10 Tips for New Managers

Estimated reading time: 4 mins

Have you just taken on your first managerial role? (Congratulations!) You won’t want to miss these 10 valuable tips!

I remember my first position as a manager. It was a nerve-racking time as I don’t think anybody (no matter what they say!) is really ready for it. We can go on managerial training courses, and read books, but nothing really prepares you for it except plain old experience. So let me share my experiences with you so you can avoid the common pitfalls of becoming a manager for the first time.

  1. First of all, keep a level head and don’t think that you’re the CEO. Managers who face employees with a head full of themselves quickly lose the respect and compliance of their team. Don’t let the new badge shine in your peoples face too brightly!
  2. Just as important, though, is to be a manager. In your new role, you and your team have responsibilities, and you must deliver on them. So your new authority must come to bear when it is needed. Many new managers take a while to become comfortable with their new power, especially if promoted from with their ranks. It’s important to be supportive, directive and manage for performance. Use your power, appropriately (see my article The Five Sources of a Leader’s Power, and how (and how not) to use them)
  3. Network with other managers to learn how things are done. Don’t be afraid of asking your managerial colleagues for their view on how management works best in your organization. There are often unwritten rules or best practice that you need to find out. You’ll also need a support network for the times when your new job takes its toll on your stress levels, or if you need advice (or a shoulder to cry on…) Don’t be an island! Schedule some coffee-meets as soon as you can.
  4. And to further the above point, learn about your organizational culture. You might be new to your organization, and often culture can appear differently from the other side of the desk. Understand what values drive decisions within your organization. If you didn’t know this before, then you need to know now, because going against the culture and values of your organization can be disasterous for your career there!
  5. Remember, everybody is a resource. This is one the habits in my eBook ‘The 10 Habits of Highly Effective Professionals‘ (free when you sign up to my newsletter). Every single person in your team is good at something, and it’s your job to put them to work doing it. So the sooner you do the point below, the better.
  6. Get to know the strengths and weaknesses of your team members. Managing for performance is your way to success! You don’t need to patch up everyone’s weaknesses (in fact, don’t focus on weakness.) Focus, and apply, your people’s strengths.
  7. Performance Management is a continual process – not done only at appraisal time. Performance reviews must be done throughout the year and use appraisals only to formalise things. I always hold weekly one-on-one meetings with my team members where we discuss performance and how we can address issues. It’s so much easier, for both manager and employee, if performance issues are dealt with in small chunks.
  8. Discuss your new role with your team early and invite questions. Discuss any changes you would like to make and explain how you are applying your own style. Upfront discussion about how things are going to work, from now, displays confidence. But let your resolve be fuzzy around the edges to allow influence from your team if your confronted with reasonable logic!
  9. Strike your ‘contract’ with your boss. What I mean is, ask you new boss how they want to receive information, and give direction. Open a door upwards, as well as downwards. The ‘key performance indicators’ of your team (i.e. what measurable things are most important) should have been made clear when you took on the job, but they’re not always. It’s best to seek clarity on these things now, before you find out at your first moment of failure!
  10. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from your team. You’re not perfect (who is?) and the best people to give you feedback are the people you work with the most. Foster open communications, and always make sure that it’s done respectfully.

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