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Play 4 - Ask questions, then ask more questions; in fact, never stop asking questions!

In order to support yourself in getting up to speed, understanding your new role, what is expected of you, and the current state of things, ask lots of (thoughtful) questions. Do not be afraid to do this; it is expected that you do not know most things at the start, and most likely, someone else has the same question. You are new: take advantage of your first weeks to learn as much as possible and understand assumptions that may currently exist!

By asking questions, you not only learn things more quickly and gather a lot of information, you also may nudge others to rethink why something is a certain way. Are there certain , external,preferences, traditions, or requirements held that have driven decisions? Having knowledge of these preferences, traditions or requirements helps root out underlying (or unknown) problems and primes your team for future improvements. You don’t need to act right away (unless it is an immediate emergency); note it for the future, as it could become an important initiative that you take on for yourself and/or your team.

Lastly, ask questions in the most open channel possible; default to asking about something in a public forum whenever it makes sense and is safe to do so - for both you and others. There are likely others who either have the same question or will have the same question, and everyone benefits from the knowledge sharing. Sometimes, asking a question when you lack context can also help shed light on something that could be improved, which is beneficial to the team and organization. For example, asking fellow supervisors how they handle performance reviews with union employees or how they solicit feedback from direct reports.

Action Items

  • Ask for any relevant documentation related to the project

  • Ask your supervisor what access you will need:

    • System access to things like HR Links or communication platforms like Slack
    • Ask about the tools and technologies being used by the team and what support exists for them
  • Request invites to all related Slack channels

  • Request invites to any Google Groups or distribution lists that are a part of the project

  • Request local admin access if you’ll be doing any hands-on development

  • For products:

    • Ask your team and other peers about the production release process
    • Ask about any incident response and on-call protocol that exists for projects
    • Learn about and/or help establish a production support rotation if necessary
    • Who is on call, when and if that is needed?
    • What is your role in an incident response?
    • What is the escalation path if it’s needed?

Play 4 Reflection Questions

  • What supervisory tasks are you feeling confident about? Where do you still have questions? How can you get them answered?
  • As you are asking questions, what opportunities do you see?

Play 4 Case Studies

  • Since transitioning into the supervisor role, you’ve noticed that the project team you are working with appears to be standoffish when you ask them questions about the project. The questions you ask are important and relevant to the success and completion of the project. You have heard rumors that people think your questions are annoying. How will you handle it?
  • As you begin holding 1-on-1’s, you notice that conversations with one of your direct reports feel awkward. When asking questions, you often receive short or clipped answers, and you are struggling to develop rapport. You are unsure of how to support them. How might you change your approach to these 1-on-1’s?
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