So they fired your boss’s boss, then your boss quit yesterday. In light of this, the leadership has decided to promote you even though you’ve been with the organization for three months. The only problem? You have no leadership experience. You’ve never hired or fired anyone before in your life.
Relax. We’re gonna help you.
First, understand that they’ve selected you because someone thinks you can step up to the plate. These are the opportunities that turn into CEO opportunities.
Understand leaders are not born into it. They are forged over time. Now is your time.
You may one day give a speech about the time they threw you into this role, talking about how you made it work. Tell yourself as if this will be the case, but then tell no-one else.
Meanwhile, follow these critical steps to fool everyone that you know what you are doing right now.
Review Your Bench
Who is working for you? Are they bench warming when they should be starting?
Don’t assume you know these people, even if you know them on a first-name basis. You want to know as much as you can about them, without prying into their private lives.
Plan to meet with each of them. Consider these meetings preparation for the interviews you are going to conduct with candidates as soon as you’re ready.
Your goal is to let them speak as much as possible. You accomplish this through asking open ended questions, those that start with words like when, how, what, and tell me about… If you can, get them to talk about their frustrations with work.
Promise nothing. Tell them you are still learning the scope of your responsibilities, but that you appreciate their candor. Consider that some of them may have just been your peers.
They may have some reservations about you taking control. You can flex the tone of the meeting, depending on the person.
Don’t take a formal tone with someone you just left in the trenches. That’s a fast lane to losing their trust forever.
Consider Your Pipeline
Not just who, but how are thy coming in? Find out if you are sitting on any applications.
You may have walked into a scenario where the departing leader dropped the ball mid-interview process. Take the time to call, apologize, then offer to meet with that person if it seems worth it.
If not, let that candidate know you’ll circle back with them when you need them later. Don’t feel you have to interview that person of they raise red flags.
Look too at from where these applications are coming. Are they through an online portal? Did they come in or were they from a job fair? They may just be folks trolling for any kind of work.
This would be a good time to partner with your human resources representative.
Plan A Simple Hiring Platform
This plan you will hone forever. For the time being, however, you need to identify the one to three places from which you will draw your candidates.
The list of resources is endless. If you chase them all, you will not necessarily get more. Keep your life simple, Pick one resource, run after it until you find it’s worthless, then find another.
If it turns out to be a well of talent, then stay there as long as possible. You can only ever focus on one resource anyway. That’s why it’s called focus.
This doesn’t mean you should ignore your peripherals. Those are your plans B and C. You’ll spend time with them later.
Train Like It Was Your Job
Because, um, it is your job. You were the one for this opportunity so you are the best one to train people.
This doesn’t mean you have to facilitate every aspect of the training process. You can oversee training, but stay involved, even if you have a departmental leadership team below you.
Every minute you spend training people the right way today is a day you will get back later. Trying to retrain people after they’ve received disciplinary action or some such feedback is inefficient. Nobody will enjoy that.
Instead, spend the time now. The closer you get to your team, the closer you get them to you and the business, the more they will trust you.
Again, partner with your human resources department on this. If you don’t have an HR department, then roll up your sleeves. You need to outline a training process.
If you are designing the training, this would be a good time to meet with your team to design that plan. Gather small committees to fill in the gaps.
Never Disregard People’s Dignity
This is the most important advice you will ever get for managing people. You can say many things to people. In fact, you will.
If you’re good at this leadership thing, you’ll have more tough conversations than you ever could have imagined. You may even learn to enjoy the art of communication, even if you don’t like the toughness of it.
There is a challenge to overcome with communication, like a puzzle to solve. Throughout those conversations, what can never go down is the disregard of another’s dignity.
The moment you cross that line, you lose. Even if you’re talking to an employee who’s a total jerk, you lose. Word will get out how you talk to people.
Other than lying, which is a just another form of disrespect, nothing will corrode your reputation faster than disregard for another’s dignity.
This means you never speak down to people. When the subject is tense, you drop any pretense, sarcasm or passive aggression. You can be direct, but you need to ask permission first.
It’s impossible in this article to cover every situation but think of it this way: recipients don’t have to like what you say but give them no chance to dislike the way you say it.
You are going to make mistakes. Stick to these guidelines and the rest you learn to apologize for.
Leaders are okay with being wrong. In fact, they always accept fault when things go wrong. If you’re good at this, you’ll get very good at apologizing with sincerity.
When you’re good, people allow you to make mistakes. They’ll believe you are the person who will fix it going forward. They run through walls for you.