What NOT to do when you first become a manager

On Sunday evening, a good friend of mine received the following message from his new manager who had been in the role for less than a week:
All,
For those that did not join the hook up Friday you must join it on Monday at 11:00am even if you are on RDO we need to discuss this urgently.
Please note the time change due to another appointment at 8:30am.
Regards,
A
My friend was on leave on Friday and was also on leave for the Monday, the same day as the second ‘hook up’.

The issue that the manager urgently wanted to discuss related to a safety matter. No doubt it is important that all staff, including my friend, are made aware of the issues that relate to the safety matter, and you won’t find me arguing with you about the importance of safety.

However, given the importance of the issue, and the manager knew that other staff were on their Rostered Day Off (RDO), and my friend was on leave, don’t you think it would make sense to provide many opportunities for staff to be brought up to speed about the issue when they returned to work?

Unfortunately, by creating only two opportunities for this message to be heard, the manager has sent the following message to his direct reports:

  1. Even though I’m saying that this safety matter is urgent, it really isn’t. What I’m really doing is making sure that my manager has seen that I have taken some action to make sure that my staff are aware of the issue.
  2. I do not respect your time. I have the right to send you messages when you are not at work and I expect you to read, respond and take whatever actions I have asked you to take, even though you aren’t at work.
  3. I believe that you put the company’s needs ahead of your own personal needs which is why you will be happy to give up your leave, at short notice, to attend any calls that I arrange.

What level of engagement do you think my friend has with his new manager? Do you think this experience has made it higher or lower? How happy do you think my friend was to have this message arrive while he was at another friend’s birthday celebration and then find himself diverting his attention to decide what he’ll do the following day when he’s on leave? “Should I attend the call or not?“, became his dilemma.

I discovered that his new manager was at least 50 years old, but as far as my friend was aware, had never led a team prior to his recent appointment.

In all honesty, he ought to know better. People know when they are being respected, and they know when they are being disrespected.

If you are a new manager, do everything you can to make sure that you respect your team members. Not doing so will disengage your staff and make your job all the more difficult. Why would anyone want to do that?

Gary Ryan helps talented professionals, their teams and organisations to move Beyond Being Good®.

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