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6 Best Practices For New Managers

Whether you’re fresh out of your company’s MIT program or you’re a seasoned manager tasked with turning around an underperforming unit, these best practices will set you and your team up for success.

It has been my experience when being assigned a new store, and by new, I mean new to me, the store will have a number of “opportunities.” Usually there are service recovery opportunities, issues that have gone unattended with guests and with the team that I’ve inherited. Other opportunities include, ringing items incorrectly in the POS, making trades with employees from other businesses, sitting down when there are no guests in the store (ugh!) If the store was lacking leadership prior to your arrival, all kinds of shenanigans could have been going on.
It’s important to step back, and observe, before you step up in your new position. This simple checklist will help you create a solid foundation for executing your company’s vision and setting everyone up for success.

  1. Keep an open mind towards your existing team
    Taking over a new unit is always a challenge. Most of the time as managers we are inheriting someone else’s mess. It’s normal to want to start from scratch with a brand new team. I learned the hard way not to write anyone off. They are the survivors of the shipwreck if you will. Treat them with respect and dignity. Approach them with an open mind and curiosity and you will gain their trust. They are still on your team for a reason. Especially if the store you inherited is a mess. They are survivors and whether or not they choose to stay on or you choose to part ways, they are deserving of your respect.
  2. Build trust and rapport by having consistent one on one meetings with each member of your team.
    From the very first day you arrive, start One-on-One meetings immediately. Your first meeting with each member should be focused on them. Hold back your need to share your agenda with them, or desire to tell them all about you. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to share your perspective in the future. Right now your task is to make them comfortable and ask them about themselves. Find out what drives them, what they’re interested in. Get to know them. Practice active listening. As the manager you have the floor pretty much all the time. Giving your employees a chance to share their perspective will benefit both of you.
  3. Model the behavior you want to see: The manager needs to be as close to above reproach as possible. This doesn’t mean you’re not human. But you need to hold yourself to the same standard that you hold everyone else. Be on time. Communicate absences or lateness in real time. Respect your employee’s time as much as you expect them to respect yours, (which is always). If your company has a uniform or dress code, be the poster child for it. If you are working in the front of the house and a guest enters, be the first to acknowledge their presence. One of my favorite techniques for getting my team members to greet guests quickly is to turn it into a game.” Let’s see how many times you can greet the guest before I do.” Approach this game in good fun and make sure to acknowledge the winners. Pro Tip: allow your team members to be the winners. Usually after suggesting this game, my team members get right on it . The manager doesn’t have to be the best, but they have to make sure their team members are.
  4. Treat your employees like your customers: Your customer’s experience will never be more than your employees experience. Strive to serve your employees with the same grace and enthusiasm as you do your guests. The rules of excellent customer service apply to your employee manager relationships. Greet them enthusiastically, thank them for their business (which is working with you) Never treat your employees like a commodity. Like your customers, if they do not feel welcomed or appreciated they can go elsewhere and usually will.
  5. Hold your team accountable : Consistent one on one meetings or check-ins, means you are always communicating with each person on your team. So having a private conversation with them should be the norm and not the exception. If they are having a problem being punctual, following dress code, or performing their duties, have a conversation. Ask questions, look for the root causes and come up with solutions. Sometimes we have to document policy violations, but we should exercise all other solutions first. Your employees are working for the same reasons you are. They aren’t starting their days with the intention of getting into trouble at work. Most folks want to do a good job. There is almost always a solution to any situation. By holding your team accountable and giving them the benefit of the doubt you will gain their trust. In turn, they will support you in executing company initiatives.
  6. Over communicate : Utilize the 3 learning styles: Visual, Audio and Kinesthetic, people learn by reading, listening or by doing. Many of us learn using a combination of all three. You’ve got to cover all the basics. Post a centrally located communications board to for schedules, updates, notices, feedback and accolades. Have frequent dialogues, one on one, and in a group. Make every moment a teachable moment. Work alongside your team while they perform tasks and offer feedback when appropriate.

This is by no means a definitive list. There are so many other things that great managers do when working with a new team. How about you? What are your tried and true methods when taking over a new unit? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

Written by

Bettina Stahl is a freelance writer specializing in employee management, training and entrepreneurship.

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