Common Mistakes by New PD Managers

Janet Hawk Hand Raised

Five ways to save yourself when you’re thrown in the middle of the lake and told to swim …

I’ve seen it talked and written about SO many times: people promoted to a new role and then left to their own devices without much guidance or resources to actually succeed. No training, just given a new role and new responsibilities.

To do this to someone who has no experience in management is setting them up for failure and will cause major problems with your team and, ultimately, your guests. The stress of the new role and not knowing what to do can be disastrous to the success of your organization. Not to mention, making the work environment absolutely miserable! If these issues aren’t addressed, the department will become a pressure cooker waiting to explode. This not only applies to the PD department, but to all departments.

I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal on leadership adapted from “The Wall Street Journal Essential Guide to Management” by Alan Murray. He talked about how different the roles of management and leadership are and that they should go hand-in-hand. Managers are required to plan, coordinate and help organize. A leader inspires and motivates. Uniting these two roles is the secret to success for the entire department. So, how do you do that? Below are a few helpful hints:

1. Get to know your team

Ironically, the role of overseeing a PD team is a lot like a host relating to a guest. Each member of the team is different, with different motivations and different needs. Not only as a group, but also, individually. Just like a host does with a guest, you need to take the time to develop the relationship with your team. LISTEN!

2. No egos allowed

It’s not about you. Your team will react much better to you if you are honest and upfront with them. Bottom line, you ARE going to make mistakes so, own them, fix them, forgive yourself and move on. Your team is going to make mistakes, too. Coach them through it. Mistakes won’t kill you and they can be the best learning tool you will ever use. If you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t taking chances. Player Development is all about taking chances!

3. Encourage and motivate

Once you get to know your team, both as a group and as individuals, you will know what makes them tick. Your team WANTS to do a good job, not only for you and your casino, but for themselves and their guests. Help them organize, prioritize and plan ahead. Use the knowledge about your team to motivate and encourage them … often! Get feedback as a group and individually to see what is working and what isn’t. Again, listen! Based on this crucial information, you can set performance goals and initiatives that, along with detailed analysis, will help your team succeed. Celebrate successes!

4. Don’t “lay down the law”

Demands and threats will never get your team to follow you or produce. One of the worst things that new managers do is to not address issues or problems head on, face to face. It’s uncomfortable, I get it. But, avoiding a problem and hoping it will go away or sending out a “blanket” email to the entire team filled with threats and intimidation are no-nos. First of all, threats and intimidation will never create a positive result. Second, it is highly likely that the employee that the email is intended for will ignore it and it will have a profoundly negative effect on the rest of the team. This is where knowing each member of you team really becomes important. Face to face interaction is the only way. You can’t coach your team from a computer. Address the issue head on, ask questions (why, when, where, what), listen (just as important!!) and, if necessary, hold them accountable, then develop a plan to move forward.

5. Ask for help

It’s ok to ask for help. No one knows it all. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice or guidance … from everyone and listen! The best education I ever got was when I was just starting in the casino business in Vegas and I listened to people that had “been there, done that.” Some were management, some were frontline, and others were in completely different departments. Their stories were not only amazing and incredibly interesting, but taught me so much. All the good, bad and infamous!

Never stop learning and growing with your team and don’t be afraid to get in the trenches with them. It will not only give you a greater perspective of what they are dealing with, but your team will appreciate it!

PS: Just one pet peeve …

Stop the team reading assignments and book reports! This isn’t school and your team has enough to do. You can (and should!) read books, articles, etc. that will expand your knowledge. Use that new knowledge when you coach and lead by example!

Janet Hawk