8 Tips for First-Time Managers to Hit the Ground Running
Excited and terrified—these might be the two main emotions you’re feeling as a first-time manager. While all first-time managers make mistakes, a little preparation goes a long way towards helping you hit the ground running.
Below we have eight straightforward new manager tips to help you bond with your reports, impress your new supervisor and set an example that will inspire your team to succeed.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- Do Your Research
- Shift Your Focus
- Manage Relationship Shifts
- Establish Trust
- Set Clear Goals
- Consistency Is Key
- Set an Example
- Manage Up
1. Do Your Research
Don’t walk into your first day as a manager blind. Come in prepared by learning everything you can about the new role and the new skills you’ll need ahead of time, advises The Muse. Ask about training opportunities. Perhaps your business has a first-time managers training program or other tools, resources and classes.
Read all manuals and HR documents at your disposal. You’ll also want to learn about all your reports. Review at length their resumes, personnel files, goals and past performance reviews.
2. Shift Your Focus
People who become managers for the first time often find this shift difficult: not doing an outstanding job on your tasks, but helping other people do an outstanding job on their tasks.
This is your new role as a manager: making sure your team succeeds. Your performance will be judged on whether they succeed (or fail), advises Penelope Trunk. And when they do succeed, make sure you share the credit with everyone on your team or else face mutiny down the line.
3. Manage Relationship Shifts
If you’ve been promoted from within, the power shift with your team can prove uncomfortable, especially if you’re closer to some of the team members than others.
Forget one-on-one after-dinner drinks and closed-door chats. You must treat all members of your team equally. And whether they’re your friend or not, someone is bound to feel resentful that you were promoted instead of them.
True leadership means addressing the awkwardness head on. Tell them honestly that you really value them but your work relationship has to change so you can be fair to the team as a whole. They may not agree, but making this relationship shift clear will ensure you and your team have a fair shot at success.
4. Establish Trust
It’s important to set professional boundaries. But you also need to get to know your employees on a personal level in order to build trust, advises Fast Company.
Take the time to chat with them briefly about their hobbies, life goals and anything else going on outside of work. This will not only breed good will but help you understand your team members better and harness their best qualities and passions.
Here’s another strategy: have regular one-on-one check ins and don’t cancel them. You might also want to set office hours so employees can pop in with questions. Your employees want one-on-one time with you. It’s also a great opportunity to keep an eye on their progress towards the goals.
Ask them about challenges they’re facing and ideas they have to improve matters. It’s important to listen to your employees. As a new boss, you might be tempted to start out with some bold moves. Show your team first that you care about their ideas and incorporate them into your plans.
5. Set Clear Goals
Setting clear goals will give your employees focus and also help you do your performance reviews, says Fast Company. A clear goal is not “better customer service” but “average of 9/10 satisfaction on customer feedback surveys in Q1.” Removing the subjectivity from goals will help motivate employees and give you clear-cut guidelines when evaluating their performance.
6. Consistency Is Key
Don’t waver on decisions or change how you make decisions. Be consistent so your team feels confident in your ability to lead, advises Entrepreneur. You don’t want your team to think you aren’t making informed decisions, are letting your emotions rule you or are just plain not up to the job.
To be consistent, be patient. Leadership means taking the time you need to make the right decision. Hold off on responding to emails and don’t cave to demands to “make a decision here and now.” Take a coffee break to think things over or draft an email and come back to it the next day. Some staff may not enjoy your leisurely ways, but in the end your considerate take on decision making will benefit everyone.
7. Set an Example
As the manager, your team is going to look to you for how to behave. You need to show them what values are key, how to tackle challenges and how to handle adversity.
Forget complaining about your boss during after-work drinks, missing deadlines, going back on your word, spewing personal opinions or showing up to work or meetings late. You need to really get on your A game.
The best strategy is to be patient and keep your emotions in check, advises Entrepreneur. Don’t be reactive. Slow down and get all the information before making a decision. Your team will come to admire you and try to model their own behavior on yours.
8. Manage Up
Being a manager isn’t just about managing down, it’s also about managing up. You need to keep your supervisor constantly in the loop because now you’re not reporting on your own performance, you’re reporting on the performance of a team of people, advises The Muse.
Set up regular one-on-ones with your supervisor to discuss your boss’s goals and priorities so you can make sure you’re focusing on the right things. This way, when you’re reporting on your goals, the team’s successes and any issues, what you’re talking about is aligning with your boss’s needs and the needs of the organization as a whole.
People also ask:
- How Do You Prepare to Be a Manager?
- What Should a New Manager Do on the First Day?
- How Do You Become a Top Manager?
How Do You Prepare to Be a Manager?
If you’re thinking about how to prepare to be a manager, you’re already on the path to success. Preparation is key.
Here is a new manager checklist that will help you get where you want to go, fast:
- Broadcast your aspirations. Let the right people know you want to become a manager. They can work with you to help you learn what you need to know and get the right skills to get the job. That said, you don’t need to let everyone know your intentions to the point of being obnoxious.
- Get feedback. Take advantage of your one on ones with your boss to ask for feedback on how you’re meeting goals, how you manage people and how well you respond to stress and conflict. A manager must be open to advice and be seen to act on it, so start sharpening this skill now. Ask your co-workers for their opinion, too.
- Be indispensable. Hit those numbers (and then some). Don’t be shy about presenting your accomplishments to your boss, either. Prove and demonstrate your worth.
- Learn. You’ll need new skills as a manager. You also want to stay on the cutting edge of industry trends. Be a leader by upping the skills you already have and adding new ones to your cadre.
- Take on new responsibilities. Offer to shoulder some of your boss’s work while he’s away. Suggest new initiatives.
What Should a New Manager Do on the First Day?
Here are five tips for new managers on their first day:
- Refine your first day speech. It’s not important to focus on your past achievements or comment on the team’s past performance in your speech. Keep it short and focus on greeting everyone individually. Focus on putting everyone at ease, as your new team is probably nervous about your arrival. Smile, learn names, pay attention.
- Book one-on-one meetings. Book individual meetings with each of your reports for as soon as possible so you can better understand their strengths, ideas and concerns.
- Host a Q&A. Give staff the chance to ask you questions so they see communication is a two-way street and put them at ease. Also, think about hosting a catered lunch where you set up a table and invite staff to come over to chat one on one.
- Dress like everyone else. Take notes from previous visits to the office and don’t dress more formally or casually than the rest of the staff.
- Meet with your direct reports. Take the time to say hello and introduce yourself, if you haven’t met them already. Ask them about their role, say how excited you are for this new role and quiz them about their expectations for your first 30 days.
How Do You Become a Top Manager?
Here are five tips to become a top manager:
- Empower your team. Micromanaging staff will leave them feeling powerless and frustrated. Delegate tasks based on the strengths of each team member and then trust them to do their job. This is a real sign of an effective leader.
- Learn your craft. Great managers aren’t born overnight, they spend years honing their craft. Take advantage of your local library to read up on management skills, listen to podcasts relevant to your industry, check in regularly with influential blogs and social media accounts and take online courses to develop specific skills.
- Spend quality time with your employees. Make sure your staff have regular one-on-one time with you where you just focus on them. Put away your devices, don’t answer your phone and really listen to what the person in front of you is saying. This will develop trust and help you motivate them to get things done.
- Reward employees. Grand gestures aren’t necessary. There are many cheap or free ways to reward employees who meet their goals or do outstanding work. A face-to-face thank you or a company-wide email may be all you need to make an employee feel valued.
- Don’t be a firefighter. Don’t be known as the person always running around putting out fires. Deal with the root of the problem. Find long-term solutions to recurrent problems. Eschew the quick fix and put the time and energy into finding a permanent solution.