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So youre a newly minted manager and things arent going too well? The group doesnt seem to be working together and youre feeling isolated? Deadlines arent being met and you cant figure out why? And you say your unit has one of the worst collection of workers in the company?

Well, lets see if we can understand whats going on. First of all, were told that youre a person who is known for being unusually successful in executing individual projects. You have earned a reputation for speed, organization and accuracy – and thats probably why you were promoted to the managers job. But as it turns out, trying to get the same quantity and quality from subordinates has been quite different, and youre not sure what needs to be done to improve the situation.

As you know, we spent time last week circulating around and chatting with the people in your group, as well as some of your peers. They didnt know what we were there for, and most didnt seem to care anyway.

Many of the groups troubles are of long standing. Your predecessors were mediocre managers, and worker turnover has been a continuing problem. As a result, a mindset has been created which even a highly experienced and talented new manager would have trouble correcting. Poor work habits and low morale have become the norm rather than the exception, and your inexperience as a new manager hasnt helped. Despite all of this, we detect a desire among many of your subordinates to improve this units operation and regain some respect from the rest of the company.

Even though you have made errors in handling these people, we think they would respond to a new approach if they were convinced it would restore their reputation. Frankly, they had hoped you would come in and quickly turn things around. Instead, you have been over-cautious and tentative, holding everything so close to the vest that they didnt know what you were thinking or what you really wanted them to do.

A few preliminary suggestions:

Get your people engaged. Sit down and talk with them informally. Explain where youre coming from and where you hope the group will go;they are anxious to find out what you expect of them. Let them know that you need their help to improve the units performance. Encourage them to take ownership of the projects they are working on. Make it clear that you are concerned about their reputation.

Ask for frank feedback, even if it is critical of you or the company. Dont show displeasure at what youre hearing. Be wary of those who tell you only what they think you want to hear; learn to ignore them – their comments will never help. Make notes and take immediate corrective action to show that you are serious.

Find out what has caused high turnover and low morale in the past. Your peers and other workers can help you with this. It will surprise you to learn how much outside people know. Compare what you are hearing outside with what you are hearing inside, and then ask for reaction from your team. That should stimulate some interesting and candid discussion.

Okay, thats all for this visit. Well be back next month to see how youre doing and to give some more suggestions.

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