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When You Are the New Boss

Congratulations! You've just been promoted into a new managerial job. As the new boss it is vital that you get the lay of the land and establish yourself as the new boss. While always a critical process, this is even more important if you are an internal promotion who is now managing the same folks who yesterday were your peers. Yes, we are talking office politics here, but it is also essential leadership on your part. So keep these tips in mind:

  1. Establish some clear boundaries with your former peers. If, for example, you all used to go out together after work, that needs to stop. Your status has changed from friend to boss so you need to keep your socializing to a minimum. As sure as you are reading these words, the day will come when you have to take disciplinary action with one of these former peers (now your staff and direct reports), perhaps even fire one of them, and if you have a strong personal relationship it will only make a hard job exponentially harder.

  2. Be aware of who you are, how you tend to behave, and how you come across to people. Do not assume that everyone is just like you because they aren't. Not everyone is motivated by the same things you are, nor does everyone respond to a challenge in the same fashion that you do. Ask others you respect to describe how you behave most of the time. You can also use assessment tools to assist in this process such as DISC or Myers-Briggs.

  3. Make time to meet with each direct report individually. Even if you know what they do, ask them to tell you about their job, what they are working on, what issues and challenges they are facing, and how you can help them be successful. This openness to their viewpoint and the obvious time you are investing to listening to them is a vital first step in creating trust, a commodity you will need in abundance if you are to lead effectively. And really listendon't argue or debatelisten.

  4. Start building coalitions around work that needs to be done, whether within your department or scope of authority, or across the organization. The fact of the matter is that as you move up the leadership ranks you spend less and less time doing the technical things that contributed to getting you promoted in the first place. If you are now a nurse manager, you will be doing less nursing and more managing. And getting that nursing care done will mean you will have to interact with and coordinate care with other departments not under your control (pharmacy, the OR, the ER, Materials Management, etc.). The same is true if you are in sales or finance or marketing orwhatever your area of expertise is. The challenge of leadership is getting work done with and through other people because you can't do it all yourself.

  5. Look for some early wins that will let your staff know that you are not only willing to take action, but will address issues that will make their life easier. Early wins are most often low hanging fruit that is easily picked. These decisions don't take extensive analysis nor do they often require navigating company politics or securing large amount of money. But you must be looking for these opportunities. In the meantime, you are getting to know your new staff and your new responsibilities, while at the same time learning what big challenges await you that will require more of your time and attention before making any decisions about them

  6. If you discover that you are deficient in specific skills or knowledge you need to effectively perform in your new job, get the help you need to fill this deficit starting today. Do not wait.

In the next edition of The Coach's Corner, we will speak to a number of traps that new bosses can fall into so be on the lookout for it!




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