Companies often promote people technical experts to manage their team. The new subordinates ask the new manager how to handle emotional problems at home or at work. Often the new manager barely recognizes emotions. How can s/he cope?
Some new managers take courses at a college, workshops given by consulting groups, or learn by making mistakes and correcting them.
I suggest coaching. It doesn’t matter whether the coach is from inside the company or outside. The new manager’s chemistry has to work with the coach’s. The mistakes the coach made are good examples for new manager.
The two probably should meet two or three times a week. The manager has to learn to be honest both with her/his self and with the coach about failures. Once the manager can speak frankly in detail, the coach can make good suggestions. The coach needs gentle care and compassion.
In my career, medical colleagues needed to deal with emotional situations that frightened them: brain disease. My practice included diseases of the brain. Most doctors heal or keep healthy the organ system they specialize in so that organ will support the brain. We needed to collaborate on patients with a brain disease on top of the illness my colleague treated.
We’d together sit in the cafeteria or go to a conference room. I took responsibility for the brain’s problems, explain how the part of the brain that was damaged should work, and how the disease caused difficulty. I’d tell how I would treat the disease, and how long it might take.
We’d discuss the problems that might come up. I was responsible for talking with the patient and the patient’s family about these.
It worked when I felt how my colleague responded. I failed when I was abrupt or dogmatic.
(More information will appear in my next blog, 5B.)
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Pieter Kark, MD, San Mateo, CA 94401-2238