Expert Panel

Focus on these things to succeed in First Time Manager or Supervisor

Get to Know Individuals, Not Just Your Team.


By Emilie Shoop, Creator and Leader of Shoop Training & Consulting

Now that you have stepped into your management role, you will want to meet the team.  Most new managers have a kickoff, a pow-wow, or some sort of celebration to start the momentum of the new era under their leadership.  This is a great start, especially if there either have been, or will be, a lot of other changes.  If someone retired and you took over, a lot of fanfare might not really be called for.


However, this is just a start. 

Your next task is to get to know each team member.  One of the keys to being an engaged employee is knowing that your boss really cares about you as an individual.  As you start to manage your team, you need to be sure that each person knows that you do care.  The amount of time you invest on this step, will greatly effect how quickly your team starts to trust you.


Schedule one-on-ones.

Start by scheduling a 10-20 minute one-on-one session with each employee.  Announce to the team that you will be doing this, and what to expect.  Ask them to share a little bit about their history and aspirations within the organization.  Remember, everyone will be looking to make a good impression on you, let them!  It also gives you a chance to make a good impression on them.


Schedule some small group discussions.

After your one-on-ones have passed, what can you do to continue to get to know each person as an individual?  Schedule some small group discussions.  Take a look at your notes from all of the conversations you had with each employee.  What trends did you notice?  Any common complaints?  Any common goals? 


Use smaller discussions as a way to gather information about the topic at hand, but also as a tool to get to know each person.  Are they passionate?  Do they back down?  What motivates them?  Are they happy around others?  Is anything upsetting them?  The small group atmosphere will allow you to learn more about each of them, and they will be less likely to be trying to just sell you on their performance as an employee.


Continue to dig deeper.

As you move forward, how can you dig deeper and get to know more about each employee?  At this point, it will be dependent on what you learned about the person initially.  Apply what you learned initially to build more rapport.


Are they looking for… more money?  …recognition? …stability? …a challenge?  … more meaning?  …more variety?


Who are they outside of work?  Mom?  Dad?  Grandparent?  Coach?  Volunteer?  Single?  Movie buff?  Politically active?  Artist?  Dog lover?  Cat hater?


Are they private or public?  This is really important when you start to figure out how you are going to acknowledge a job well done, or give constructive criticism.  A private person may not want their name in lights.  A public person may become disgruntled over lack of recognition.  Pay attention to individual needs of your team as you develop your plans.


Your new team not only wants you to know who they are as an employee, but outside of the office.  Some may want for you to really know everything about them.  Others will give you just what they are comfortable with.  That is ok; just get to know them at whatever level they are comfortable.  Just remember that we are all so much more than our job titles and roles, and want to be thought of as a person.


Rinse and Repeat.

Now that you have met with each individual, gotten to know them in various group sessions, and then dug deeper, what’s next?  Rinse and repeat.  Continue to develop those relationships and build trust and rapport.


It is extremely easy to be excited in your new role and start off with a bang, but end in a fizzle.  The more you settle into your role, the busier you will feel.  The more your team gets to know you, the more they will ask of you.  Don’t let your efforts to know the individuals on your team fizzle out, or you will have wasted your time.


People can be amazingly fickle.  If your team sees you as this great, engaging new manager, and then sees you being too busy for them, they are likely to turn on you.  But can you blame them?  Is that how you would want to be treated?  Not me! 


Find your own style of what works for you to manage and lead your team.  However, be sure that your engagement strategy is top on the list.  Having all the processes and procedures in place as manager will mean nothing if your team isn’t engaged in getting the work done.


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Written by Emilie Shoop
First Time Manager or Supervisor Expert for ManagingAmericans.com, Creator and Leader of Shoop Training & Consulting


What part of your transition to management has been the most difficult?