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Advice for a 1st time manager

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Advice for a 1st time manager

Postby Abby » Thu Jul 14, 2016 5:30 pm

One of my career goals has been to start supervising technicians. My company is great about giving people opportunity to stretch their careers, so I'm probably being given an employee to supervise.

Question 1- any great books, websites, etc to look into for first time managers?

Question 2- because life is never simple, there is a possibility that I might not be on the same scientific project as my report, so I will mostly be responsible for traditional HR duties, time off, training reports, etc. Any advice for a peculiar situation?
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Re: Advice for a 1st time manager

Postby D.X. » Mon Jul 18, 2016 2:50 am

Hi Abby,

Seeing no other Responses, I'll chime in.

1. I don't know really, you can see if you can find a book on Basic People Management but I'm sure the over-arching concepts are the same, it will basically come down to what Kind of Boss do you want to be. If this is part of your HR mandated individual development plan (IDP), then I recommend you talk to your Boss and HR department on this type of Training. Either you Company may have an internal leadership "academy" or they should have a list of courses that aim to help new People managers in your Situation learn the Basics of People Management. I personally recommend this as your first step.

2. Whereas you'll be Response for the admistrative aspects of your direct Report, do not underestimate the time and responsiblity behind this. This is why you were given this opportunity. As first you will understand that you will be dealing with a "human" resourse, who will have personal situations that will Need handling with sensitivity. You will be accoutable to ensuring that Person is developing per thier Needs irrespective of if a Project they are on are with another Project owner.

Regarding the issue of the Person being on another scientific Project (probably by another Project owner), you ARE responsible for ensuring the aspect of your FTEs scope of work is delivered. This means you Need to understand that Project for the objectives it will deliver against, Tasks, and risks for delvery. It does not mean you Need to ba activated or directly involved (that's your FTE) but you should ensure you are sufficently informed. Why? Because YOU are the route of escalation! If there is a Problem on the Team your FTE is allocated to and that Problem is linked to an objective of your FTE, then you are the direct line Supervisor for escalation. In These cases, then you become activated are involved.

I would recommend that you ensure that theother Project is added to your HR defined MBOs (your objectives) formally. The Details of the Project don't have to be in there (tactics) but talk to your line Manager, you should have accoutablity for delivery of that Project and then align you FTE's MBOs to yours (i.e. understand the scope of the Project and what YOUR contribution is. That way then you are clear on what is expected and politicaly....protected (i.e. you are mandated Party to the Project via your FTE) and your word in the Event of an escalation will hold a "voting" power. Now the risk is that if that Project is not delivered, or delayed, then YOU are dinged, but hey well come to Management and leadership!! Welcome to Team-work, where we are all accoutable for each others successes...and failures, that's where the courage Comes in right?

Let me know if you have any more questions - i'm a new Manager as well (just under a year), with the Exception that I have 1 direct line Report and 8 dotted line reports from many different functions outsid emy area of Expertise, i.e. drug supply, technical production, regulatory affairs, finance, business operations (sales), medical affairs, etc, some of those 8 dotted are +2 in title, a % of their MBO's (pretty high percent actually) are to me, to ensure that their individual objectives are aligned and prioritized with the Teams objectives - if the Teams succeeds we all win, if it Fails..well, put it this way, a % of our pay increase and Bonus will take a negative hit.


Good luck! I would go into the Details but OMG. A wonderful learning experience that is exciting 20% of the time..and burdensome 80% of the time (politics politics politics).

DX

EDIT: Also note by putting the other scientific Project into YOUR HR objectives you also have a Point of negotiation for resource allocation should you and your FTE be put in a bind. I would also think your Boss should have something in his/her objectives too. In the absense of resoruce allocation then you can have a meaninful and documented reason why the objective was not met both for you and your FTE what woulld result in a penalization against objective.
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Re: Advice for a 1st time manager

Postby Dave Jensen » Mon Jul 18, 2016 11:23 am

Sorry Abby, I kind of missed this original post until DX picked it up. If you don't get immediate responses on something that is a legitimate question as this is, just bump it up with a "Hey team I need your help!" or something . . .

I have this old classic in my library, and I have referred to it dozens of times both in my work life and in writing about managing. You should try and get a copy. It's out of print, but there are many copies available on Amazon from other sellers, in "used" condition for just a couple of bucks. It's a good book, by Albert Shapiro, called "Managing Professional People: Understanding Creative Performance." While it's not written for managing scientists specifically, it IS written about the same kind of staff. There's a lot in common with a creative employee and a scientific employee. They are the same kinds of people.

https://www.amazon.com/Managing-Professional-People-Understanding-Preformance/dp/0029288703?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Dave
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Re: Advice for a 1st time manager

Postby Renee L. » Mon Jul 18, 2016 7:48 pm

Can you clarify what you mean by the technician not working on the same project as you? Does this mean that the technician would report to you administratively, but report to another researcher on a different program, with that researcher actually supervising the technician on a daily basis and having overall responsibility for the progress of the program?

When I worked in industry, I had 5-6 different technicians over a 15 year period. Working with a technician has a lot of advantages and just a few disadvantages.
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Re: Advice for a 1st time manager

Postby PG » Tue Jul 19, 2016 2:25 am

Different countries have different laws and policies that has to be followed and also different companies have very different focuses in these processes. You can get a lot of information from what your manager have been doing with you and how. To this try to add parts that you yourself feel that you have been getting to little of or improve parts that you think can be done better. Once you get started talk to your reports and get feedback on your leadership.

Having a direct report that works in a project that has another project lead who is responsible for planning their daily activities is not that unusual. Remember that you have responsibilities that goes at least two ways. You are responsible to ensure that your report delivers what he/she i supposed to be delivering to the project and you are also responsible to ensure that your report gets what he/ she needs to be able to deliver ie training etc. You also need to be balancing the needs of the project with the needs of your report in discussions about for example vacation, workload etc. Again knowing the company culture whcih you have probable seen from your own manager if of great help.
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Re: Advice for a 1st time manager

Postby Abby » Tue Jul 19, 2016 12:58 pm

Renee L. wrote:Can you clarify what you mean by the technician not working on the same project as you? Does this mean that the technician would report to you administratively, but report to another researcher on a different program, with that researcher actually supervising the technician on a daily basis and having overall responsibility for the progress of the program?


Yes- my primary project is entering clinical trials, so not much wetwork left to be completed so I'm the sole technician on my project. This technician would jump right into another science project because people have left. We are a very small department so it won't be hard to know what is happening in the other project.
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Re: Advice for a 1st time manager

Postby Renee L. » Thu Jul 21, 2016 7:50 pm

Well, in this case I'd say that even though you won't have direct responsibility over the lab work assigned, you could still train the technician on equipment/techniques that you all use in your department, just so you can get a feel for how the technician approaches their work.
One thing I found that was beneficial was to periodically ask my technicians what resources they needed to get their work done. It's easy to view them as doing their work for us, and to forget that we have to do work for them, in terms of providing them with whatever they need to get the job done. I'm referring to things like lab supplies, lab space, decent computers and computer supplies, adequate training (so important!), and clear instructions on what they are supposed to be doing, both on a daily basis and long term over the course of the year.
After working with the 5-6 technicians that I had, I came to the realization that each required different approaches in terms of how I supervised them. Some liked a lot of autonomy, and were able to do the work with little supervision. Others needed a lot of attention, and preferred that I be available to help out with making decisions throughout the day. Some were interested in knowing how our technical programs were faring overall, and others just wanted to come in to the lab, do the work, and go home (nothing wrong with this, either). Take your cue from the individual you are supervising, and go from there.
I hope this all helps you out.
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Re: Advice for a 1st time manager

Postby M.A. » Mon Jul 25, 2016 6:06 pm

Good advice above. As for websites, I like askamanager. It's a US-based website so many of the aspects of HR-related issues are more US-centric but there are lots of contributors from various countries. I can often find generally relevant discussions (on how to give feedback, motivation, interpersonal issues etc.) there.
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