The move from a lowly cubicle to a boss’s desk is a short, victory stroll for most – but an all-expenses-paid power trip for that rare and loathsome brute that mutates into a monster just as quickly as the title changes.
Every career leap comes with a risk, and if you’ve elevated to a higher office, career counsellors note you’re likely sandwiched between executives demanding insta-results – More sales! Faster turnaround! Prettier PowerPoints! – and overworked underlings with apprehension swimming in their eyes.
The secret to rendering that transition as miserable as possible for every unfortunate involved is to let the stress bring forth your inner Bonaparte.
“People come in there with this false façade that you’re running things now, but you’re not automatically going to have respect,” warns Surviving Dreaded Conversations author. Donna Flagg. “You have to earn it by the virtues of your behaviour and by how you treat people.”
She says the surest way to garner the esteem and cooperation of your workforce is “to be really open.”
“In the first 90 days, what you really want to do is listen,” Barbara Frankel concurs. “People are often afraid to voice their ideas, like they don’t want to stick their necks out. You need to set a climate where every idea is valued and important, even if it isn’t acted upon.”
But if every time you fish the office pool for fresh ideas, you reel in empty hooks, “Put a little structure behind it,” Flagg recommends.
“Schedule on-boarding meetings where you give a half hour to every person and get a sense from them about what’s going on,” she suggests. “You have to say, ‘I want your honest opinion,’ and then you have to behave in a way that doesn’t punish them for giving it to you.”
Too often, Frankel notes, a newly minted manager feels pressure to be the “ideas boss,” the bubbling fountain wherein all novel thoughts are birthed.
“That closes you off to a lot of opportunities,” Flagg cautions. Plus, she adds, it turns your workers into minions, brainlessly motioning through their day.
Instead, just take some time to field contributions from the corporate floor.
“The biggest mistake new bosses make is enacting change too quickly,” Frankel emphasizes. “They come in wanting to prove themselves, they’ve heard there’s certain priorities that need to be addressed, and they go about doing it without getting a lay of the land.”