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Good morning.  I have just started a new job (~1 month ago) and have taken over a team of 18 individuals.  These are broken up into two subgroups with individual managers.  I have began one on ones with the individual managers as of week 2.  My plan was to meet bi-weekly with the remaining 16 individuals for three months in order to get to know all the skips down (or down skips??).  After that, I'd shift the one on ones to my sub-managers. 

 

Does this sound like a reasonable plan?  As this is my first role with this large a group and sub-managers, I'm very open to feedback and any possible tips anyone can provide.

 

All the best,

Neil

mark_odell's picture

Transitioning from managing a team directly to managing team leaders who managed the team was something I struggled with for a long time.  I think the biggest mistake I made was subconsciously to try and manage everyone myself.  This resulted in the team leaders not actually being managers in anything other than title and me just being ineffectively busy.

So, my suggestion is that you should be investing the majority of your time in building relationships with your managers as well as delegating to and coaching them.  You don't need a relationship with everyone in the same way as with those that do report to you, the higher up you go, the more impossible this becomes anyway.  

Sure, talk to them, find out about what makes them tick, join them at lunch time, be nice and so on.  Just no need to have a one-on-one based relationship, it's not sustainable and cuts out your team leaders.

 

This way will be harder work in the short run, you have to come to terms with losing the immediacy of asking for something and it actually happening.  Also training the managers is going to take a long time.  In the long run though, company hierarchy exists because it is more efficient than trying to manage large numbers directly.

Good luck

--

Chief Executive, Connect Support Services Ltd. - London based cloud & traditional IT services for SMEs
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pjean's picture

I know your question is slightly different as you're just starting this role with the large group. I also don't have any experience with your situation. I just wanted to add the link to the podcast that talks about skip levels in general:

http://www.manager-tools.com/2006/04/skip-levels

I think Mark's suggestion above seems to be similar to the advice in the podcast.

Hope this helps.

-Phil

dan west's picture

My personal experience has been that skip-level meetings make your job harder. Instead of going to their direct manager for issues, items begin going to your desk. Also, this undercuts your managers.

If the goal is to get to know the entire group, there are a few methods I've employed in the past:

- Meet the boss lunch/drinks - Spring for drinks or the first round of drinks and invite the team. 

- Quarterly team meetings - Walk through organizational objectives and introduce yourself. Allow time for Q&A.

- Infrastructure improvement meetings - I have each of my teams present improvements (either through engineering work or process changes) to me. The goal is to highlight all of the work the teams have been doing above and beyond their "day jobs". People involved with these projects are typically the rising stars of the team. My more experienced managers let the stars present their own achievements. These have proven to be huge wins for me. I get to know the key contributors within the team, they get some good facetime with me and their boss and I establish relationships with the key people in the group.

All of the above work well. It's just a matter of preference. I personally use all three and space them about a month apart.

-Dan