New Role as Manager

Becoming a new manager should be a great time in a person’s life. They’ve worked hard to advance their career and were rewarded with a leadership position they desired.

For new employees in a management position, it can be extra overwhelming to step into a new job with a team to corral and expectations for immediate delivery. New leaders are often brought in to affect change, and all eyes are on them to see if they can pull it off.

You only get one chance to make a first impression, so the first day in your new role is vital to give everyone the right taste for which you are and to get things off to a great start.

Whether you’re new to management, or considering a transition into management, do you know what the role of a manager involves? Many first-time managers imagine they’ll do essentially the same job they were doing before and that only the challenges will be bigger. But you may be surprised by just how different your job will be as a manager.

You need to stop and think about what being a manager really involves and what you’ll bring to the role. Thinking about certain things can help you make the switch:

  • review your preconceptions of the management role
  • consider the new demands that will be placed on you
  • think about the skills you need
  • reflect on any relevant experience you might have

Another compelling reason to take the time to consider your new role is that you’ll make a good first impression. Being prepared will help you transition more effectively into your new role. Your initiative is likely to impress your superiors. And your direct reports as well. They may have problems and questions for you right away, which, if you’re prepared, you may find easier to address. In this way, you’ll appear more confident and professional in your new role.

So, here are tips you might want to try, to make things work best in those very early days

  • Say Hello to Everyone – By making sure you acknowledge each person as a real individual and worthy of your personal greeting and introduction, you will go a long way to being welcomed. Often this is way underrated. Recognising all in your team, at whatever level of contribution they make, is critical in the first moments of your management.
  • Ask Gentle Probing Questions – By finding out what’s important, especially on their real lives (we’ll come to the business shortly), you will build instant rapport. These people need to know you are interested in them and have the ability to see past pure productivity in the business.
  • Listen Hard and Show That You Are a Good Listener – A great way is to hear what you are being told and making eye contact and giving lots of supportive body language/noises really helps. To show you ‘hear’, ask another question whenever you have been told something – there is no stronger way to show that you recognise the individual importance of someone.
  • Be Positive All Day – It’s easy to be critical of whoever was previously in the role. After all, it’s a real easy target. Yet wait. This gives the impression that you are the type to ‘pass the buck’; blame others and above all be insincere. So, stick with positive comments, whilst acknowledging possible shortfalls in the past.
  • Really Hear Complaints and Issues – There will be those who try to get in early and want change for themselves. There will also be those who want to share their frustration with you. It is vital to appreciate what they are saying in a supportive, constructive and yet rather guarded way. On day one, you won’t realise what truth is. Their words will be clouded by assumptions and polarised towards what they have experienced. So, don’t be tempted to ‘fix’ everything from day one. Understand, appreciate and park (though get back to them as you’ve eased yourself in – it is vital to follow through later).
  • Seek Out What’s Good About the Place – Listen and build on what is going right. You may be on the sharp end of complaints and there will be positives they want to share – even if not, look out for them. Seek good performance out wherever it is, however small. Such appreciation will be welcomed as long as it is real and honest.
  • Find Out What People Want to Work Best – A great piece is to ask them what one thing they would like to change about the place they work. Then through the actions you take to resolve, in public, you will start to be really appreciated. This is not a blank check to fix things. Sometimes things can’t be fixed soon, even quickly or even ever. It might just not be possible for one person. What will be valued, will be your explaining to them why not. In fact this is probably a stronger course of action than the quick fix, as it builds trust and the relationship.

Learning your new role

As a new manager, you’ll learn most of what you need to know through on-the-job experience. Realistically, the nature of the position limits the effectiveness of formal training, and experience really is the best way to learn how to be a manager. In addition, more experienced managers are often a great source of wisdom. They’ve been where you are and they’ll likely have a wealth of knowledge to share. You’ll probably find most managers are willing to help you out. And remember, they too are networking to build mutually beneficial relationships.

Learning while on the job is a self-directed approach to achieving successful management skills. As you gain experience, use it to learn about your new role by reflecting on your experience, gathering feedback about your performance, and identifying probable challenges.

Managers need to adopt several new attitudes when approaching their daily work, which includes

  • Set the agenda and priorities of your team, not just yourself – You want to take control here early. Within your first few weeks on the job, you should set up regular one-on-ones with your team and have a shared calendar. You also should quickly align on key goals and milestones – the quicker you can get your entire team pushing toward one goal, the more effective your team will be.
  • Stop doing and start delegating – Almost assuredly, there will be times where you’ll think it would be faster if you did it yourself, as opposed to assigning it to someone else, as you likely are an expert in several areas. Remember that your goal isn’t to do the work yourself, it’s to get the work done through others, that means investing the time to teach them what you know and how to get the job done.
  • Be flexible – when you become a manager, you’ll see employees doing things in different ways than how you did it – and that can be frustrating. If someone is underperforming, you need to intervene. But, by being flexible, you’ll have a much more effective team.
  • Be particularly mindful of how you manage your time – Time management is critical no matter what job you have. But it becomes even more important when you are a manager.

Developing Relationships

It’s not always clear to employees why they need to manage relationships upward unless it’s for political maneuvering or brown-nosing. But it is a valuable skill to know how to consciously work with your boss to obtain the best possible results for you, your boss, and the organization you both work for.

This is important because you and your boss are mutually dependent on one another. Your boss needs your help and cooperation to do his or her job effectively and you need your boss’ support and guidance in doing your job effectively.

We often make either the mistake of seeing ourselves as not very dependent on our bosses or assuming that our bosses will magically know information or help from them without asking for it.

Some new managers are all business and others try to maintain the same level of friendship with co-workers. There’s no magical percentage that will tell you how to balance relationships, but you can find plenty of advice on the subject.

Keep in mind that your role has changed so your relationship with members of your team will, and probably should, change too.

Focusing on individual relationships will typically affect the entire team and can have a negative impact on the morale and performance of other team members.

Instead, you need to focus on developing relationships in a way that will enhance the performance of the entire team. In other words, you need to develop a strong relationship with the team, as a group. You can do this by using group forums whenever possible to direct team efforts for solving problems, providing motivation, and giving support. Directing team efforts in this way will build your relationship with the team and not just certain individuals. It’s imperative that you be equitable when situations and circumstances arise that warrant personal attention or treatment. For instance, don’t celebrate a team member’s success unless you commit to celebrating all similar successes in the same way.

Letting go of your job as an individual contributor is the first thing you need to do to transition successfully into being a manager. Your role as manager is very different. First and foremost, you’re responsible for the work of others – not just your own. Understanding these truths about the role will help you make the transition more easily. Keep these truths in mind as you consider the role of manager: excellent people skills are needed; your power comes from your credibility; you’ll have less freedom and time; most of what you need to know you’ll learn as you gain experience; and it’s more important to develop a strong relationship with the team, rather than focus on individual relationships.

One of the most important career management habits for career success and resiliency is regular attention to building relationships. Mentors, role models, feedback providers and coaches can help us connect, gain support, develop and excel in our careers. There are numerous ways to build relationships. Here are some examples:

  • Observe your colleagues and boss in meetings or other work interactions – What do they do well? What could you learn by watching them or talking with them about their process?
  • Share your career goals with your supervisor and colleagues. Doing so will help your supervisor better understand your desire to work on various projects if you share your reasoning and needs for development.
  • Ask colleagues (former and current), supervisors (former and current), professional contacts, career mentors and coaches, and friends for feedback on your strengths and areas for growth.

Tips for building relationships

  • Know yourself and your goals
  • Learn how to articulate this information clearly and with enthusiasm
  • Listen to others and discover what their goals and skills are – send them information that you come across that they may be interested in
  • Seek others’ feedback, opinions, consultation, and collaboration.
  • Respond to others when asked for feedback, consultation, or collaboration and be generous with reciprocating your time as much as possible to others
  • Keep track of who you want to develop relationships with, who you already have relationships with, and how to reach them
  • Think about the kind of relationship you want with each person in your network – mentoring, informational interviewing, support/encouragement, feedback, introductions to others, information sharing, etc.
  • Update people in your network periodically on your career development
  • Don’t expect any one person to play every possible function in your career development, particularly not your supervisor or spouse/partner – diversify your network
  • Thank people for their time, feedback, and help.
Best Practices for a Effective Manager
Identifying Required Managerial Skills

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