Being promoted to your first management position is exciting–but it can be difficult. The transition from employee to first-time manager (FTM) is riddled with challenges, everything from establishing yourself as a strong but approachable leader to doing your own work and also managing a team efficiently. Studies have shown that 47 percent of managers don’t receive any training when they take a new leadership role.
“Becoming a manager is one of the most stressful and challenging transitions in any career,” writes William Gentry, author of Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For: A Guide for New Leaders. “But when you become a manager, everything about your job needs to change–your skill-set, the nature of your work relationships, your understanding of what “work” is, and how you see yourself and your organization. You have to operate from a brand new script, one that’s about “we”–ensuring collective success,” he concludes.
I agree completely. And I’d like to share five tips from my new book, The New Global Manager (available Summer 2018) to help first-time managers move into this new leadership role.
1.Give timely and constructive feedback.
A good manager provides employees with feedback about his or her performance. Learn to use your observational and communication skills to help your team understand what they do well and where they need to improve.
Tip: Keep two things in mind–first, make sure you’re clear in your intention. Tell the recipient the purpose of your comments, whether it is to grow, improve their image, or protect them. Second, don’t talk about hearsay or feelings. Stick to observable facts.
2. Empower the team and don’t micromanage.
You empower your team when you establish clear communication and expectations. As Gordon Treegold, founder and CEO of Leadership Principles writes, “…empowering people and giving them the opportunity to contribute and to solve problems opens us up to the collective knowledge we have…”
Tip: Take the time to learn your team members’ strengths and weaknesses and then let go. Begin to delegate work to them, and provide subtle direction if needed. But allow them to handle the project in their own way within the established parameters.
3. Express interest and concern for your team.
Showing an employee you care is an integral part of building rapport and stable working relationships with your team members. “Employees who feel valued and appreciated by their leaders are infinitely more likely to go above and beyond for the company and hold themselves accountable for their part of a project,” writes John Hall in an article for Forbes.
Tip: “Listen with your full attention directed toward understanding what your coworker or staff member needs from you,” writes Susan M. Heathfield, “Many managers, especially, are so used to helping people solve problems that their first course of action is to begin brainstorming solutions and giving advice.”
Your team may need to know you are really hearing them before you supply solutions. Make sure you understand what the person is telling you and reflect back the information you believe you have heard during the conversation.
4. Model a productive and results-oriented mindset.
Developing a productive and results-oriented mindset in your organization can yield increased job satisfaction and engagement levels and reduce turnover. By modeling this mindset for your team, you start that process.
Tip: Create results-oriented goals for yourself and for your team and model what working on projects where you can measure results looks like. Turn everything you do into a case study and sit down with your team to review and measure the results you have obtained. Give your team results-oriented goals and encourage them to find ways to measure and report on their outcomes.
5. Be a good communicator and share information.
A manager doesn’t have to be dynamic and charming–just highly communicative and transparent. Let your team know to anticipate changes, let them know what’s happening in your management meetings, and provide company updates. The more you communicate, the more trust will be built and the team will see you as an ally instead of an authoritarian.
Tip: Use part of your team meetings to discuss strategy and bigger goals for the organization as a whole. Take questions from your team members. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answer, but will do your best to find out.
If you are a first-time, newly-minted manager: Congratulations! You will be amazing. Take the five tips I have just described and use them in your new position. You will find each of them valuable as you negotiate this new chapter of your life.
And join my community to get first dibs on my new book for managers, due out later this year.