A New Manager’s First Task

My wife and I have a handful of restaurants that we regularly enjoy, but there’s one in particular that we go to at least once a month. Over the years, we’ve gotten to know one of the servers very well and consider her a friend – we even socialize with her outside of the restaurant. We have always really liked this restaurant, partially because of the laid back nature of the place. You can tell it’s not just the clientele that enjoy being there – we know from our friend that it’s a great place to work.

Recently, the long-term manager of the restaurant left and a new external one was hired. When we went to the restaurant for dinner the first night after this change, we felt that the “vibe” just wasn’t the same. Staff seemed to be going through the motions, just doing their jobs, but the camaraderie among them was gone. The new manager was working that night, but he wasn’t engaging with staff much. There wasn’t the same lighthearted style of interaction between staff and management that we’d observed with the previous manager.

If you’re lucky enough to inherit a healthy workplace culture, please don’t change things your first week on the job.

Later in the week, when we shared our experience with our friend, she broke down and expressed her frustration with the situation. The new manager was making her work feel like just “a job”, she explained.  He was involved and worked hard, but he also micromanaged staff and expected things to be done “his way,” which included an end to the lighthearted atmosphere among staff.

It was clear to me that the manager had inherited a healthy workplace culture – one that was not only considered a great place to work, but also productive. Unfortunately, his demeanor and actions were affecting things negatively, both for the staff and me as a client.

Clearly it was lost on him that, as a new manager, your first task is simply to listen and get to know people. If you’re lucky enough to inherit a healthy workplace culture, please don’t change things your first week on the job. Take your time, get to know people, get to know the systems, and then, if change is needed, work together with staff to make them happen.

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Randy Grieser, Author, Speaker

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