When a new manager comes into a firm, one thing is for certain: the new manager has been brought in to solve one or more major problems. At minimum, this will be the problem of maintaining momentum; but, more probable, the new manager is there to significantly improve performance well beyond current levels and obtain improved results.
The normal response of the typical employee in this situation is to wait and see what the new manager does, and what follows. This wait and see behavior is typical of a spectator, who can only react to the actions of the new manager.
But, what if one does not want to be a spectator? What if one wants to affect change, the direction change takes, and be party to identifying and planning the changes the new manager will pursue? What if one wants more control over one’s future in this context?
How does one act, rather than react? How does one get involved from the start, to affect that control?
The Context of Change
When we remember that the role of the new manager is to accomplish predetermined objectives through others, and we also remember that we (the employees) are the others, then we have the context from which to affect control of our future.
As the party implementing changes, we are best positioned to advise the new manager how best to implement change in our specific environment. (Remember, the manager is new to the environment; we know it well.)
For example, if the new manager wants to accomplish these objectives:
“…to promote excellence, problem solving, people above programs, etc.”
We can best affect our future by recommending to the new manager how to do this in our environment.
One proactive approach to affecting the direction of change, is to deliver a one-page list of recommendations to the new manager, containing your recommendations how to implement the new manager’s objectives. This should be high-level, not a detailed procedure.
Format the list based on the problems to be resolved in the context of the new managers objectives – solutions you believe you can deliver, and that will add value to the firm.
Focus of the recommendations on process, not personalities; results, not positions/jobs.
Categorized the recommendations to accomplish the new manager’s objectives to within:
- People processes – how can we improve people processes.
- Method improvements – policy, standard, procedures; and technical processes. (I.e., change management, requirements management, SDLC, etc.)
- Metric improvements – information to be collected, milestones to observe, indicators of results and progress.
Offer to be the skunk-works (or prototype) of one or more of your recommendations, within your role and responsibilities and operational purview.
Review this list of recommendations with the new manager, and be prepared to discuss options, alternatives, and how these might be implemented.
Because management is the accomplishment of predetermined objectives through others, new managers must look to those within the organization to implement changes to accomplish those objectives.
This affords an opportunity to those within the organization, to get involved in determining the direction of change, rather than reacting to it. This requires a proactive approach to the coming changes, beginning with proactively proposing how to implement change.