Most first-time managers are charged with getting specific tasks accomplished. As a result, they need to focus their energies on how to convert their actions and attitudes from “individual player” to “effective coach and supervisor.” The secret for success is to focus on the critical 3 Ws.
What. You have to explain every task succinctly and clearly. Then, get your people to play it back to you to insure they understand exactly what has to be done. If it’s a group task you have to lay out who does what and how the pieces and parts come together. Carefully discuss the sequence of actions and point out the dependencies and contingencies. Be sure your team understands each person’s role and how the pieces come together to form a cohesive whole.
Draw the project out step by step. Don’t assume everyone gets it, because someone won’t. Try to leave hardly any room for interpretation since there’s always someone willing to shirk or skimp. Keep everyone informed of timelines and progress to date.
When. You will never succeed as a manager if you can’t meet deadlines and budgets. Finding ways to get more done in less time is a big part of your job. This means understanding your team’s abilities and handing off assignments to the individuals best suited to handle them. It also means you must know your people well enough to know which kind of motivation works for each person. Some people strive with a deadline. Others freak out. You must know who reacts each way and parse out the work to suit them.
You also need to know and to explain why the timing is what it is. If it’s a rush, your people have the right to know why. If it’s complicated, your people need to know all the nuances. If there are serious consequences for good or bad, your team has to know what they are. If the reason is bogus, it’s your job to push back. You must manage your resources, keep them informed, find ways to motivate them, and keep them as happy as you can.
Why. A vital component of team happiness is knowledge and context. Nobody wants to feel out of the loop or like a robot. It’s your job as supervisor to cue the team about what they are doing, where it fits into the bigger picture, why it matters, and how it contributes to the overall company mission. Most people come to work and want to feel like what they do maters. Nobody wants to be on a losing team.
Everybody craves information and context. It’s your job to create this information, even if you work in close-lipped or dysfunctional firm. Most people work to help their teammates and to please their boss. Be the kind of boss that engenders good will and affection by letting your people know what you know.
Being a front-line, first-time manager is about transforming yourself and relating one-on-one to your team. What, When, and Why are the fundamental building blocks of those relationships.
Danny Flamberg, EVP Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis based in New York, has been building brands and building businesses for more than 30 years.Prior to joining Publicis, he led a successful global consulting group called Booster Rocket, as Managing Partner. Before becoming a consultant, he was Vice President of Global Marketing at SAP, SVP and Managing Director at Digitas in New York and Europe and President of Relationship Marketing at Amiratti Puris Lintas and Lowe Worldwide.
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