New job! I've never been the boss before.

I have accepted my first real manager job!!! I know I can handle it, but I’m terrified to meet my new employees. It’s not so much being the boss, it’s establishing the relationships and authority that I’m nervous about. I currently have a “leader” job to which I was promoted, but 1. I am not officially the boss, and 2. I know these people. In the new job I will be brand-new to the company but my employees are established mid-career people. I know that at least one of them expected to be promoted, but instead I’m coming in.
Normally, I have high expectations but am much too nice and eager to please. Must find balance between being liked, making everyone happy, and succeeding as a professional and a department.
Oh crap oh crap oh crap. :eek: What do I do first? Is this less of a problem than I am making it out to be?


Have they installed the “Management” chip in your head yet?


I’m confused; you’re the boss but you’re not really the boss? Can we get some clarification on that? What exactly is your authority over these people?

Those questions aside, as PIC (person-in-charge) your first responsibility is to the job; you may be friendly with your employees, but these people are not your friends. IME ideally, non-critical encouragement is the best approach, but if have to be a dick about it to get the job done, so be it, the point being, being liked should never be a priority.

I hope we did not make a mistake in hiring you.

Successful managers are not worried about establishing relationships and authority, they simply do it like a boss. It’s all attitude.

Now, get to it or we’ll replace you with someone better-looking who can.

What to do first? Observe. Listen. Question. Unless it is a major issue with potentially serious ramifications, don’t change anything for the first week or two. Meet with your employees individually and as a group. Get to know the corporate culture and what makes them tick as individuals and as a team. This is a great opportunity to find out what they like and dislike about the job, their coworkers and the company.

This is also the time to introduce yourself, your management style and your expectations. Depending on the tasks your team handle, this can be as simple as “I expect everyone to be on time, honest in your dealings with clients/coworkers and share all developments - good or bad - with me as soon as possible. In return you can expect the same of me.” Add detail to fit the particular job(s). The longer you wait to set expectations, the more difficult it will be.

Chances are your employees know their job and things will keep running while you acclimate to them and the new company. After all, their responsibility is to handle the day-to-day activities. Your job as a manager is to give them the tools needed to do the job and look ahead to position your department to successfully address things that are coming down the pike over the next 3-12 months.

And remember - as a manager you are no longer judged on what you achieve, you are judged on what your team achieves. Simply put, their job is to make you look good. Your job is to make them look good.

At the moment, I’m kind of a lead person. I do all the progress tracking, training, and project leadership for my group, but someone else is the boss. While it makes me crazy that they come in late and whine all day, it’s not officially my problem. The new job will be for another company, starting in a few weeks.

zombie alert :o

I’ve been searching for threads last night and this morning that might fit my situation, and this is the most surreal one in that I could have written the OP word-for-word. I’ve verified that of the four great replies, three of them (including the OP) are still active posters. Nothing here seems to be “time-sensitive” in that it only applies to world-events going on in 12/2012, so instead of starting a whole new thread, I thought I’d defibrillate this one for one more go’round.

Any new advice that any of you can add over and above Doctor Jackson’s great advice? I’m moving into my first supervisory position in two weeks at a new company, coming in from my present “individual contributor” role - albeit one where I’m the go-to guy when it comes to training new hires, answering questions from the junior-staff, etc. But none of these people directly report to me.

The ONLY exception between me and tenacious j-then is that the two people I’ll be supervising aren’t yet qualified to be promoted to the role I’ll be taking on (they’re both very “green”, right out of school). At least that’s what I was told when I asked the question during the interview.

Everything else in the quote-box, I could have typed myself:

Establishing the relationships and authority is what I’m nervous about? Check.
Much too nice and eager to please? Check.
Must find a balance between being “liked” and succeeding as a professional and a department? Check.

And tenacious j if you happen to stumble back across this thread, I think it would be fascinating if you were able to paint a “six-years-later” picture, and tell us how it went for you. Did your situation not end up being nearly as worrisome as you built it up to be? Are you still at the same company (perhaps even been promoted over and above your initial role there)?

I’ve got some, but in this case it doesn’t seem to apply…

Meet you… actually, scratch that. First, get some decaf. Second, meet your people. I’ve been the person who everybody expected would be promoted; the guy who got hired instead was capable, but he had never worked under ISO 9000 so they sent him to a course which took place on Wednesdays, soooo he never met his subordinate who worked weekends+Wednesdays in over three months! She’s one of the nicest people I’ve worked with, but after four weeks even she was mad at him. She had offered to come in another day, he’d refused; all he had to make sure to meet her was show up for fifteen minutes any weekend day a few minutes before the 6pm shift change, but no.

Make sure you meet everybody.

I can add some unusual things from a couple of managers I’ve had:

  1. Don’t try to wield your authority like a weapon or staff of office. Carry it like it’s a normal part of life. Former new manager who after being promoted kept prefixing all of her comments with “well, as a manager…” She said that so often it drove us bonkers and made her look very insecure. You don’t need to say it all the time if you simply live it.

  2. Be confident with your authority (or fake it until you make it). My current manager had no management experience and she’s openly admitted that she hates making decisions like who to hire. I wasn’t able to say this out loud, but I was thinking if you can’t choose who to hire, you’re going to have a mental breakdown when the time comes to fire someone.

To simplify Jcwoman’s first point, if you have to tell people your the one in charge you’re not doing it right.

The need to please should be directed towards your boss, through the direct results of your work, as a team.

Direction should be given in the most direct manner possible(without being a dick about it) to avoid misinterpretation or ambiguity.

At my last Real Job (before teaching), we used to call ourselves Player-Coaches. Equals with everyone else, but someone has to strategize and see the big picture. And do more paperwork… which is why I voluntarily never advanced beyond Department Head.

Before I started, I watched Andy Griffith and the Waltons and Leave It To Beaver, to see how “TV Dads” handled themselves. Don’t laugh, when I had to wade into a sticky situation, I really would think “Okay, Ward Cleaver. You got this, you’ll keep your cool… Let’s see what Beaver and Lumpy and Eddie Haskell have gotten up to now…”