Tyrone Dugan was a newly hired assistant manager at fast-food franchise Qdoba Mexican Grill in Florissant, Missouri, when he confronted one of the challenges new managers face — a cold reception from some of his 10-member staff. Even though no one on his staff said anything to him directly, Dugan, 36, says he could tell that one person in particular had a problem with him. “Word got back to me that they were watching and critiquing my every move. They would tell my supervisors that I wasn’t doing something that needed to be done, that I wasn’t starting something on time, or how they would have done something differently to be more effective.”
Becoming a manager for the first time is a big career step. But managerial skills don’t automatically come with the title, and being good with people doesn’t mean you’ll be an effective leader. Most new managers are unprepared for their increased accountability and the new interpersonal relationships. According to Aya Fubara Eneli, career coach and author of Live Your Abundant Life (Xulon Press; $13.99), some 40% of first-time managers receive a bad review, voluntarily step down from their position, or get fired within the first 18 months on the job. But don’t let those statistics scare you. Read on for tips on how to establish your credibility, build relationships with your co-workers, and handle difficult people and situations.
A number of reactions to your new role may come from fellow employees, especially if you were promoted in the same company and yesterday’s peers are suddenly today’s subordinates. “Your reports may step up their performance so things will reflect well on you,” says Mary Stewart-Pellegrini, executive coach and co-author of Equity Checking: Managing Assumptions to Achieve Organizational Success (Stewart Management Group; $15.95). Dresdene Flynn-White, a career coach with Action International Business Coaching Team, says some of your staff may be cooperative for a different reason: “There may be those who are pleased with your promotion to manager because they believe they’ll receive special treatment based on the prior relationship.” Don’t fall for it, cautions Eneli: “Resist the attempts of others to manipulate you, compromise your performance standards, or otherwise bend the rules. Always do what’s best for the entire organization and your new management team.”
What do you do in the face of opposition from your team? You can’t engage members of the staff in a shouting match or ignore the dissention, hoping it will just go away. However difficult it may be, you must speak with your staff. Consider taking them away from the job site and going to a neutral environment where conversation is easier. But whether it’s behind closed office doors or at a local coffee house, a conversation must be had. Dugan knew this. “We worked together every day so I just started talking to them. I was positive and let them know that they could have the same opportunity I had if they were willing to work hard. Some became managers at other locations.”
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