Understand Each Employee
Men and women are promoted to management positions for a variety of reasons. Usually, success in their current position, good relationship skills and the proven ability to execute assignments themselves are key factors. That said, experience as an employee alone is not evidence of the qualifications that will be needed as a manager. On a number of occasions, I have observed a good employee being turned into a bad manager because of assumptions made about their ability to manage people.
There are a number of key people management skills that must be learned and applied as a successful team leader. When a new manager is appointed to lead a team of employees, there is little time and a high urgency to begin learning the art & science of delegation. This is critical to the growth and success of the new Manager.
The manager’s success is directly related to his or her ability to get the team to execute assignments effectively. Getting things done through others is what leadership of a team or work unit is all about.
You will need to master a number of skills and techniques for delegating work assignments. These skills and techniques (develop plans, the basics of delegating What, When & How of assignments, Tracking, etc.), all become much of the “science” of delegation. What you also need is to master the “Art” of delegating successfully.
Understanding the Unique Skills of Each Employee
Getting a clear and accurate picture of the unique characteristics of each employee is critical. I refer to this as “triangulating” the uniqueness of each team member. Pinpointing important traits and characteristics that effect behavior and execution in the work place. This triangulation provides the new manager with a number of reference points as to how to begin managing work assignments by delegating for best results to each individual.
One of the best methods I have experienced involves getting to know a number of valuable insights about each employee early in the new managers relationship and before delegating important work assignments.
Set up a meeting with each employee to get acquainted and lay the ground work for an effective manager-employee relationship. Explain that you are all about understanding and relating to members of your team.
Let them know you are excited about your new role as manager, that you appreciate that each person on the team is unique and has much to offer to the success of the unit and that you are committed to working with each person effectively.
Key Questions a New manager Should Be Asking
This sets the stage for real manager/employee productivity. The next step in this method is to take the time and attention to ask some basic but very effective questions as a starting place to get a strong handle on the unique characteristics of each individual team member:
- How long have you been in this unit and what have been your roles and responsibilities?
- This may seem logical and the new manager may very well know what each person’s job description is supposed to be.
- But in years of real world experience, a number of times the employees answer to this question reveals a “disconnect” between the job’s stated expectations and the employees perceptions.
- This provides the manager with a great opportunity to re-align any misconceptions and clear things up.
- What unique skills and abilities do you feel you bring to the team?
- Here the opportunity is for the manager to see clearly how the employee feels about their skills and what they can/could contribute to the job and the team.
- Very often the employee may “vent” a bit about how they haven’t been given a chance or how underutilized their abilities may be. That frustration can be turned into passion for the job as the manager begins to work with the employee.
- What kind of work environment helps you to perform at your best?
- This question gives the manager some key insights. Very often the employee will answer in a way that may uncover any issues they perceive about the current work environment.
- Their answer will also tell you a lot about how important they may feel the environment is to performance.
- What are the characteristics of an effective manager as you see it?
- This question can uncover the level of sophistication the employee has or the lack there of.
- They may not open up entirely to this question but whatever they choose to disclose will tell the manager a lot about how to work effectively with this employee.
- If you could change anything related to how you have been managed in the past, what would it be?
- The answer to this question may reveal past conflicts and problems with a previous manager.
- It allows the new manager to seek more understanding of the issues and make some notes about the potential behaviors of the employee.
- This question also reveals more insight into what the employee feels they can do if given a chance.
- Is there anything you need as a member of this team that would make you more effective at your job.
- The employee may reveal needs or frustrations about resources. If several employees bring up the same issue the manager may uncover a way to gain the teams support by solving the problem.
- This could also uncover employee attitudes such as making excuses for lack of productivity because they don’t have resources.
Effective Delegation Means Matching Tasks to Employee Skills
With this starting point, a new manager has quickly “triangulated” valuable information to bring each team member into clear focus. This will provide the new manager with significant insight into how to delegate assignments to each employee.
As each new project and assignment comes along the manager will be able to match work assignments with people, anticipate needs and potential issues that might occur. They can also frame the clarity of how they communicate the assignment much more effectively because they will be able to delegate through the eyes of each unique employee.