There is no “I” in team: Remind your new manager that they are making a transition from being an individual contributor to leading a team. And there is no “I” in team. As an individual contributor, the employee was judged on what they did individually. But now as a manager, they are judged on what their team does. If you hear reports back from your new manager on how “I” did this or “I” got that process going, coach them to the team aspect for their job. While the manager is an important part of the team, they can’t individually make everything happen.
Promote communication: Make sure your new manager is an effective communicator with their staff. Encourage them to have regular meetings (efficient, schedule respective… not just a meeting for the sake of a meeting). Suggest they sit down individually with each member of their team in the first 30 days to get to know them, almost a short, very casual interview. And also make sure they are communicating with you on their activities, schedule, challenges, etc.
“Don’t rock the boat”: During their initial meeting with their new team, have them basically say these exact words: “I am not here to rock the boat and make huge changes. I want to learn what you folks are doing, how the department runs, etc. and join together with you to move forward.” All employees are apprehensive about a new manager, and they don’t want someone stepping in and messing up everything they have worked on for so long. Even if you and the new manager know down deep that changes need to be made, the new manager will have more support and respect if they don’t come in “guns blazing” but spend some time in the trenches learning how things currently operate. Often, the current employees know how to best change things anyway, so a new manager should ask them for ideas (back to participatory management again).
Instill in them that the “Bottom Line is the Bottom Line”: New managers say they know this, but help instill in them a sense of fiscal responsibility. Their ultimate goal should be building the company and increasing profits. They do this through building an effective team, managing expenses, increasing margins, providing excellent customer service and working efficiently. Spend some time pouring over the financials with the new manager. Help them understand how the money flows in and out of your company and their department.
Don’t forget to have fun along the way. Work is hard sometimes, and actually should be. That means you and your team are putting in some required energy to be successful. But smile along the way! We hope these ideas help you engage, and retain key employees and successfully start them in a management position once one is available. Good luck!
Jim Miller is an area manager for Primeland Cooperatives, a division of Cenex Harvest States, Inc, headquartered in Lewiston, ID. Dr. John Foltz is interim dean, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and professor, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID. Dr. Christine Wilson is assistant dean, College of Agriculture, and associate professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS.