Managing Others? You Need to Declare Yourself

Adjusting to any new role is a challenge.

There are a myriad of elements that must be mastered; core tasks, a new organizational culture and team commitments. Organizations may be well versed in helping newcomers complete on-boarding basics such as needed documentation, work spaces and technology. Yet, there are untapped opportunities, instrumental in helping this transition become the first steps toward a healthy, productive employee journey.

The bottom of the learning curve that newcomers face is often a steep one — characterized by a brisk influx of both information and people-focused demands. (I’ve heard the experience described as “drinking from the fire hose.”) Existing research focusing on newcomers, can offer managers clues as to what hey can do to support the process. Overall, these actions should serve to establish core stability, a confluence of elements that help a contributor become engaged and hopefully, successful.

However, we miss key opportunities to help newcomers find their way — and managers can actively contribute to building this needed sense of stability early on.

While we inundate newcomers with information about projects, budgets and goals — we under-represent information about ourselves. As a manager, providing essential information concerning who you are as a manager can be overlooked, leaving employees mired with questions. How do I connect with my manager? What is their work style? What do they value in the workplace? Sharing who you are as a manager — what you value, how you work best, what you are looking for performance-wise in the context of their role, even your career backstory — can put a newcomer at ease.

So declare yourself.

Share what you can share comfortably.

Fill in the blanks.

Here lies the rub: Managers are not encouraged to reflect on their own “management brand“. This may occur because: 1) we undervalue its contribution to healthy work relationships and 2) we are somewhat uncomfortable sharing it. However, as managers, there is an expectation to lay a solid foundation.

Team members shouldn’t be left to guess.

I will go one step further to say that (as a goal) this information should be shared long before the newcomer’s first day. This may allow talent (and managers) to assess whether there is real fit and an opportunity to form a healthy psychological contract.

However, to be honest — I’ll settle for this discussion on any given Monday.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever felt left in the dark concerning how to connect with your manager?

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. Her program: The Core for Managers — focuses on the importance of building core stability to a strong team. A charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program since 2012 — her thoughts on work life have appeared in various outlets including Talent Zoo, Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.

Marla Gottschalk

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