Dear J.T. & Dale: I recently accepted a new position and then discovered I would be managing a team that all have more experience than me. One person in particular applied for the position, and I was selected over him. Any tips to ensure a successful transition? — Kai
J.T.: I think I would go to the management team and inquire as to why they chose you for this job over some of the people on the team who had more experience. It’s important for you to understand what you bring to the table. Next, you want to set the expectation with your team that you don’t think that you have all the answers and that you really want to be able to leverage each other’s strengths. The key is for them to understand that your role is to help them feel as successful as possible. And that you want to get to know each of them so you can better support them in their careers. Over time, they will see exactly why you were brought in, and as you play up to those traits, you will earn their respect.
DALE: Good advice. And I’d implement that advice by meeting privately with each member of the team. As you do, you’re wise to worry about resentments; however, your new employees also understand that they need to impress you — after all, they have to wonder if you were brought in to “clean house” and if you’ll be replacing them. You’ll have employees who may be angry and looking for new jobs, and those same employees might be nervous and worried about job security. Meeting with each one will demonstrate that you value them, although you’ll need to do it right. That means asking for their thoughts on how the team is doing, and what its strengths are. (I wouldn’t ask about weaknesses or what they’d change. Why not? Because if you don’t take those suggestions, they’ll feel just the opposite of how you want them to feel — listened to.) Also, be sure to talk to them about their goals and about what skills they would like to learn. Let them know that you’re interested in what you can do for them. Be sure they leave that meeting knowing that you want the team to excel by everyone getting better at what they do, including you.
Dear J.T. & Dale: After a six-month process (yes, really!), I finally got the offer! It’s awesome. But here’s the thing: I have a two-week trip planned for next month, and I’d like to be able to start this new role after I return. I currently work for a nonprofit, and thanks to the pandemic, the past two years have been insane, and I am burnt out beyond all burnout. I need a chunk of time off to reset.
Any suggestions on how I lay this out without going into too much justification? I am thinking of suggesting a start date that works with my giving notice at my current employer and then the time off, so six weeks out. — Madison
J.T.: I would tell them upfront you have this trip planned and that you hoped you could delay your start date. Keep it simple. I’m sure they’ll understand!
DALE: Then again, they might really need the help and are likely to already be dealing with staff’s summer vacations. So, go into the conversation prepared to be flexible. No reasonable employer (that is, no employer you’d want to go work for) is going to object to giving your current employer two-weeks’ notice. But, when it comes to telling them about the vacation, do not mention burnout or insane workloads. Sure, you have a right to your exhaustion, but if you go with that as an explanation, a new employer will have to wonder if you’re not just burnt out but worn out. Or maybe they’ll wonder if you’re someone who is easily stressed or overly dramatic. Don’t plant those seeds. Just ask, and let’s hope J.T. is right about their being understanding. She usually is.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site www.workitdaily.com. Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab and author of a novel about H.R., “The Weary Optimist.” Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. (c) 2022 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.