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Dear Workforce Why Is Our New Manager Struggling With Accountability?

September 7, 2011

Dear Obstacle Course:

Managers sometimes believe employees can read their minds. Of course, they can't. This happens on numerous occasions when we hand them projects to complete, neglecting to ask if they have questions or otherwise failing to provide clear directions on how the projects need to be accomplished.

The best managers are those who sit down with each employee during a move to a new department or when a person is added to the group. These meetings promote discussion by both sides on their communication styles. Do individuals prefer to receive information in writing or would they rather sit down and talk about the issues? Or do they prefer a combination?

Don't assume that team members learn the scope of their responsibilities by reading job descriptions and goals/expectations. Job descriptions typically cover only 30 percent of a job's responsibilities. But they typically lack detail and provide only generic terms of results and responsibilities.

These written goals and expectations were crafted by someone—perhaps the new manager—and presented to employees. This method allows no input from her staff, no chance to ask questions or seek clarity. Her employees are not encouraged to provide input or suggest ways to complete the task. It is a one-way communication style.

The solution? Have the manager establish weekly meetings with her staff. At that time, she should review the progress of the work. If it appears that the job is getting off-track, have her seek the input of an employee as to the reasons. Once she has heard the staff member, a new plan can be developed to get the assignment on target. Meeting regularly with her group enables the manager and the team to monitor the progress.

A number of projects may overlap. The leader should hold a group meeting. Members of her staff should be encouraged to raise questions, issues, concern or bottlenecks that need to be resolved. Giving them a voice makes it more likely that employees will buy into what the manager is trying to do.

After five to six months, the new leader and her staff should begin to understand each others' communication and work styles. It is at this juncture when the group becomes more of a team, committed to accomplishing goals on a timely schedule.

SOURCE: Paul G. Schneider, president, Schneider & Associates, Chicago

LEARN MORE: Supervisory jobs have very different requirements for success than individual contributors' jobs.

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The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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