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Staff Management for Introverts

When a promotion makes you anxious rather than excited, here’s what to do

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by Kara Baskin

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Congratulations: You got a promotion. You’re going to manage a whole team. You will have your very own corner office. Fame and glory will be yours. That is unless you’re an introvert and would rather crawl under your fancy new desk than make small talk with your interns.

Career counselor Helene Lauer gave Life Reimagined her four-step success plan for meek managers.

Step One: Go One-on-One. As soon as possible, meet with your staff on an individual basis and find out what they need from you and the organization to excel at their jobs. Use this information to set goals and schedule mentoring with each person. Use the time to explain your management style, which is probably more hands-off than most managers. If you set the tone early, you won’t have to backpedal later.

Step Two: Eyeball Everyone. Use your powers of observation to stay on top of work that’s being done in your department. Establish your presence and your interest in others. Grab your coffee and walk around the workspace each morning. This isn’t just a caffeine field trip: People will be able to ask you questions on the fly, possibly eliminating the need to set a longer meeting with you later. Introverts are excellent observers, Lauer points out. During your strolls, you’ll be able to see how people interact and then manage accordingly.

Step Three: Build a Team. Make cross-functional training your hallmark, so that your staff can ask each other for assistance and save the important issues for their time with you.

Step Four: Organize Off-Sites. Have off-site meetings to encourage group interaction, either over lunch or during team-building exercises—and hire an expert to run them. This way you’re not on the hot seat, but your team is still learning.  

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