In my a week by week plan for starting to manage a new team, I made one critical mistake. I forgot that the people on my team are in fact human beings.
Humans tend to have different preferences about everything imaginable. One of those things is how much they want to be “managed” right off the bat.
There are 2 ends of the spectrum: the “be my buddy” end and the “be my coach” end.
- People at the “be my buddy” end want to spend the first few months becoming pals. They don’t want coaching until the relationship is solid. Bring up things like goals or performance or feedback too early, and you’ve set the relationship back.
- People at the “be my coach” end think that even a single 1-1 where they aren’t making meaningful progress in their professional development is a waste of time.
Most people fall somewhere in the middle.
I lean towards the “be my coach” end myself, and I fell into the trap of thinking everyone else was like me. In the software development world (and all other worlds), we call that a “big stupid mistake.”
Lesson learned: assume less, ask more. Ask where each person sits on the buddy/coach spectrum so that you can always start out on the right foot.