A third of companies polled in September by Career Builder were planning to hire for high-level jobs during the next six months.
Lucky enough to be selected for one of those plum positions? You’re likely to have your work cut out for you, either filling the shoes of a beloved predecessor or following a mandate to whip things into shape.
Time to rally the troops — that is, the army of supervisors, middle managers, and assistants who report to you.
“Create a team that respects you, and they’ll be more likely to work hard for you and produce better results,” says Orlando Ashford, managing partner at HR consulting firm Mercer. And that can translate into more money in your pocket.
Use these strategies to earn your underlings’ allegiance:
Get to know them, really
Your new employees may be anxious about what the change in leadership will mean for them, says Ashford. Dispel fear by showing humanity.
During your first week, find out from upper management and HR as much as you can about the workers you’ve inherited.
Once you’ve settled in, set up one-on-onemeetings, noting to each staffer the positives you’ve heard about him or her. Ask employees about their roles, their goals, and what skills they have that aren’t being utilized.
“They’re more likely to give you their best if they think you have their interests at heart,” says Albany, Calif., executive coach Simma Lieberman.
Make change seem less scary
No doubt you’ll want to do certain things your own way. Inform people of those changes in advance, stating what will be expected and by when, says New York City career coach Alexandra Duran.
Make clear what support will be available — say, training on new software — and how the shift will benefit them.
“You’re more likely to sell the change if you link it to people’s own interests,” says Christopher Metzler, dean of human resources studies at Georgetown University.
Let them run free(ish)
Micromanaging is an easy trap to fall into when overseeing people you don’t know, but it won’t win you any fans.
So how do you balance the need for quality control with your staff’s desire for autonomy?
Define the ultimate goal and deadline of each task, then set mini-deadlines for steps along the way, Metzler suggests. Regular check-ins will allow you to ensure that progress is being made without hovering.
Critique without being critical
Genuine praise can motivate a team to work harder, says Ashford. Focus positive feedback on behaviors you want to see more of, and make it proportionate to the impressiveness of the results.
When an employee’s work isn’t up to par, take him aside and explain what he did wrong. Lay out the consequences — say, losing a client — so he understands the importance of improving.
As he works to produce better results, offer guidance. “A manager who handles mistakes with patience will get more out of his or her staff the long run,” says Metzler.