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Old 02-25-2006, 09:29 PM   #1
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Advice needed please for new manager

Hi all,

I'd appreciate your advice.

I have just got a new job as a Supervisor on London's busiest shopping street. I'm not sure how to cope and need help.

I'm doing 2 weeks training before I go live at the flagship store on March 6th, and have just finished my first week. The training store is much quieter than the one I will be in, but I'm struggling a little. I'm very aware that I need to learn as much as possible over the next few days, but the more I think about it, the more stressed I get.

My problem is that, although I've managed a (MUCH smaller) shop before, I find it hard to be assertive with the other staff members. In the past people have, not surprisingly, taken advantage of this, and I do not want it to happen again... I'm certain that my new team will do exactly the same if I let them. I need to change but don't know how to do it.

An example: yesterday I worked at my training store with sales assistants who have been in the company for years. I am obviously there to be taught the basics, but the fact remains that I'm a member of the management team. One of the part timers in particular is very bossy and seems to think that she gets the final word on everything. I need to assert myself as it is me who is meant to be setting tasks, but don't have the confidence to do it. If I carry on like this I will be hopeless at my store as staff will see me as a pushover. That would end in disaster.

How can I ensure that the flagship team respect me and listen to me? I've been considering having individual chats with everyone when I start, to get to know them and to lay down some ground rules but am not sure what to say.

I'm also worried about the more practical aspects. My merchandising is of a good standard, but I take far too long about it, spending too much time on little details rather than getting the whole thing done first. I know I need to stop that if I'm going to cope with the demands of the busier store. It's a habit I'm finding hard to break. Some team members have noticed this and I feel as though it makes me look incapable.

I'm not sure how best to organise tasks and make sure that everyone is doing them as they
should be. I will have to close the store, and during the last 2 hours of my shift will be in the office cashing up. The rest of the team will have to get the shop floor looking good while I'm away. If they don't respect me, they won't bother - so how do I make sure that standars are maintained?

HELP!
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Old 02-25-2006, 09:59 PM   #2
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Here's my advice:

Look at the example of bosses you've had in the past and present. They've clearly established their authority enough that you perceive yourself as a subordinate. And if your employees begrudge you after a while, then you're probably doing your job correctly. Bosses aren't there to be friends with the employees, necessarily, because if you turn into "one of the gang," then they cease to respect your authority.

I know it is hard, but you need the right mindset from the start. If you don't establish your authority from the start, it might be difficult to establish it later! Even if you have private doubts, don't "show it." You must appear as if you are in control like all the best bosses out there. That means reigning in the bossy part timer. You are the boss. You tell her what to do. If she doesn't listen to you or challenges your authority, sit her down and have a very stern, but tactful meeting. Make sure your tone of voice expresses a subtle tension / anger like you mean business, even if it is to just say, "Excuse me. Are you second guessing me?" Instilling some constructive fear into those employees is sometimes the best policy.

In short, just exude confidence, even if you think you don't have it. You just have to show it. The real thing will come eventually!

I actually write a lot of this from personal experience. About 3 years ago, I was the boss too afraid to establish my authority, and I ended up being too nice. Everyone ended up walking all over me, and, in hindsight, I started thinking about all the qualities of bosses around me and why I respected their authority. I'd do everything much differently, if I could do it over again.

Melon
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Old 02-25-2006, 10:19 PM   #3
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I am a little over six months at being the 2nd in command. My advice is to listen to Melon....He is probably the smartest person I know in here.

My second piece of advice is that you will make your mistakes. Learn from them. Do not repeat them. There are VERY few problems in this world that need fixing immediately. When you have one of those, you will know it, and react to it. The rest of the time, sit back, take it all in, observe, sleep on it, and make the best decision you can make.

When you make a mistake, own up to it quickly and apologize. Do not make the mistake a second time.

Finally, do not bring it home....leave it at work.
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Old 02-25-2006, 10:25 PM   #4
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Thanks very much to both of you - that sounds like a sensible plan. I know I need to be in control otherwise I'm not doing my job. I don't want to end up like that!

I don't know why I have such a problem with being assertive. In other ways, I know I'm a good manager - my former boss told me so, which to be honest gave me a surprise as I'm not the world's most practical person.

I would just do a Cartman and shriek "YOU WILL RESPECT MY AUTHORITAH!", but I'd look like a total moron.

Any other advice would be appreciated. Thanks again for the earlier responses.
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Old 02-26-2006, 12:10 AM   #5
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Learn who your best workers are and respect them. They'll be wary of you at first from experience with inadequate managers, but ultimately they'll be the ones to give you the feedback you need and make you look good. If you don't give them their due, you do so at your own risk. Let your staff know right from the front the only thing you reward is performance. Too many new managers pay attention to the ones who kiss up the most.
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Old 02-26-2006, 01:07 AM   #6
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First, congrats on the new job! Lots of solid advice here and I will chime in and try to be brief...coaching new managers and employee relations has been a large part of my job for years.

If there is a way you can debrief your team's previous manager to get the lay of the land so to speak, that would be enormously helpful in learning more about each of their work styles. Not only will you want to know who your best performers are, but also who leads the grapevine, who are respected most by the others and who are the usual opponents/barriers to change.

Your idea to meet with each of your staff one-on-one initially is a really good one. Don't worry to much about laying ground rules just yet, but maybe you'll want to give some thought to your management style. Just tell them you wanted to get aquainted briefly without distractions and want their input in how to make everyone successful. They know what works and doesn't work in their store and being asked what they think will go a long way to building respect.

Ask each of them what they consider to be the best and worst qualities of a manager. Ask them what drives them nuts (low hanging fruit can be a "quick fix" and give you an easy and early win) and what they like best about their jobs. Ask them what they think they do well (find the star merchaniser!), what achievements they are most proud of and what they'd like to improve. Let them ask you questions.

Keep the tone positive and enthusiasitc, don't let it turn into a gripe session for them. From these discussions you'll get a good idea of who your stars are and who will challenge you and how.

From there you can build a plan for organizing tasks etc that capitalizes on everyone's strengths and minimizes their attempts to push your boundaries.

OK well, so much for being brief lol. Feel free to throw specific situations at me, I'm going back to work soon after a long maternity leave and need the practice!
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Old 02-26-2006, 02:23 AM   #7
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don't think about things too closely, and 7ust go about things as you would if you were a regular employee.

or something.

i think, anyway.
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Old 02-26-2006, 12:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by AliEnvy
Your idea to meet with each of your staff one-on-one initially is a really good one. Don't worry to much about laying ground rules just yet, but maybe you'll want to give some thought to your management style. Just tell them you wanted to get aquainted briefly without distractions and want their input in how to make everyone successful. They know what works and doesn't work in their store and being asked what they think will go a long way to building respect.

Ask each of them what they consider to be the best and worst qualities of a manager. Ask them what drives them nuts (low hanging fruit can be a "quick fix" and give you an easy and early win) and what they like best about their jobs. Ask them what they think they do well (find the star merchaniser!), what achievements they are most proud of and what they'd like to improve. Let them ask you questions.
This is the first thing I do when I start a new role in a team leading new faces.

The hardest thing to do is to make a team 'follow' you instead of working against you. If you 'represent' their ideas (and a few of your own) then you'll get automatic buy-in and a good base to work from.
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Old 02-26-2006, 01:01 PM   #9
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I was the general manager of a medium-sized but very busy bookstore back in college and certainly found HR to be the toughest, most high-maintenance aspect of the job. Some strategies I remember being helpful are:

1) If not wanting to be the Bad Guy is a problem for you, it can be helpful to think of your position in terms of a *role* you have to perform that's ultimately in the best interests of everyone--one which may have very little to do with who you are as a person, but is required to keep things running smoothly and give your employees the sense of clarity and consistency they want and deserve. No one likes those lay-down-the-law moments, sure, but the day-to-day consequences of working under a manager who shrinks from that responsibility are far worse.

2) Don't micromanage--delegate! Besides slowing things down and distracting from focus on more urgent problems, micromanaging also sends the damaging message that you don't really trust your people to understand the goals of merchandising (or whatever task) and work out their own time management and operational strategies for addressing them. Almost always, the best efficiency strategies come about from managers listening to employees and putting into practice their feedback about what works and what doesn't.

3) First thing when you get to work every day, go around to all the people you're in charge of and ask How's it going, What are you working on, Any merch (or whatever) problems you've noticed we need to address, etc. Resist the temptation to plunge into your emails or reports or the like first. And after that, do your own quick walkthrough to see what tasks you should be directing your people to address that day, and get back with them right away about it.

4) Regular team meetings, even if informal and conducted on the salesfloor, are a great idea too (be sure to document what the main issues that came up were and do follow-up). Also maybe try regular merch walk-throughs to brainstorm together on what's working, what isn't, and how we can best divvy up the workload to make sure problems get addressed--that way, you empower them to take responsibility themselves.

5) Don't get too obsessed with the one or two employees who are always grumbling and dragging their feet. Have a talk or two with them if you've noticed they're measurably bringing down their own or others' performance (and be sure to document that), and for sure, immediately cut short any subversiveness they display in front of other employees by firmly reminding them that policy is policy and while you're open to constructive input, that doesn't change the fact that there's a job to do and requirements that limit the ways you can do it. Nevertheless, most employees know perfectly well who the unhelpful grumblers among them are, and hear their comments in light of that--so long as they feel the communication channels remain open and consistency is generally being provided.

6) If you're getting feedback that employees are getting conflicting directives from you and another manager, get with that manager (perhaps together with your GM) right away to hammer out the problem.

Good luck!
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Old 02-26-2006, 04:58 PM   #10
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Hi,

I too have been there and I'd suggest making sure that you make sure your team know that you are approachable, you are firm and fair with them. have confidence - you would not have been given the job if you were incapable, so believe in yourself. We all have faults and everyone makes mistakes when new. Go for it and the best of luck!
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Old 02-28-2006, 05:50 PM   #11
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Hi Katie, I thought I'd add some more, as your situation reminds me of my own experience.

First congratulations on your position. You should consider yourself at some advantage in that you have a realistic sense of your weaknesses and are taking a proactive stance to try to address them. Many managers are relatively unaware of the areas in which they need to improve so consider yourself ahead of many. At the same time, you are also right to try to start off in this new position in a away that does not replicate past mistakes. I would advise that you approach this position the way a first year teacher plans for the day ahead. Each evening take a few minutes to evaluate the day you have just experiences, anticipate the needs and demands of the day ahead, and come up with a plan for how to prioritize the work and delegate the work based on individual staff needs and abilities.
Literally write down a game plan for projects by the hour or shift.

I would hold a staff meeting before each shift, communicating your approach to management, and asking them to identify their interests and goals. To the extent possible, try to allocate responsibilities and assignments that relate to the staff members’ interest areas.

As for your own merchandising ability, I would encourage you to set a dedicate time limit for the completion of projects. Set an alarm on your watch if need be. Consider delegating these responsibilities to others with interest and talent in this area.

If you discipline yourself each night to plan the day ahead, you will teach yourself the foresight and perspective that effective managers rely on to stave off incidents and problems before they occur.
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