4 Tips for First-Time Managers

Earning a promotion to a managerial position is a major career accomplishment. It’s a sign that your superiors are recognizing your hard work and entrusting you to lead others, shaping the success and future of the company. While any promotion is exciting and rewarding, it can also bring up some fears and doubts about higher expectations. Becoming a manager for the first time can be overwhelming, but there are a number of actions a person can take to ease the transition into a leadership role. Here are a few tips :

1) Get to know people personally

Making a personal connection is integral to developing feelings of trust and getting the best out of your staff. Managers who show that they care about who their employees are outside of work signal to their employees that they’re valued as human beings, not just looked at as another number. This means taking an interest in their personal lives and getting to know them better by talking about things like TV shows or movies, pets, interests, hobbies, family, etc.

Naturally, the discussion may become serious when talking about personal topics. And although Human Resources may be better equipped to handle certain conversations, your teammates may trust you more than an HR rep so it’s important to be able to handle these talks. Sometimes you may just need to lend an ear and listen, and other times you could be asked to provide useful advice.

One topic that you should absolutely be ready to handle is finances. As part of any compensation or performance review, money is likely to come up in conversation. Your employees may look to you for advice, especially if they’re younger or have less work experience. You may want to recommend that they set up a 401k plan, see a financial advisor, or suggest something as simple as setting up an online banking account for an easy way to save.

2) Lead by example

When it comes to managing your employees and setting a standard of success, it’s important to lead by example. Employees may resent you if you don’t play by the same rules that you enforce. Not only are you reaffirming your expectations and procedures, but also the standard of excellence that goes along with them. There are several ways that you can exemplify an attitude of “leading by example.”

New manager working with employee

First, you should be an active listener. This means that you accept feedback from your team and work with them to mold the direction in which you’d like to move. It’s more effective to have team members feel like they have an active stake in the decision-making process rather than just being told what to do.

Another way to lead by example is to do the dirty work yourself. This doesn’t mean that you enable workers to be dependent on you by handling everything yourself. Instead, this means getting down in the trenches with them when things get tough and helping out where it’s needed. Your team members need to feel like you are willing to go to battle with them.

3) Trust your team

Just because others may do something in a different way than you would, it doesn’t mean that they’re doing it wrong. Trust that your team members have a process that works for them personally and that they will still be able to produce work effectively. Employees who feel like you trust them will do their best work, not just the work that they believe will appease you.

One way to display trust in your team is by recognizing a job well done. Some employees prefer to be praised individually while others may like to be praised in front of others. Recognizing good work can be especially important for new team members. When somebody is new to a group, they may feel alienated, left out, or insecure. Be sure to enthusiastically integrate them into the team and recognize their hard work early on.

There are also a number of team-building exercises that can help bring your workers closer together and build trust. Some exercises work well for remote team members who are video-conferencing into team meetings while others are better suited to in-person interactions. Book clubs, fun games, and even simple icebreaker questions are all viable options regardless of the structure of your team.

4) Be honest

While it’s important to praise your employees for a job well done, it is equally important to give them honest feedback when there is room for improvement. However, you need to be sensitive in the way that you present the feedback. Too much negative feedback can discourage employees, while too much positive feedback can go to their heads.

Luckily, there are many tips on how to give honest feedback. The first trick to delivering honest, constructive feedback is to make the conversation about the work, not about the person. Try to avoid using “you” statements too frequently; instead, replace them with “we” statements. For example, instead of saying “you shouldn’t do…” you can say “we should avoid doing…”

You can also balance negative feedback by also highlighting the good work the person is doing. This way, employees know what they should continue doing in the future, as well as what they need to improve. Additionally, try to provide concrete suggestions on how they can improve. By giving them specifics about the improvements that need to be made and helping them understand the benefits of doing so, they will be able to make those improvements more quickly and effectively than if they were left to figure it out on their own.

Becoming a first-time manager will be a learning experience. Just like your employees, you won’t achieve perfection right away. You’ll need to learn and improve as time goes on, and the process is ongoing—but by implementing some of these tips, you can hit the ground running and be more successful as a first-time manager.

 

Content written by guest author: Kristen Baker

CMOE guest authors are carefully selected industry experts, researchers, writers and editors with extensive experience and a deep passion for leadership development, human capital performance, and other specialty areas. Each guest author is uniquely selected for the topic or skills areas they are focused on. All posts are peer-reviewed by CMOE.

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