15 Tips for New Managers
Being promoted to manager for the first time is both exhilarating and challenging. It takes smarts to move up the corporate ladder but transitioning into your new role means mastering a new skill set.
No matter what kind of business or field you work in, these 15 tips will help you navigate the managerial waters.
- Get Ready Before You Get Promoted: This may sound counter-intuitive (and many cases it may be too late), but if you're on the cusp of moving up then are things you can do to get ready for your new role including reading up on the topic, taking courses, and learning from others. If you're offered a promotion and you’re not prepared, you may want to kick yourself for not boning up beforehand.
- Recognize That It's a New Job: Even though you were most likely promoted in a department where let's say you were the best engineer, you are no longer an engineer; you’re a manager overseeing engineers. While you may not have mastered your new job, you do have a track record of success in that area, so focus on your ability to master a job.
- Learn Situational Leadership: This is a must-have leadership skill for any manager. Situational leadership is a model for figuring out how to manage each employee, depending on how much direction they need.
- Get to Really Know Your Employees: Spend time with every employee and get to know their jobs, career goals, strengths, and weaknesses, likes, and dislikes but don't stop there. If you also get to know the names of their children and pets, where they live, and anything else that’s important to them you'll build a solid foundation of trust.
- Learn and Practice Active Listening: If you had to pick just one skill important to your success as a manager, that would be active listening, which is considered the most important skill to master as a leader.
- Learn to Let Go of the Details: Focus on the big picture and what your employees are accomplishing on a daily basis and whether or not they are meeting their goals. Remember, you’re not being paid to do your old job so leave the minutia up to your staff.
- You’re a Boss, Not a Friend: One of the most frequent mistakes new managers make is that they try to be friends with their employees. It is especially hard when you get promoted over your peers, and you're now managing friends who were once peers. You’re now in a position of power and authority and being friends with one employee, and not another creates perceptions of bias and favoritism. You can be friends outside of the office, but while in the office, keep the interaction professional.
- Don't Be Surprised by Former Co-Workers' Personal Issues: New managers are often shocked to discover some of the performance and personal issues the previous boss was (discreetly) dealing with. You may have thought Donna was a funny, well-liked employee but now know that Donna is a Diva and you'll need to pick up where your boss left off and deal with Donna your way.
- Learn to Deal With Performance Issues: Your previous boss may have been sweeping poor performance issues under the rug. Part of your new job will be learning a consistent and effective way to deal with employees who are not performing up to standard.
- Treat Every Employee With Respect: You may be in a superior position, but you are not superior to anyone. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and if you waiver from this, you'll end up losing more than your own self-respect.
- Use the Four Magic Words: “What Do You Think?”: This is a favorite quote from management guru Tom Peters. Asking your employees for their ideas is the ultimate display of respect and empowers them to solve their own problems.
- Pay Attention to Your New Team: While you may be the team leader of your team, you’re now a member of a brand new team; your manager’s management team. Managing sideways is just as important as managing up and down.
- Be Available and Be Visible: The more involved and engaged you are with your team, the more motivated they will be to do a good job. People like being a part of something bigger than themselves and they also need to know that there's a captain at the helm of the ship.
- Schedule Solo Meetings as Well as Team Meetings: You need to interface with people on a private basis to see if there are any problems you're not aware of, and for bonding time. You also need all the members of your team to interact with each other.
- Embrace Your Role as a Leader: Leading can (and should) be an extraordinary and rewarding responsibility. One should never take it lightly or take it for granted.