A Leader’s Reflection On Reality

Reality Bites

What is Reality? Who determines it? How can one get in tune with what others perceive as reality?

These are questions that should be looked at when one takes on the role of a leader. These questions are also important when a leader takes on a new role with a new team. If a leader is unaware of their environment, or of their personal disposition and tendencies, or of how others perceive them, then trouble could be right around the corner…

Reality Bites

A friend of mine accepted a new position requiring a major relocation and considerable cultural differences. After she had been working with her new team for a short time, she requested was a New Manager Assimilation with her and her staff to make sure that she was on the right track.

This fast-paced technique cuts down on relationship-building time from months to days.

The feedback obtained from the new manager assimilation taught her that perception is reality. Her cultural differences, lack of patience, and incorrect assumptions had shown through loud and clear.

The perceptions of her new followers were:

  • She didn’t listen
  • She didn’t communicate well
  • She is a micro-manager
  • Along with many other issues

The new manager assimilation process opened her eyes, giving insight to enable her to change her style and eliminate the potential for loss of productivity, employee turnover, and morale issues – all things which can affect a company’s bottom line.

Formula For Success

Main objectives and benefits of process:

  • Accelerates relationship building between manager and staff; shortens time to build effective staff. Both staff and manager learn each others’ personalities and quickly brings manager up to speed with his team.
  • Manager learns staff perceptions; staff makes candid observations and questions the perceptions of the new manager, feedback is generally brutally honest with “no holds barred” while maintaining complete confidentiality of input and remarks. Allows manager to quickly adjust leadership style or engages staff on rationale needed for change, while demonstrating manager’s willingness to listen to the concerns of her organization.
  • Information is gained in non-threatening manner; facilitator uses brainstorming technique to solicit input and questions on possibly delicate topics, without manager present, while providing input for manager on key issues needing to be addressed.
  • Provides forum for manager to discuss philosophies, expectations, and leadership style; new manager is able to seek input and give rationale relative to his philosophies, expectations, and leadership style.
  • Team provides input into developing 100-day action plan; manager assesses input from team and utilizes recommendations to help develop team’s short-term goals and objectives.

“It’s the best way to iron out rumors, to confront the issues that arise with a new manager, and to create a climate of openness,” Bill Hunt, program manager, organization and staffing, GE Power Systems

How the process works. . .

  • New manager and trained facilitator meet to review process, objectives, and benefits while seeking buy-in for the process by the new manager.
  • Manager kicks off session reviewing his/her commitment to the process, the confidentiality of the staff’s candid feedback, and manager’s desire for straight forward feedback.
  • Manager leaves and facilitator seeks input on what staff knows and would like to know about their new manager, what they would like the manager to know about them, what issues/concerns/problems are facing the group and what should new manager accomplish in the first 100-days?
  • While staff takes a break, manager and facilitator review responses and feedback.
  • Staff is invited back and manager responds to feedback, questions, and concerns.
  • Flip chart feedback is keyed and given to manager to continue process with staff to develop formal 100-day plan

Fresh Eyes and Ears

Fresh EyesManagers may use responses on flip-charts as planning tools displaying them in their offices to reaffirm their commitment to the process and the team.

My friend had her eyes opened after receiving the feed-back from her new staff.  She learned culture can play a major factor in developing a team. Once she started listening and communicating more thoroughly, her team became more cohesive and much more productive.

She was thankful for the new manager assimilation process.

Do you currently have a new manager assimilation process in your organization? Have you seen a new manager fail in the first 100-days of being on the job? Are staff members afraid to “bare their soles” to a new manager in fear of retribution? Do your new managers “hit the ground running” when assuming a new leadership role?

Mark Fryer is owner of Mark Fryer and Associates
Helps clients with Succession Planning, Exec Coaching, & Org Development
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog | 706.718.2349

Image Sources: img.wallpaperstock.net, cmcguire.com


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3 responses to “A Leader’s Reflection On Reality

  1. Hi Mark…

    I enjoyed your posting and thought the new manager assimilation was interesting. I would like to ask though, do you think the process might undermine a leader’s ability to lead, if they are held accountable to what the group/staff might think?


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