Moving Up the Management Ladder: Utilize Your Prior Experience to Manage Your Staff Today
By John Ely Senior Vice President of Marketing, Signature Worldwide | May 28, 2010
My management career started very early at the age of 24, when I was chosen to help open a new manufacturing facility in Sacramento, Calif. We were the typical high-tech firm in Silicon Valley, and even as early as 1984, the company realized that manufacturing costs in the hotbed of the world's technology center were escalating as more firms popped up near our facility in Palo Alto. This influx of technology research and development raised the education level of workers coming into the area, and in turn, pushed the labor costs up. Our best option was to build a new facility in the central valley of California which at that time was still "undiscovered."
I was excited that management felt I had the skills to build and develop a team at our new plant. However, I was also apprehensive, because up until that point, managers had simply been people who told me what to do. I was a junior engineer and had absolutely no experience managing people. I had only mastered our processes.
Offer Personal Attention
I entered the proposition with an open mind, and found that I had a natural propensity for working with teams. I learned more in those first few years about people, management and business in general. It wasn't easy, but I had good guidance from many of my managers. The first lesson I learned was that I needed to pay personal attention to everyone on the team. One of the more senior managers of the initiative took me (and a few others) under his wing and helped us develop our management skills by setting good examples.
I remember him taking time with me to inquire how I was doing as both an employee and an individual. We would have one-on-one conferences at least twice a month, sometimes more. During these hour-long meetings, we would discuss the hiring and training processes for new team members I was assembling; identify the superstars; collaborate on how to help the new employees that required more guidance; and review what to do when progress stalled.
We also talked about how the new position was affecting me personally and professionally. Was I able to keep pace with the implementation schedule? Was I acclimated with our human resources policies and hiring procedures? Do my new staff members understand their roles, and are they making an impact? How do I feel about all the changes?