Question: I just started at this job and the staff is not used to good management. I would go as far as to say it’s a little toxic. I do my best to treat everyone fairly and with respect but encounter lots of defensiveness aggression and difficult time helping them understand!

Answer: All of us fear change. One thing we should remember is that there is always chaos before change. For one thing, the amygdala shoots out chemicals through your blood stream as fear, doubt, anxiety and even anger. So this is normal that there is chaos and even resentment before a change.

Going from bad management to good management is going to be an experience not unlike the hit show, “The Nanny.” The kids (your staff) are spoiled and unruly. They are going to resist at first and you will be the one who feels the pain. It may even feel personal at times. Here’s what you want to do.

1. Set the expectations
when people know what to expect they cooperate much more than when they feel uncertain. Start out by letting them know how you manage, and what you want from them.

2. Acknowledge the elephant in the room
Denial always makes the situation worse.  Let them know that you know there are uncomfortable changes taking place and you are committed to getting their ideas for improvement. Just showing them you have the nerve to bring it up will gain you some respect.

3. Ask for suggestions from them one-on-one
Create an open atmosphere to get their suggestions. Listen more than you talk. You will learn a lot about who is a problem-solver and who just wants to complain.

4. Meet with everyone. Hold a meeting with everyone and ask THEM what is working and what is not working, reiterate some of what you heard from them one-on-one.

5. Create a vision together. People support what they help to create. If you want everyone to row together, get them engaged.

6. Master your meetings. Meeting regularly with an agenda shows you are master of the ship, plus it gives you a way to acknowledge those who are offering ideas. Make sure you let them know when their ideas are being implemented, and even praise those ideas offered but not yet appropriate for implementation.

7. Create pilot programs. Always take changes in small increments and set frames of time to make the change. In other words, we will try it this way for three months and revisit to see if we want to keep it tweak it or throw the idea away.

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