General Question

asmonet's avatar

How can I best prepare myself for a possible promotion, and what advice do you have for someone new to management?

Asked by asmonet (21335points) April 7th, 2010

I have recently been offered the chance to possibly take over a supervisor/assistant manager position in my department. While nothing is set in stone I was told I am the clear front runner. I am in competition with one other employee who if his attitude and interpersonal skills improve could beat me for the job, so while I’m ahead I don’t want to get complacent and risk my future on something that isn’t a sure thing. It’s a tight race and it’s important that I really show my worth and how best I could contribute to my team in the coming weeks.

I have never managed anything to the degree this promotion would require and so I am trying to improve as fast as possible and get the best handle on how I should go about doing some homework. I am also looking for some insight as to how any of you who have been in a similar post have dealt with situations that may arise, things to look out for, limits I should set for myself, and any advice you have in general.

If you have any book suggestions, general advice you think would apply to most situations I would appreciate your advice but I would also ask you read further for a better understanding of the department.

My department is part of a larger company that works as an Authorized Dealer for a national cell phone company. My department is at it’s most simplified a customer service/sales hybrid. We generally contact customers who have visited our stores and align their cell phones plans and features to fit their usage, eliminate overages, and retain them as customers in the long term. Our sales come from the features we ring out while reducing the customers overall cost.

With our individual gross profit (GP) we play motivational games for the whole week like golf, battle ship, poker, blackjack, candy land, bowling golf, bowling, etc. We usually play them on an hourly basis, sometimes as idnividuals and sometimes on teams of two or three. If we make a sale during an hour long period we take one turn or when as a team we reach $100—$200GP we can spend the GP for a turn. This keeps us making sales every hour and raises the overall morale. We can also win play money for the games if we’re the person whose sale bumps us over our daily goal milestones. Sometimes other offers are on the table. We can earn a free lunch if we hit a certain amount of total GP for the day, we can win milkshakes from our boss if we make a certain amount by 1PM, etc. There are a ton of prizes to be had, but we still struggle for motivation sometimes. I think this is in part due to prize overload and just a case of diminishing returns.

Now, for the last several months we have been doing Team Lead days, and more recently weeks. I have consistently led the team to satisfactory or excellent numbers on a daily basis while others have struggled. But there is always room for improvement – particularly when a promotion could be on the horizon.

My question then is for ideas on how to motivate others, for insight into your own management experience and what you wish you could have been prepared for, or if you have any books that may be of particular use to me at this time. I have a handful more lead weeks in store for me and I’d really like to shine.

Also, I think it’s important to mention that this is a small group, we all work in a row of cubicles within feet of each other and it’s a very relaxed, friendly atmosphere. Our boss sits with us and we joke around throughout the day. We are all friends and have hung out after work on many occasions. So it may be particularly difficult to step into an authoritative role, as my boss and I discussed we both believe it’s better to manage by example, kindness, and firm expectations rather than punishment and fear. I don’t intend to micromanage, we’re all excellent at what we do and are generally happy but if I can push us as a group a bit further I’d be not only able to improve my salary but my happiness and pride in my work and my colleagues. Any help, insight, advice or suggestions whatsoever would be absolutely appreciated!

And sorry, I know this is long as hell. :)

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19 Answers

MorenoMelissa1's avatar

First off I would suggest you keep yourself as relaxed as possible then you can better deal with the stress, secondly give yourself a pat on the back, your hard work and dedication got you where you are now.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Take an online business management class. Even if you have a degree, the extra knowledge will never hurt and almost always helps.

augustlan's avatar

Fingers crossed for you!

Pandora's avatar

Be firm but fair with your employees. Some will try to take advantage of you being new, some will try to buddy up and it will make other workers upset. And remember whatever you do with one employee you have to do for all or the others will resent your favoring some. Reward great work.

bobloblaw's avatar

First, I’d say find something that works for you. That is to say, how you manage people should be dependent on your qualities and the qualities of those under you. Go relaxed if that works, go strict/organized if that works. Just find something that fits you and your team.

Second, be prepared to be the bad guy. This is a leadership position. You will inevitably make decisions that people don’t like. You’re going to have to be OK with making unpopular decisions. Which brings me to my next piece of advice.

Third, don’t allow people under you to get too familiar with you. You want to be friendly, but not too friendly. Make sure they always know that you are their boss. Of course, don’t make that point absurdly. Just, once in a while, do something that reinforces that fact. You don’t want them to get too friendly b/c then they may take certain decisions personally. On the other hand…

Fourth, never forget to throw them a bone once in a while. For example, have lunch w/the people you supervise from time to time. You don’t want them to get too familiar, but you also don’t want them to think you’re being aloof.

Fifth, hold people accountable for their actions. If they say they’re going to do something, hold them to it. If you give them an assignment, follow up with them to make sure they do it. That’s your job. Never be afraid to do your job.

Finally, if the people under you never disagree with you at any point during your time as a manager, then you’re not really doing your job. Colonel Tigh from BSG put it best: “If the crew doesn’t hate the XO, then he’s not doing his job.”

asmonet's avatar

Thank you all very much for your input, I appreciate it. A lot of these suggestions are things that I’ve thought hard on, and I appreciate the reinforcement of those ideas. Now, are there any suggestions on how to motivate them in the short term – before I get the job? Or again, any books or resources you’ve found helpful in your experience or heard were helpful?

jazmina88's avatar

examine your zipper. ask alot of questions.

jazmina88's avatar

also teach….how to upsell…...the bridges.

Cruiser's avatar

Learn to kiss ass and kick ass. A mangers job is a thankless job. Your staff will get all the credit and glory of your team leadership while your job is to simply keep them motivated and on task.

First thing is always look sharp…very important. Secondly know your own strengths and weaknesses and do the obvious there and know your teams strengths and weaknesses and manage your team based on those. Be prepared to dish out praise and be discreet with any and all critiques. Do them in private and keep focused on what you observe and desire in terms of better effort etc.

Your job could get lonely as managers don’t get the attention of sales personnel just push forward with the best effort you can give. One last thing be the first to arrive and greet your staff..say hi how are you etc. and be the last to leave and high five or atta boys as they leave. Don’t ask for breaks or time off unless needed until you earned your mgmt stripes!! GO get em’!!

Trillian's avatar

My eyes crossed in an attempt to read all that. If the other person is a rival and only needs to improve his CS skills and attitude, take a good hard look at him and what he does. Use that as your guide and for god’s sake, relax!

andrew's avatar

I doubly echo @Cruiser—first to arrive, last to leave. I can’t tell you how far that goes.

Keep your sales up. This is extremely important in sales-oriented promotions, even for managerial positions.

Keep positive.

Also, and I stress this: Tell your boss you really want the position (in private). Simply, straightforwardly, tell him or her that you want the position and you’d be great in it. That goes a long way.

thriftymaid's avatar

I didn’t read your essay. However, I will say I hope your company offers training for people new to supervisory positions. You will need to be aware of labor and discrimination law, as well as develop skills to be successful as a supervisor.

CodePinko's avatar

Communicate.

marinelife's avatar

Get used to the fact that once you become a supervisor you cannot remain friends in the same way with the other employees.

Be prepared for people issues to eat into your time. Managing staff will take a minimum of 40% of your time. Do work that requires concentration early in the Am or late after the others leave.

Different people have different learning styles. Try to observe and take that into account when you are training someone.

It takes 1,000 attaboys to erase one “You dummy”. Don’t put your staff down. Remember to give praise liberally.

When you are wrong, admit it freely.

Coloma's avatar

@marinelife

Excellent advice!

A good ‘leader’ manager, always shows appriciation, treats everyone as a peer and an equal regardless of job title, has the ability to personalize and capitalize on the individuals strengths and to appropriately designate tasks to those most likely to succeed with relative ease.

He/She makes it clear that it is about team effort and he/she is part of that team as well and welcomes feedback as such.

Yes…learning and communication style is huge and must be accounted for.

Good Luck!

casheroo's avatar

just wanted to say, yay good luck!

CodePinko's avatar

Oh yeah, gratz!

nope's avatar

Wow, there is so much advice up there. Some of it, I agree with. Here’s my take on things…

I’ve been a manager for many years. I’ve run the gamut on styles, although I’ve always been a nice guy. Most of my “mean” actions have been done because of managers over me who wanted things done a certain way, and let me tell you, although it’s given me great experience, what a mess that has caused me emotianally.

There is one main point that I love in the advice above. @bobloblaw says to find something that works for you. I couldn’t agree more, and it took years to figure that out. In the early days, I felt (mainly because I kept being told) that I knew nothing about management. So I listened to my managers, I “learned”...and I have done many things that I liked, and done a few things that I’m not proud of, and give me heartburn to this day. I probably destroyed the lives of at least two people, through urging from my manager, in an effort to please, and I will NEVER forget that.

So, I’ve learned over time that there are certain truths for ME, in management, and also certain truths for managers. Here’s where I disagree with @bobloblaw…for ME, get to know the people. Your employees will respond well if you have a GENUINE interest in them. And you should, they are your life blood, as a manager.

Let them have a work/life balance. Are they getting the work done? Great. Do they book flights for vacation using the corporate internet? GREAT! As long as they are doing their work, and doing it well. DON’T let them short you on hours. YOU are the boss. Once my employees in the last job got used to me, I would “catch” them doing stuff…and instead of being mean, strike up a conversation about it…“Hey! Where are you going? Oh, cool! Hey, finish that, but I could really use that report….when you’re done.”

Obviously, corporate standards & policy need to be adhered to, but find your balance with that. How is it comfortable for YOU to relate to these people who now report to you? And then, realize that you’re in charge, so on the things where you need to exert authority, do that. And if you handle it right, it won’t be a conflict, it will just be an encouragement to get something done when you need it.

Again, use YOUR personality. It’s the greatest strength any of us have as a manager…nobody can tell you who you are, you need to do that for yourself. Relate to people the way YOU are comfortable, remembering that YOU are in charge.

Get the job, then get some training…my personal recommendation if you haven’t been a manager, is delegation training. Personally, I always found delegation the hardest thing to do, especially if I was already good at one of my employee’s jobs.

Good luck!

mattbrowne's avatar

Don’t change as a human being. Keep in mind your managers are human beings and the people who report to you are human beings. All you have to do is change the parts of your behavior that does not yet fit your new role as a superior. The most important motto: be the change you want to see.

Learn to understand the difference between leadership and management:

Leadership is about change, management is about optimizing the status quo. As a superior during an average month it’s about 80% management and 20% leadership (in my experience). Don’t fall into the trap of doing 98% management all year long.

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