Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Advice to a New Lead

I had been intending to do this post for a while, but it seems most useful right about now; I have an employee who is going to have some employees reporting to him soon.

Here are my thoughts on being a new manager/supervisor/lead:

1) Your job is to make other people's jobs' easier. They will help you, yes, sometimes, but for the most part, you're there for them rather than the other way around. A good team can rely on each other, and as the head of any team--even if it's just two people--you need to be devoted to your teammates to get success.

2) This is different than what you've probably been doing before. You have been talking to people to find out what they need (not just what they want) in order to get your Individual Contributor job done. Now you're going to be talking to someone to find out what they want and what they think they want, so you can help them in the direction they feel they need to go. It's hard for people to know themselves, and a large part of our job is to get to know people, at least in very specific ways, better than they might know themselves.

3) Always ask about them first. When you talk to them, find out what's going on in their lives; family, musical tastes, love of coffee, whatever. I've mentioned it in my blog before, but small talk is the natural bonding agent for teams. People like to be remembered. People like to be important. Help them feel that way.

4) Don't apologize too much. I do this a lot. I'm not going to apologize for that (see, I'm making progress).

5) If you screw up, own up. An apology is in order with your screw ups, but you are neither a better nor worse person than your report. Be human. They like that.

6) Be consistent. They like that even more.

7) Thank them when they deserve it.

8) Punish in private, praise in public.

9) Talk to them even when you don't need anything. Share a little about yourself so they can feel you care what they think of you. Oh, and care what they think of you.

10) Updates, updates, updates. You won't always have the answer they need. They will still want to know you're working for them; even if you're update is "I'm still working on it, I haven't forgotten you, we'll get through this," that is better than silence. Remember that.

For those of you following this blog for some time now, I'm sure these "tips" sound familiar. I really do believe in them. I also plan to tell my report, when I talk to him next, that I believe in him, too.

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