From Colleague to Captain: Embracing Your Role as a New Winery Manager

For some, the passion for winemaking evolves into the responsibility of leading a team, but without prior managerial experience, you might find yourself steering through uncharted waters. According to research from CEB (Gartner), 60 percent of new managers fail within the first two years of their new role!

InnoVint’s Director of Client Success, Amanda Turner, has trained and supported many new managers through these challenges. Here’s a distilled version of Amanda’s insights tailored for those stepping into management roles within the wine industry.

1. Building Personal Connections

It’s not just about the wine production process; it’s about the people driving that process.

Picture this: You’re in the middle of a hectic harvest. Amidst logistics concerns like delayed barrel shipments, a team member excitedly shares a personal milestone– their child just took their first step! It’s these moments of connection that transform workplaces into communities.

Amidst the hustle, don’t overlook the value of getting to know your team personally so you can share in these big moments with them. Understand their stories, their motivations, and their concerns so you can create a foundation of trust, empathy, and camaraderie.

Be approachable and genuine, but also establish yourself as a respected guide and confidant, not merely as another colleague.

Here are some strategies to foster meaningful connections:

  • Schedule time for informal one-on-one discussions with your direct reports. Learn about their aspirations, strengths, and interests beyond the workplace. Showing genuine interest in their lives outside of work can go a long way in building rapport.
  • Begin team meetings with light-hearted icebreakers. Questions like “If you were a dog, which breed would you be and why?” can foster a relaxed environment. Amanda personally loves: “Which two accessories come with the action figure version of you?
  • Open up about the challenges and successes you’ve faced in your winemaking journey. By sharing your growth, you create a space for team members to do the same.

Our guiding star at InnoVint is our principle: Put People Above All Else. Because we’re not just running a business, we’re also cultivating relationships, internally and externally.

2. Establishing Trust Through Regular Check-ins

A cohesive winery team thrives on trust. As a new winery manager, building trust with your team is essential for fostering collaboration, open communication, and job satisfaction. One effective way to establish and nurture trust is through regular one-on-one meetings to provide a dedicated space for managers and employees to communicate openly.

Amanda’s Blueprint for Effective One-on-Ones:

  • Schedule meetings at regular intervals (e.g., 30 minutes every Tuesday at 11 a.m.), creating a rhythm so both you and your team can prepare for meaningful discussions.
  • Collaborate on a shared agenda in advance and consider leveraging a digital tool like Google Docs.
  • In the meeting, encourage employees to share their progress, challenges, and goals. Ask open-ended questions. Identify any obstacles and ask how you can help clear those.
  • At the end of the meeting, review and clarify any action items. Then, follow through on items you own in a timely manner to demonstrate your dependability.

Consistent communication not only addresses immediate issues but also carves out a space for team members to share innovative ideas, fostering a culture of inclusivity and creativity.

3. Feedback as a Growth Tool

Feedback is a powerful tool for growth and development. As a winery manager, providing high-quality feedback is essential for nurturing your team’s skills and driving positive change; it’s likely the single biggest thing you can do to help them get better at their job.

Giving feedback can be difficult, even scary, but if you do it right, your direct report will feel valued by and closer to you as a result. The more you do it, the easier it will get.

When offering feedback—constructive feedback or praise (which, by the way, you should do lots of!)—use the SBI model: Situation, Behavior, Impact. This structured approach ensures that feedback is clear, objective, actionable, and memorable.

Employ the SBI Method:

  • Situation: Begin by describing the specific situation or context in which the behavior occurred.
  • Behavior: Then, address the behavior itself, focusing on observable actions rather than personal traits.
  • Impact: Finally, discuss the impact of the behavior on the team, project, or goals.

Here’s a prime example of constructive feedback: “When you were training the interns, you spoke very quickly without pausing for questions. For someone new to our team, it was likely too fast for them to absorb.”

And remember, feedback isn’t just top-down. Encourage your team members to share their thoughts on your managerial practices as well. By creating a culture of open feedback, you create an environment of continuous improvement and mutual respect.

The transition from winemaker to team leader can be as intricate as winemaking. Start by tuning into your team, nurturing trust, and championing feedback. Becoming an effective manager is a journey of continuous learning and adaptation.

You got this. 🍷Cheers to your new chapter!

Spread the word!

Keep Reading