Taking Charge When Taking Over
Where to begin when you are hired to be the boss??
By Marshall Brown, CPCC, President Marshall Brown & Associates. Published in Association TRENDS. Reprinted with permission. While this specifically is geared to a trade association executive, the issues are the same that need to be addressed when a manager at any level is hired to take over an existing team.
Q: I recently became the CEO of a mid-sized association and will be managing a staff of 30. I would like to develop and convey some clear expectations for the staff and give the directors some guidance on implementation. Any tips would be appreciated.
Brown: Too often, executives seem to lead through mental telepathy. Rather than set and communicate clear expectations – the milestones against which we test our progress – they assume their managers and employees know what to do and how to do it. What results is hesitation, indecision and uncertainty. Healthy teamwork, initiative and productivity go out the window.
Properly setting expectations for directors and employees/team members is a critical dimension in quality workplaces, according to a study of managers undertaken in the 1990s by the Gallup Organization. Below are some tips for both you and your directors on setting clear expectations that will set standards for excellence and results:
1. Start with a vision of what you want the end result to look like. Not just what you want done, but the results you want to achieve when the project is completed.
2. Discuss how you define “excellent performance.” Paint a complete picture. Refer to your performance review form. Don’t assume.
3. Focus on the desired outcome, not on describing each and every step. Your goal is to guide, not control. Letting individuals find their own route toward productive outcomes encourages them to use their strengths.
4. Tie the mission of the department to each job. People want to know that their role, whether large or small, makes a difference.
5. Put the expectations in writing.
6. Stay on the sideline. You may be tempted to step in and ‘play the game’ for a subordinate, but if you do, no one will learn.
7. Give feedback, and often! The annual performance review is too late to let staff members know how they are meeting your expectations. Schedule informal review time weekly (quarterly for larger departments). Feedback given along the way sounds more like coaching, not like punishment.
8. Ask for staff members’ feedback on how they think they are doing. Two-way communication clarifies expectations.
9. Give positive reinforcement. Don’t mix negative and positive. Mention the thing you like and you’ll get more of it. Be specific and prompt.
10. Don’t take it personally. When staff members don’t perform as you think they should have, look for solutions, not blame.
This article was originally published in the March 2011 edition of Marshall Brown & Associates’ It’s All About You! Ezine.
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