8 Tips for New Managers
Getting your first management or team supervision role is very exciting and a little scary. Firstly congratulations and welcome to your new career of managing people. Moving into officially managing people is a memorable career milestone. I have 8 very useful tips for new managers that will help you make the most of this transition into management.
I also have an important bonus tip at the end, which you can put into action very quickly.
8 Tips for New Managers:
- Be yourself
- Get to know your team – build personal relationships
- You are a boss, not a friend
- Understand what your manager expects of you
- Be clear about what you want from your team
- Focus on developing your team
- Practice managing your own emotions
- Always keep learning
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Be yourself – the first tip
Building trust with your team is necessary to be a good manager. Team members will trust you a lot more quickly is you are being authentic and being true to yourself. Don’t put on an act, pretend to be someone else or act how you think a stereotypical manager should act. Just be yourself.
People have an innate ability to spot fakes or those putting on an act. There is no quicker way to get their guard up and reduce their trust of you, which is exactly what you don’t want. Let your team see who you are, tell them what you like and don’t like when you are outside of work, share your story with them when they ask.
Approach managing others with your style, your personality. You will enjoy your job of being a manager a whole lot more when you are just being yourself.
Second tip for new managers: Get to know your team – build personal relationships
Next, get to know your team. They are all individuals with they own styles, ambitions, skills, hopes and dreams.
Find out what your team members do outside of work, what they like and don’t. Put yourself in a position that you know a bit about each of their lives outside work and be happy holding a conversation with them that is not work related. Build relationships with your team on a personal level.
In addition, get to know them on a professional level too. What are they good at, what do they need to develop? Are they dependable, self-starters or do they need a lot of help and coaching to deliver their work to a good standard?
A quote I love is “okay managers play checkers; great managers play chess” which talks to great managers flexing their style and using the strengths of individuals to drive a better overall team result.
Work out the gaps in your team. Do various members’ strengths compensate for other members weaknesses or do you have obvious holes in the collective team’s ability to deliver in certain areas. Think about what you can do to fill these gaps.
Get to know your teams and each individual’s strengths and weaknesses and manage accordingly.
You are a boss, not a friend – the third tip for new managers
While building relationships with your team members, you must remember that you are the manager not a friend. If you are too friendly with your team members, then it makes it harder for you to take those difficult decisions that are part of management.
Be friendly, be supportive but don’t treat your team as friends in a social sense. This will not help them nor you in the longer term.
If you have been promoted and now have to manage a team whose members were your colleagues, you have an even tougher job in this regard. Create some emotional distance between you and them – but not too much. For instance, don’t go to lunch with them every day as you used to. Go once or twice a week instead. This is not an easy transition. Ask yourself, do you want to be their friend or be their manager. It is very hard to be both so choose.
Understand what your manager expects of you
Your relationship with your manager and the help and guidance you can get from them is even more important as you transition into a management role. Don’t be afraid to ask to their opinion when people management challenges come up. Just have your best response to the situation ready before you ask so you are bringing a solution to the table.
Find out exactly what your manager wants from you personally and what they want from your team. Keep asking questions until you are happy that you understand what okay and what good – looks like from your manager’s point of view. Push to get the detail and agree specific goals and objectives with your manager so you are clear on their expectations towards you.
Don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap of accepting vague expectations. You need to build up your management experience as quickly as possible – and specific instructions and goals do help – when you are new to the role.
Be clear about what you want from your team and communicate this often – the fifth tip for new managers
When you are clear what your manager wants from you, you can now think about what you want from your team.
Think about – what you need your team to deliver – to reach the team goals and meet your manager’s expectations and the expectations of any other stakeholders. Don’t take on the full responsibility of working out how to achieve the goals – get your team involved in this process. That way you can share the problem solving responsibility, take the pressure of you and get much better team buy-in. All good wins.
Once you have set out the goals and have a plan of how to reach those goals as a team, break down the activities, projects and goals to an individual level and write down each person objectives and goals.
Keep track of these and create visibility with the team. Put a whiteboard on the wall; bring the goals up in one to one and team meetings. Make sure you don’t forget about the team goals, because if you do, your team will.
Sixth tip for new managers: Focus on developing your team
The better your team, the more the team should be able to deliver, thus making it more valuable to the company. As a manager, your performance is now tied to the team’s performance. A great way to improve a team’s performance is to improve each individual’s performance. In doing so, you show that as a manager you care about your team member’s career.
So mentor, coach and teach everything you can to your team members. Help them become better at their job in terms of both their technical skills and their soft skills or transferrable skills.
The best managers I have had in my career taught me loads. They encouraged me to learn and help me to do so. I believe managers should be teachers and coaches. This approach will deliver better team performances and creates stronger teams. Both will help your career as a manager!
Put in as much time and effort as you can into mentoring and coaching your team members. As I have personally experienced, it will pay you back many times over!
Practice managing your own emotions and develop your emotional intelligence – the seventh tip
Being a manager, you are in the spotlight. Everything you do and say will signal to your team members how they should work and behave. Actions speak louder than words and your actions will send strong messages – whether you want them to or not.
If you want team members to turn up to meetings on time, make sure you do. If you want team members to deliver their work on time, make sure you do – etc.
How you react to situations as well as how you behave influences your team members. When you start managing others, you should also be as aware of your own reactions as possible and start practicing how you manage your emotions and reactions.
This is not about become a robot. You are going to be angry and frustrated just like everyone else. It is okay to show some of this emotion. HOW you show your emotions is now important because you are the leader. Show you are in control of yourself and the situation. Reframe negative emotions into constructive problem solving action.
For example, if you are frustrated, solve the problem that causes the frustration rather than just venting your frustration.
After all, if you are not able to manage yourself then how can you manage others?
Always keep learning – the final tip for new managers
If you are looking to progress your career, then will need to keep learning. I would argue that in the modern world, you have little choice but to keep learning if you want to keep yourself and your skills relevant.
So actively look for any opportunities to learn. Read books, watch YouTube videos, take courses, organise one-to-one meetings with your manager to discuss challenges, get a mentor, hire a professional coach, network with business friends – there are so many ways to learn.
Management skills are skills. You need to learn the knowledge and even more importantly you need to practice these skills. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – and you will make them. Just make sure you learn from them. I have been managing teams for 25 years I still make plenty of mistakes.
Ask for feedback from your manager, peers, team members – anyone willing to give you honest useful feedback. As you rise through the ranks, the less useful feedback you get so make the most of any feedback you get now.
The more quality feedback you can get on your management skills, the quicker you will be able to learn and improve your skills and therefore the quicker you will be able to progress your career. So get as much feedback as you can.
Bonus tip – Dress for the part
I thought I would leave you with a bonus tip, which is dress for the part. You might think that this is old-fashioned advice, particularly with more offices dressing down, but it remains very important.
Aim to dress at least as well as your manager and their peer group. If they wear good quality suits, make sure yours is too. If they wear blazers or smart jackets with their casual outfits, get one too.
You have just joined a management group. One of the first steps and quickest steps you can take to make sure you fit in – is to dress appropriately. Look closely what your new peers are wearing. What ties, shirts, blouses, jeans, watches, jewellery, etc and invest in a similar level of look. Keep your style and make sure you look the part.
Management skills are skills and if you want to get better at management, you need to practice. So try different approaches, experiment, and keep asking for feedback. You will make mistakes – that is okay – just make sure you learn from them.
Make sure you know what your manager wants from you and you in turn clearly communicate what you want from your team and keep communicating it.
Enjoy managing your team!