Five Tips for First-Time Managers

Are you a new manager? Congratulations! While it’s an exciting time, with any new job, a new role in management can bring on some major challenges. Being a manager means that you now have to make many executive decisions — but to succeed in doing so, you need to keep a few tips in mind.

While it’s an exciting time, with any new job, a new role in management can bring on some major challenges. Being a manager means that you now have to make many executive decisions — but to succeed in doing so, you need to keep a few tips in mind.“Changing roles is like making a pivot in a basketball game,” explains Ashley Goodall, chief learning officer at business consulting firm Deloitte. “You are anchored by your areas of strength, and they don’t change as you move. But the expectations of you shift as you go in a new direction. As you move into a management position, you will be orchestrating the work instead of doing it. The trick will be to pay attention to the expectations of your new role and to figure out how to put your strengths to work in different ways.”

To succeed in your new position as manager, keep these tips in mind.

Be Patient

You may feel tempted to jump into the new role, but there’s a risk to moving too fast. Instead, take small steps and learn by observing and listening intently to your mentor.

“New managers need to be patient as they build their skill level in all areas of management,” says Joyce LeMay, department chair of the business and human resource programs at St. Paul College in Saint Paul, Minnesota. “Mentors are key to improving the success of new managers.” As you grow into the job, you’ll be able to get a better handle on the ins and outs of it.

Communicate With Your Team

As a new manager, you’ll likely be more involved in work that involves planning and strategy — information that your team may not have access to. And it’s important that you keep them informed of this pertinent company information.

“First-time managers often underestimate the importance of transparency,” says David Niu, founder and CEO of employee engagement tool TINYpulse. “They often hold information that their team members don’t have access to. They can avoid being seen as uncommunicative by being willing to share information such as budget, customer feedback and strategic plans. Transparency can also help staff better understand their role as part of a bigger picture and thus, feel more connected to the company and team.”

Recognize an Employee’s  Hard Work

“Take time to build recognition into the team culture,” Niu said. “Frequent recognition fosters a positive team environment and creates a culture of gratitude.” By acknowledging something an employee does well on a daily basis, you’re creating an atmosphere where employees take pride in their work and want to continue to do well. Also, it’s not always the work stuff that should be recognized.

“Don’t just wait until the big wins to recognize team members. For example, thank employees who took the initiative to clean up after an office party,” says Niu.

Give Direction…

“So often new managers think that’s it: ‘I’ve had a conversation with somebody, I’ve asked them to do something, my piece here is done and now it’s up to them to deliver,’” says Jerry Hauser, CEO of The Management Center in Washington, D.C. However, when you assume that something will happen the way you intended without giving clearer guidance, you likely won’t get the result you’d hoped.

“Even incredibly well-intentioned, skilled staff members will deliver something different from what you expected if you’re entirely hands-off through the process.” Be sure to give thorough explanations, check in with your employees during prominent parts of a project or ask to see some sort of outline to see how their work is going.

…But Don’t Micromanage

“Before you were a manager, your number one job was to accomplish tasks,” explains Penelope Trunk, author of a blog on the intersection of work and life. “Now, your number one job is to help other people accomplish the tasks in an outstanding way.” Because of this, it can be hard not to want to closely manage and control each of your staff’s work. After all, if they fail, you essentially do, too. But the truth is there’s a stigma associated with micromanagement, and it also has some negative effects on both you and your employees. Have confidence in your workers and understand that they’re professionals who can get the job done without you having to closely observe them.

“Management is a tricky topic,” says Jim Lynch, director of the Association of Professional Office Managers. “What might work for one employee or one organization might not work for another. But by following basic guidelines, you can succeed.”


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