Are you about to be promoted to your first ever managerial position, but have no clue on how to actually lead a team? Well, you are not alone! This is a completely valid concern, as most managers never actually go through management training. They are promoted because they were exceptional at their job and often show certain leadership qualities over their colleagues. How they manage and lead a team is based on their personality and the way they were treated by managers.
So how do you make sure you swim — and don’t sink — as a first time manager?
Give everyone a clean slate. As a new manager, throw out everything you have heard about certain employees and give everyone a fair chance. See the type of work they produce for yourself and offer continuous feedback on an informal basis as needed. The worst thing you can do is make assumptions about workers based on others’ opinions without your own evidence.
Don’t be afraid to shake things up. Show your new team that you are serious by getting rid of inefficiencies that you notice around the office. Whether it is extra paperwork or inadequate resources that are holding the employees back, a manager has the ability to change things up a bit. So, do your research and make an impact by improving the workplace during your first few weeks. Think about self-management vs. being the know-it-all. Your team knows you don’t know everything; let them help you lead. Tell them where you want to go and ask them how we should get there. This builds teams and teamwork.
Make time for individuals. The only way to take your team to the next level is to recognize and work one-on-one with each individual. Strong individuals will inevitably make for a stronger team. Take time out of your busy schedule to guide all employees as they will have different strengths and weaknesses. Know their aspirations and offer continuous feedback so you help them help the overall team.
Ask them, “If you could have anyone’s job here, who’s would you want? What do you like about that position? Does your current job match what you want to do? What are you passionate about?” Sometimes, you have to play musical chairs to get everyone in the job they truly desire.
Be more humble than you are arrogant. So, you’re an all-star because you beat out five people for the promotion and got a fatty raise. You’re just about the most important person in the world…right? Sorry to rain on your parade, but being promoted to a managerial position does not guarantee that your success will continue. There are plenty of workers that are great employees but fail miserably at leading a team and helping others grow. Before you gloat to the entire world (including your employees) that you are better than them, take some time to first be the best manager you can.
Be social. Even if someone outside of your team wants you to be their mentor or career counselor, say yes. Within your first few weeks, introduce yourself to managers and departments you have not met before. Get to know as many people as you can because you will be able to learn from them. Approach other departments and ask them for feedback about your team and projects. The more you stay on their radar, the more likely it is that you can partner with them in the future.
Engage the team. Include them in decision-making as much as possible and have an open door policy. Instead of only managing them, put the responsibility on the team and constantly ask them for their opinions and feedback. Conduct frequent brainstorming sessions and have lunch together at least once a week with the entire team so you are more comfortable with them. Be personable with them and know what they are looking for, whether it is more compensation, recognition or relationships.
What advice do you have for first-time managers?