10 Tips for First-Time Managers
You’ve gotten the promotion and you’re now a first time manager… that’s a major accomplishment and it means some changes in your workday, for sure. If you’re not quite sure how to get started, here are some tips to get you off on the right foot.
1. Realize it’s time to change your focus: Your job now is not about doing your own work and accomplishing daily tasks. It’s about helping others to do that. And empowering them to do their best work and grow in their jobs. Your performance ratings will now reflect how well your team operates. That’s a totally different shift in your thinking.
2. Learn as much as you can: Find out about the resources available to you as a manager in your company. Take a class, get familiar with the HR policies and learn all you can about each individual on your team. Make sure you understand what skills, experience and education each member has and what goals they’re working toward.
3. Actively listen: Sometimes new managers want to quickly establish their authority and show they’re in charge. It’s so much better to take the time to listen and understand how the team works and fits into the organization as a whole. Make sure you’re asking questions about what challenges they’re facing and ask for input. When people feel valued and heard they will be more committed to change.
4. Find a mentor: Is there a seasoned manager in the company that you admire? It’s so helpful to have someone to discuss challenges and share ideas. An experienced manager will have faced many of the same issues in the past and have suggestions that are proven to work. Even if this person isn’t your boss or is outside your company, it pays to take advantage of his/her experience.
5. Manage your current relationships: It can be awkward if you have to manage your former peers. You can’t show any favoritism or maintain your weekly lunches/happy hours just as you did before. You have to make a shift right away. You should address the person privately and explain that you need to be seen as a fair manager and that some things will change. It can be uncomfortable, but it’s important.
6. Set the tone: No matter how small your team, it’s up to you to establish some vision and goals. Your attitude and the culture you foster will have a big impact on morale. You want your team to feel empowered, productive and exceptional and to build excitement about being on this team. When everyone buys into the same goals, your team will excel.
7. Give timely and constructive feedback: Put some structures in place for regular one-on-one meetings and provide feedback as you go along. Don’t wait for a yearly review to share what an individual needs to be working on and what they are doing well. Make sure he/she understands why you’re making these comments and what the benefit is to their future career.
8. Empower your team: Try not to micro-manage.: especially if you were recently in a particular role and had your own way of doing it. Once you’ve established expectations, give him/her the space to define the role and provide subtle direction only when needed. Allow him to handle the work his own way as long as it meets established goals.
9. Be a clear communicator: Make sure you’re sharing information from the “higher-ups” so the team can anticipate changes. It builds trust when you’re transparent and the team will see you as part of the group instead of just “the boss.”
10. Be a good example: Your team will look to you when they need to push through difficult challenges. Be mindful of your own reactions to situations and be patient. Slow down and develop a perspective that your team will admire and want to model.
Being a manager is an on-going learning process and you’ll grow into the job with time and experience. If you set expectations and shift your focus from the start, you’ll be well on your way to success.