Managers Walking Around

Way too often, the employees’ first contact with a new manager is at a staff meeting called to introduce the “new guy.”

If you’re that “new guy,” it’s much better all around for you to get out and visit each employee on his or her own turf. Remember, from the first moment they lay eyes on you, your direct reports are gauging how enthusiastic, overwhelmed, competent, full of yourself, trusting, trustworthy, etc. you are.

Going out to survey the workplace and meet people is a great opportunity you shouldn’t pass up. It isn’t just that it conveys an attitude of friendliness and humility – which it does – it’s also an occasion to absorb lots of information: the actual physical realities of the working conditions (equipment, space allocation, proximity among and between colleagues, etc.) and also the cultural feel – how pressured, how communicative, how warm and friendly, and so on.

Obviously, a key benefit of this “honeymoon” is to be able to start fresh with each other. Listening is good. Let them tell you their story – their individual connection to the work and to the workplace.

Ask good open-ended questions, and sure, some of them can be “softballs.” Let the employees hit it out of the park. If that’s who they are, let them paint a rosy picture, and brag on themselves a bit about how well they do their jobs, and how important what they’re doing is.

Some might go the other way, and dare to pipe up about things that have been festering for awhile. While it’s true that you don’t want to over-indulge outright griping, you do need information, including the negative kind.

Humility is good. Don’t be afraid to convey that you don’t know everything – your employees already know that, but it helps to hear it from you. If it’s possible, thank them specifically for some tidbit you’ve managed to learn from them, and tell them you’ll be back for more.

With so much being done via phone and email, it may seem like everything is digital or “virtual” these days but, as a manager, it’s really good to know your physical domain. It’s “yours” in the best sense of that word – yours to protect, yours to be proud of, yours to make better.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment