I have been listening to your podcast since I got my iPOD about 6 months ago. I have found it to be a fountain of practical information. I think you guys are great and I really do thank you for offering this information free of charge.

I have been an engineer in a engineering support organization for 5 years. I have now been promoted to manage the services side of the engineering group with the promise that I was next in line for my manager's position as head of the organization when he retires in two years. My manager will now be transitioning to a more individual contributer role while maintaining limited managerial responibilities in preparation for his retirement. It really is what I have wanted for all these years and I am quite happy about it....YEAY ME!

I am formulating a transition plan. My new team (fromerly, my coworkers) get the news in July. I have MANY things that I want to change. I have been working in this group for a long time and feel that I really know what our problems are and how to fix them.

Some of these changes involve processes that my boss established. I am also going to try to repair the intrapersonal damage that my boss has done to our team. While he has always respected me and treated me well, he has not been a great manager to the rest of my soon to be team. What's worse is that he has never really built relationships with our internal customers, in fact, they barely talk to him and prefer to deal with me. I have listened to many lunchtime bitch sessions about my boss from everyone who deals with him. Fortunatly, I choose not to participate in them. I just find it distastefull and unprofessional.

I am now in a position to repair the damage done. He is still and will be my manager for two more years. I need to do this transition without upsetting him. Do I do it without his involvement? Do I tell him flat out that this is my plan? I guess that what I am really asking is how to transition this mess with dignity for both my team and my boss? I realize that this is going to require finesse. I don't want to mess this up. Your advice would really help.

ctomasi's picture

Here's what I did (and am still doing). Step 1, get the team together and tell them your vision. The sooner you do that, the sooner they will get buy in. I wouldn't invite your old boss. It's not his team any more. It's yours. Your responsibility, your authority.

Step 2, When (not if) your former boss wants to talk, as I'm sure the grapevine works in your company, listen first. If he has concerns, address them directly and professionally. This is YOUR team - did I already say that?

Step 3, once your boss is out of the picture, refrain from stating his name directly or his older plans (unless it has a positive spin.) Say things like "This is the new way we're going to do things" rather than "Bob did it this way, and I think I can make it better". Once in a while I bring up my predecessor's name when it reflects kindly ("Bob was very good at GTD and got us all up on that methodology"). For the most part, he's gone and has no further impact so why mention it?

3 steps... sounds like I've been listening to Mr. H a bit too much.

DavidB's picture

I would also recommend reading The First 90 Days (as listed in the recommended book list). This book has a number of excellent strategies for transitions.

Some key points:

1. Meet with all your new directs 1 on 1 before you have the team meeting to go over a scripted set of questions.

2. Use the team meeting to demonstrate you listened to them by using feedback from those questions.

3. Quickly establish credibility. Find the low hanging fruit and get it.

4. As said before, get buy in for your vision.

5. Dont change too much too soon. Narrowly focus your change.

There is more, but this is what stands out.


AManagerTool's picture

I want to thank you for all the great replies. I am creating a vision presentation as we speak. I'll keep it general with the following small things that are definitly low hanging fruit. Some of these are:

1. Weekly one on ones!
2. Daily standup meetings!
3. Quarterly performance reviews!
4. Feedback!
5. Coaching!

These were some of the things that my boss never did. Most people got their review mid year and at the end with no feedback all year long. I figure the rest of my ideas should come much more gradually.

Should I present it at the intitial meeting or a subsequent one with just my team? The first meeting will be my manager and his manager together presenting me as the teams new supervisor. I figure that presenting that I will be actually [b]managing[/b] the group in front of their old boss might not go over

Mark's picture
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I love it when other people do all the work! Chuck and David, GREAT POSTS! When I read them, I almost called Mike and said, "we need a great post helping a fellow member award."

Okay, now to the post.

1. Please "promise" me you will completely discount the promise that was made to you. If I read it correctly, you're in line for another promotion in a couple of years, and you think you've been promised it.

You have NOT.

You have been, as we used to say in collegiate volleyball, "dangled." A carrot has been dangled in front of you. All that has happened is that if you don't mess up too much, your name will be in the mix when the position is opened.


Please believe me.

2. Chuck's point about it being your team is beautiful. (Chuck, keep teaching your wife).

What this means is GET OVER any "damage" your boss did. You are not there to correct his work, but rather to do your own. Forget he was ever there....otherwise, you'll slip and say, "Bob used to do this, and I didn't like it, so I'm changing it." That sounds like reactionary government.

And another reason for the above.. holy MOLY he's your boss! Mum's the word on him with your team. Someone may say, "But Bob..." And your best response is, "Thanks, and this is the way we're doing it now. I'm happy to hear input about better ways."

3. Welcome to "they". You're part of the total idiots who are running the company now. Those bitch sessions are going to be about YOU. Are you telling me that you sat in them but didn't participate? Not so.

[i]Qui tacet consentire videtur [/i]- He who is silent is thought to give consent.

Nevertheless, don't try to do anything about them, no matter how distasteful they are to you and I both. It's inevitable. Power is hated in free societies.

And dear God don't ever utter a negative about your boss, nor tolerate those who do. Period.

4. Don't tell your boss anything. Just start doing. Chuck is right on here.

5. David's #5 is HUGE. SMALL STEPS. One thing at a time. One on ones for 2 months before widespread feedback. NOT KIDDING.

6. The first three rules of any new job?
a. Fit In.
b. Fit In
c. Fit In.

You may think your relationships are the same, but they ARE NOT. You must fit in all over again as the boss. It will be fine, I'm sure... but take your time and build the bridges.

7. Something I tell all newish managers: you don't have to have all the answers, and you CERTAINLY don't have to have all the answers right now. If someone comes to you and wants an answer to something, write it down if you have to, and then say, thanks, I'll get back to you. And then THINK ABOUT IT, decide, and communicate.

8. Vision's good, but needn't one right now. If you have one, don't spend one more second on the slides for it. If you must share a vision, share, "priority one is for us to become a tighter team, and that means a lot of communication about what you think and what I think. After that, I'll want to collaborate with you on where we're going (don't worry, the best 80% of your plan will get into the final design... hey, you're the boss now.)

9. Congratulations. Welcome to "They".


AManagerTool's picture

I just want you all to know how much I appreciate your advice. It really is great to have you in my corner.

DavidB's picture

If I remember one of the earlier pod casts, this is where I say:

I hope that someday you can return the favor. :)


Mark's picture
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I would not start my briefing of the team, in terms of "how you're going to manage" in that first meeting, particularly with your boss there.

That first meeting should be full of platitudes. "I'm excited. I feel lucky to be given the opportunity. Easy to look like a good coach if you have good players. I will do my best to earn this."

And, don't announce all this stuff anyway. About the only thing you need to announce is one on ones... and those become a huge communication venue to bring up new efforts you will be making at management. And the way to do that is easy with email... though you certainly could do that in a team meeting.


AManagerTool's picture

Just to let you all know. That first meeting happened early. I just sat there while my boss and his did all the talking. As you advised Mark, I just stated that I was very lucky to have the opportunity and that I plan to live up to my team's expectations. What was really great was the next day of O3's with my new team. I'll post about those in the O3 section when I get a chance. I guess I can keep you guys in the loop for my first 90 days. It might prove interesting for you and me.

ctomasi's picture

Technically, I'm still in my first 90 days. Unofficially I'm finishing up my third quarter. I'd love to compare notes with you here federka.

Performance review season is coming to an end and FY07 plans are taking form (to start Oct 1). It's getting exciting now. Like you, glad to have Mark and Mike in my corner.

Mark's picture
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Sounds great. Would love to hear of all of your experiences.

Chuck, I come to Milwaukee every month. Would love to drive up and sit down and chat one of these trips.


cwcollin's picture

Regarding not upsetting your boss, by your description it seems like they DID NOT invest alot of time in some of the initiatives that you want to take on....hence your view of the deficiencies in that area.

If that assumption is correct then I doubt they will be put off by your changes since to them it wasn't very important to them anyway.

However, what you will need to do is get their approval for it being an important way to spend YOUR time.

npatrick's picture

I feel like you can track my career path by listening to Mike & Mark's podcasts -

Late last year I worked on developing my team with O3s, coaching, etc.

Early this year I started networking, to help prepare for the future.

In May, I determined that it was time to leave, so started looking for a new job.

Recently, I found one (thousands of miles away from home), and so had to prepare for my resignation.

Every step of the way has been made MUCH easier thanks to you guys.

Now I am starting at a new company - what do I do? Where's the podcast for that? :D

My boss actually sent me the "90 Days" book to help prepare me, which was great.

Any other resources that people recommend, especially when starting at a NEW organization?



Peter.westley's picture
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The new organisation one is tricky - I'm two weeks into that process and it's hard work. BUT, one thing I'm doing is putting lots of energy into [i]not [/i]getting flustered about not knowing everything from day one. Especially things like acronyms (a terrible disease in my opinion) and company processes. [b]Relax [/b]and ask lots of questions, ask the same question of different people (you might be surprised!) - and I find it helps get things into my head more quickly.

Good luck and let us know your findings!

jdotzler's picture


This morning I accepted my first managerial position! I couldn't be more excited! My responsibilities will be to manage a team of 8 sales people in my companies largest potential market. The office has experienced less than spectacular growth, so there is a lot of work ahead.

I must give a lot of credit to all the great things I have learned from MT and all the forum participants. In the past six months, I have gained invaluable knowledge that helped me to secure the position and will be a guide for my future success as a manager

Thanks again to everyone and I will rely on your help over the next several months and years!


jdotzler's picture


Earlier in this string you recommended "The First 90 Days" which is on the Recommended Book list. It must have been displaced on the list but I found it on Amazon, I think. Are you recommending the Michael Watkins book?



regas14's picture
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Congratulations and Good Luck! I'll be interested to hear of your successes and lessons learned along the way.


mauzenne's picture
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Congrats! You've got some exciting times ahead of you.

I'm looking forward to hearing about your experiences. Keep us updated!

best regards,

dweyland's picture
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Not sure if you've seen this, but there is a "The First 100 Days" podcast in iTunes under "BusinessWeek - Climbing the Ladder." The cast made me anxious for my next new job. Probably very similar content to the book, but in a convenient podcast format.