Managing Others? You Need to Declare Yourself

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Adjusting to any new role is a challenge. There are countless 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.

5 thoughts on “Managing Others? You Need to Declare Yourself

  1. Dr. Marla Gottschalk, I must say I always had the challenge to figure out the optimum way to reach out to my manager. What I learned over time is that the managers are more interested to see how one reaches out to them rather then to actually declare themselves.
    I personally believe strongly in declaring myself foremost and upfront. Whenever I have had people working with me, I have tried to make sure that they are clear about the work at hand, what my expectations are from them and what the higher management’s expectations are from me and them; how their work will impact the overall effort and where we are heading with what we are doing; I have made it clear to them by what means and when they can contact me or approach me and what they can do if I am not reachable. Above all I have made sure I give them the confidence that it will only help them if they contact me because I want to work with them to make sure the work gets done in the optimum way. This is because it will result in success for all of us.
    I’m happy that you have brought up this topic because I consider it an absolute must for all managers.

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  2. When I work with management teams, I encourage them to understand their own management style, what they stand for — how they lead. Self-reflection is the first step in this process, and processing our own past experiences is integral to the that dynamic.

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  3. Sharing about who you are as a manager and how you manage is vital. Whether one is cognizant or not of their impact in a manager role – you are defining that elusive organizational culture in some way. In times past, the best managers I have worked for have shared how and why they operate like they do, the not so good experiences have been with those who tend to either be secretive about their identity, or simply are not stable in their identity.

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