Improving Your Team : Respecting Seniority

Improving Your Team : Respecting Seniority

Leaders often enter a new job situation with a specific idea of the direction they’d like to take and what they’d like to do with their human resources. However, a new leader can create problems by not recognizing the pecking order in an existing workplace and not listening to the voice of experience from employees who have been on the job for a long time.For example, Johny had been the director of marketing for a Fortune 500 company for a month. He had a reputation for producing maximum quality in the minimum amount of time at his last job. On his first day, John told his team the results he expected from the group and reassigned each team member to new tasks. Two employees who had been with the department for years told John that his “new” plan had already been tried by a previous boss and that a couple of the people in the group were terrible at the tasks he’d assigned.

Johny considered himself a good manager and an even better leader, so he thanked the two employees—whom he considered a bit out of line—for their input but told them he would stick to his original plan. By dismissing the advice of the senior employees, Johny made two enemies on his first day at work. Not only did he lose their initial support, but he lost the support of the rest of the staff, who respected the two senior employees. As a result, quality did not immediately begin to rise in the department. Johny recognized this and decided things would go more smoothly with the senior employees on his side. He was right. Once he listened to their advice again, he realized it was good advice and modified his plan a bit. Quality rose and people were happy.

Tip : Seniority doesn’t mean an employee has gray hair or has been with a company for 20 years. In today’s fast-paced business world, a senior employee could be a 28-year-old who has been with a company for four years. Make friends, not enemies, out of these employees. Often they can speak to the performance history of a department and act as a barometer of the staff’s morale.

Advertising Your Group

Often it is not enough that a unit or group within an organization turns in top performance or provides a key component of the organization’s success. If you don’t advertise your successes, they could blend into the background of day-to-day corporate work. Advertising your group not only benefits you, but it also benefits your employees and department as a whole. Senior managers are often not technically literate about the work that different departments in their organizations do. By advertising your group, a leader can make sure senior managers have some idea of the work that’s being done. In addition, if the senior management is aware of the contribution your department makes, it could help ensure that your department is not hit when the budget ax starts swinging.

Some ways to advertise your group include the following:

  • Share accomplishments.  
    When meeting with your superiors, be sure to mention a recent success your group has accomplished.
  • Share the spotlight.  
    Mention specific team members who contributed significantly to a success. Your superiors and your subordinates will value the fact that you are not just attributing the success to yourself.
  • Share success with superiors.  
    When acknowledging an individual or team’s work on a particular success via e-mail, send a copy of the message to your superiors.

Tip: Make a point of not advertising your group every time you meet with your superiors. You don’t want to give the impression that you are a braggart or insecure about your unit.