Stepping into a leadership position as a first time manager can be quite an intimidating, and overwhelming experience. Like most new jobs, it’s normal to feel a little uncertain about next steps, however, it’s now up to you to find what works best for you and for your team.
Effective management is a key factor of any successful business. When people are chosen for a leadership role, it’s typically reflective of their work ethic, performance and their ability to help others both directly and indirectly. It’s really a testament to the potential that you harness to effectively increase employee engagement, and performance - the ability to drive success in a team.
Although at first it may feel like you’re flying blind - there are some hard and fast tips of becoming a manager that are tried and true for building successful teams.
1. Understand the business
Whether you were promoted from without or are an outside hire, it’s essential that you get to know the business and company that you work for. From the time you step into your office, you need to be prepared to address any questions from your employees while considering the bigger company picture.
Not sure where to start as a new manager? Read all of the manuals, HR documents, employee resumes, and training booklets you can. Seek out senior leaders in your company and spend some time with them. Look up management books, and do your research online. Regardless of all the preparation you can do, it's still critical to know when to ask for help or clarification.
2. Set goals using the SMART framework
As you get to know your direct reports, it’s a good idea to start setting quality goals as soon as possible. Using the SMART goal setting approach allows your team to break a goal down to more manageable subsections.
Employees’ goals should tie in with companies objectives, and should seek to involve them in the process. This methodological approach provides many benefits to managers, as it encourages productivity, improved time management, and motivation. The SMART acronym stands for:
Specific - clearly define what needs to be achieved.
Measurable - specify what criteria needs to be met to show the goal is completed.
Achievable - ensure that the goal is challenging, but attainable.
Realistic - must be achievable given the resources and timeframe available.
Time bound - set a definite deadline for completion.
3. Be an example for your team
Now that you’re the manager, it’s up to you to create the team culture. All of your decisions, actions, even your tone and attitude have an impact on employee performance and engagement. Start practicing being extra mindful of your emotions and reactions to complex situations.
Setting an example as a new manager also requires you to still take part in the “dirty work” that helped you succeed in the first place. Keep an eye on the day to day activities, and take advantage of opportunities to show your team that you’re willing to go the extra mile to help them succeed.
4. Embrace the value of feedback (both giving and receiving)
With the title of manager, comes the responsibility of feedback - both giving and receiving, positive and otherwise. As you are now responsible for the productivity of your team, your job is to guide your employees through obstacles with candor while celebrating hard work and productivity.
Likewise, employees should always be given the opportunity to provide frequent feedback on your management. Although consistent feedback on your job performance may appear scary, it is necessary to grow within the role of manager. Using weekly and anonymous employee surveys are an easy way to assess the health of your team and your performance .
5. Avoid micromanaging at all costs
When first starting out, it may seem like an easy strategy to manage your whole team in the same fashion - but it can have detrimental implications on motivation and productivity. The people that you work with have been hired for a reason - they’re smart and know how to get their work done.
As a manager, learning and leveraging employees’ strengths and work style can be one of the biggest investments made as you continue learning your own role. Everyone on the team has different productivity styles, aspirations, and motivations. To adapt each individual’s role to their unique work methods yields much greater rates of productivity.
6. Prioritize 1-on-1 meetings
There aren’t many people who want more meetings to add to their work week - but for new managers especially, it’s a necessity to touch base with your team and keep track of their work progress. Utilize this time to update them on information that pertains to their work, and hear how their projects are coming along, or if they’re struggling in any way. 1-on-1’s are also a great time to brainstorm future goals and routes of success.
In addition to staying up to date on employees’ work progress, these meetings are a fantastic way to build rapport and foster a connection with each employee. Face to face time (even virtually) is a critical component of building a relationship grounded in trust which adds to the company culture.
7. Always work on your communication skills
A leader of people will always have to have their ear to the ground, as conflicts and miscommunication happen frequently - especially in a large workplace. Prioritize active listening (especially during 1-on-1 meetings), listen to what your team has to say, and ensure that you are reading between the lines.
Oftentimes it seems that managers wear many different hats. As people are very complex, so are the ways in which they interact with others. Managers need to be fluent in negotiation, recognition, coaching, presenting, interviewing and finding resolutions when problems arise. This ensures that even when problems arise, the foundations of trust and respect of which your culture is built, don’t falter.
Becoming an effective and inspiring leader takes some time, regardless of how well prepared you think you are - but, it is definitely possible. If you’re a first time manager and are looking for ways to simplify day to day operations, try simplteam for free.