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New Manager, New Department
New Manager, New Department

We’re going to look at the challenges when managers are assigned to new or different locations, departments or divisions inside your company, what’s good about it, and how to approach making changes.

If you’re reassigned as a manager to a different department, location or division, you might want to show results very rapidly when you take over. You might approach situations in an aggressive and assertive manner and try to make changes quicker than you should. I’ve listened to enough front line leaders to know that one of their main complaints is a new manager with their “new ideas”. New managers are often unaware that their new ideas have been done many times before and haven’t been successful.

Just because it’s been done before and failed, doesn’t mean it’s not worth reconsidering. As the new manager, ask people what’s been tried, how it was done and the outcome, and then use that information to guide you.

Companies tend to rotate managers around to give them different levels of experience. That makes sense.

If you’re a manager, you probably want to accelerate your career path with as many various experiences as possible. I would point out that some of the most productive and safest companies, that also have the best cultures, are often led by a manager who’s been in place for longer than the typical manager tenure. I’ve seen some general managers in the same location for 8, 10, 12, and 15 years and that provides stability and consistency.

How can managers be the most effective in their new department?

Managers need to balance their need for career progression and quick results with understanding the need for enduring stewardship. Click To Tweet

Stewardship means that you’re managing a department, but somebody else is going to take it over in the future. Your job is to improve and maintain your department so that the next person can maintain the level of performance and possibly take it to another level.

Time shouldn’t be wasted on things that have been tried before and failed. I once asked a group of front line supervisors, “Are you okay when you have to break in a new manager who doesn’t know much about the department?” They replied, “Yes. As long as that manager has a learning mindset and is open to asking people for input.”

If you’re a manager taking over a new department, ask the people what’s been tried, and what can be tried.

Take the time to observe and ask questions, and even share potential projects listening for resistance and support. There will always be frustrations when the front line leaders and workers get a new boss or new manager. You can mitigate those problems and extract maximum value by taking the time to get to know the people, the department, and its history. Then, when you have new initiatives that are going to define your career in that particular department, you’ll more likely have success that will be impactful and have some longevity.

For those of you who have switched departments, how did you make the transition as smooth as possible? Let me know in the comments.

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