Q. I was recently appointed manager at work, in charge of a workforce of 11. Most of them have been acting frosty towards me but I don’t know how to show them that I am open, fair, and a good listener. How do I go about thawing this cold relationship?
Congratulations on your promotion, what a great way to start the year. I am pleased that you are thinking of ways to get your team to engage better, which is crucial for them to deliver their goals and affirm your appointment.
We are told experience is the best teacher, and for you to have made it this far, you have had bosses who for sure had different styles. Pick the right skills nurtured through such mentors and role models, amplify what you admired in them and downplay what you disliked. I will add a few tips to help you in this journey.
The first thing to consider doing is to meet them as a team, listen and reassure them, share your vision for the department and encourage them to reflect on how, together, you can achieve this vision. Listen to their ideas. Seek to know what they consider key challenges to this vision and what they can do collectively or individually to overcome and exceed your plans. Get them to share their expectations of you as their new leader.
It is important for you to know what holds them back, and as their leader, seek the right solutions. Teams usually do not work alone, they work alongside colleagues in other departments, and in situations where synergy is tested, your team’s motivation will be at risk. Be quick to fix any issues that you notice or that may be escalated to you swiftly. Employees respect managers who resolve issues and open doors for them to thrive.
Make them feel comfortable around you, from how you address them to how you trust them to deliver their goals. Do not be the controlling bossy type who hoovers around, micro-managing adults. Be sure each person has clear goals and knows how their success would be evaluated and rewarded. Also make a habit of acknowledging their success through regular feedback. Create forums for learning, sharing and team building and endeavor to use your teams’ time on value-adding tasks. Finally, do not excuse poor performance because your highly productive employees will notice, and if their efforts are not rewarded, they are likely to leave, or just lose motivation and become average. You can do this.