A Little Advice For New Managers: It’s About Handling the Gray Areas

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Congratulations — you’ve been promoted!

You now have a new title that includes the word “manager.” Or, maybe you’re fancy and have a Director or VP title. It’s gratifying that your hard work is being recognized so you can fast-track the climb up the proverbial corporate ladder.

Regardless of your title, when you step into a role with the responsibility of managing others, your job now splits into TWO jobs.

You have your own position’s deadlines and accountabilities, and, you’re now responsible for supporting a team. Supporting a team means mentoring, assisting, disciplining and basically being a work-parent to folks who will be looking to you for guidance.

Yes, every person is different

Everyone who works for you is different and by different, I don’t necessarily mean their jobs — I mean as humans. That means they’ll work differently, communicate in their own style, have different stresses and have overall needs. Just like you.

The first time you have an employee issue, provided it’s not an illegal one, please don’t run for the employee handbook. I also don’t recommend going to your HR professional unless you’re sure they’re the anti policy-police type of individual. It’s embarrassing to the profession, but I’ve met my share of HR folks who aren’t capable of creative thinking and expect employees to behave like little corporate soldiers regardless of how their lives are going outside of the office.

Every single employee issue is unique and issues should be treated that way too. Take the time to listen to your team member, and instead of seeing the solution as either black or white ask yourself:

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“How can we reach a mutually beneficial solution and how would I want to be treated if I was the one in this situation?”

Problem solving: It’s rarely black and white

It’s not always a fast process and it may not be the easiest path but the payoff will teach you empathy, creative thinking and problem solving. Facing problems and working towards solutions related to humans are never black or white. It’s okay to get in the gray. In fact, get comfortable with the gray so that it comes naturally, as a part of your work style.

I’m not saying to embrace slackers. I’m not encouraging you jump through hoops when a situation turns into abuse. I’m saying that being able to jump into the gray areas and treat each situation as unique as it is without applying a canned solution will provide you with long-term rewards.

You’re a real problem solver. You’ll be an excellent leader. You’ll be remembered. You’ll have loyalty.

This was originally published on Kimberly Roden’s Unconventional HR blog.

Kimberly Roden is the founder of Unconventional HR. An HR pro turned consultant, she has 25 years of progressive experience as a strategic HR and business leader in a variety of industries. Her hands-on and innovative approach allows her to create and deliver HR solutions to meet business challenges and needs by managing human capital, talent acquisition and technology. Connect with her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Kimberly_Roden , or at kim@unconventionalhr.com .