New Manager’s Dilemma: See No Evil?

The problem.  You’re a new manager and and want to get to know your team members.  Meeting with them individually – to learn about each other and share ideas, goals, and concerns – is well worth the time.  But do you also read their personnel files, particularly their performance reviews and any disciplinary notes?  Do you ask the previous manager about them?  How much do you want to know?

What to do.  This is a judgment call.  On the one hand, you want to keep an open mind and not prejudge anyone.  On the other, you want to hit the ground running and don’t want to be blindsided.  Listening to gripes and gossip by a previous manager is probably not a good idea: you don’t know if that person lacked supervisory skills or tended toward personality conflicts.  Skimming files or talking to your own manager – particularly to determine if anyone is on a progressive discipline path or needs serious training or other attention – is often useful.  A third possibility is to ask each employee how it’s been for them, what their challenges are, and what they need from you as their manager. 

What are your thoughts?         ~AS


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