You’ve landed your first job as a manager. Congratulations!!! This accomplishment is a big win, an opportunity to increase your sphere of influence, and a step forward on your career path. It is also the first time that your success will be completely tied to the performance of other people.
Those people may be former colleagues or some of your closest workplace friends. Some of them may be more experienced than you or may even have competed for the manager job you got. Now that you are the boss, the relationship feels a little strange.
So what do you do? Allow me to offer a few tips to help you to succeed as a new manager.
You Are Not YODA
You were promoted to a manager role because of your individual success on the job, but being a manager requires more than a team of one. A manager is not expected to excel individually or to be alone expert—that’s what you have a team for. Your job, as a manager, is to direct your team toward the tools and resources to get the job done.
You also have the opportunity to shape careers and lives by mentoring members of your team. Managers who show interest in their team by providing career-related mentoring are typically admired more and rated higher. Regular monthly meetings that provide positive and developmental feedback to team members is just one way to offer your support. Mentoring helps you to become a more effective manager by fostering relationships with your team that establish credibility and earn you respect.
Be the North Star
As a manager, team members look to you to be decisive in providing direction and support. It is your job to ensure your team understands the big picture and stays focused on job-related goals. If you flip-flop on decisions, your team will lose trust in your ability to lead. They will question if you are making informed judgments, if you are leading with emotion, or if you are prepared to handle your manager role.
Keep you team fully informed by communicating project goals, priorities, and deadlines. Effective communication is essential to establish credibility and gain the trust of your team. Communication should be frequent, clear, and two-way, welcoming questions and feedback.
Developing strong managerial and leadership skills takes time, especially when you are adjusting to a new position. Seek guidance from colleagues, your manager, and your professional network. In doing so, you will enhance your leadership skills and your professionalism as a manager.
Do the Lean Walk and Talk
Use the principles of lean methodology to eliminate waste. Be observant and look for ways to introduce efficiencies into daily operations. Actions, such as discontinuing an ineffective, time-consuming daily meeting or eliminating a repetitive documentation step, can produce time and cost savings and demonstrate that you are looking out for your team.
Consistently walk the talk. Model the same level of professionalism and commitment that you expect from others. If you want your team to be outgoing and friendly, then make sure you are. If you expect written reports to be error free, then double check your own work. If you require people to be on time, ensure that you are punctual. Set the example that you want your team to follow.
The Whole is Greater Than the Sum of the Parts
It is essential to have a well-oiled team in place to deliver outcomes. Creating a team that is greater than the sum of its parts is, to some extent, a function of leadership. The culture you craft as a leader, how you motivate and inspire team members, and your leadership style and management abilities all contribute to creating a well-oiled team.
Instil in team members a sense of belonging and pride in the work they do. This can be accomplished by giving the right person the right job or one that is aligned with their strengths. Hire talent and give them the right roles. In other words, surround yourself with brilliant people with diverse perspectives, and then organize them in a way that leads to WOW outcomes.
Create a culture that encourages openness and the sharing of ideas. Make your team members part of the decision-making and planning processes. If you are going to have stars on your team, then delegate responsibility and empower them to make decisions. Recognize individual examples of outstanding initiative and performance.
Encourage team members to take smart and calculated risks. As you gain experience with your team, you will want to challenge the boundaries of their comfort zone to build trust and advance the team’s self-reliance. This will enable higher level outcomes to be achieved.
I hope you find these tips to be useful as you experience the world of management and leadership. Best of luck to you.