Q: I'm temping at a corporation that's making noises about hiring me. Trouble is, the office culture is to stay pretty late, and I have community obligations in the evening. Some employees have confided that they were told such activities wouldn't be a problem, then once they were on board, they got chastised for leaving "early." I always get in early because of the bus, so I'm certainly putting in enough hours. How can I get both the job and a normal schedule?
A: You have to hold this conversation with your new boss — letting the employer know that you will be arriving early, but will need to leave by a certain time because of other obligations. If you arrive early, that may make it okay. Or, maybe you can stay later one or two times a week as a compromise. I do think it is critical to get this discussed and clarified in advance.
Q: What are some good methods or tools to improve engagement, motivation, etc. when employees have a direct supervisor where once they had only a distant program manager?
A: The manager should make a good effort to really talk to each employee on the team, to learn what they do, what their areas of expertise are, what they like about their jobs, how the manager can best help them, etc. Spend the time getting to know them as people. If it is a small team, take them to lunch individually to learn more about them. Set up some activities to build the team — maybe a social event — lunch, happy hour, some fun activity. Not only will people need to build a connection with the manager, but they will need to build trust. A great book to review is "Dysfunctions of Teams" by Patrick Lencioni. It offers great ideas for factors to consider when building teams.