11 Practical Tips for New Managers

October 19, 2015

Becoming a manager for the first time and finding yourself newly responsible for the successes and failures of a team of people will arguably be one of the most terrifying periods in your professional life. You’ll have been promoted because of the quality of your performances at a more junior level, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that you feel as though you have the confidence or knowhow to competently lead a team of people, some of whom might be older or more experienced than you.

Your role might include everything from project management to general overseeing on a daily basis to actively coaching your team to improve their performance. These practical tips can help you negotiate the minefield of new seniority and ensure that your first role as a manager is a positive experience.

Invest in formal training

There’s no shame in seeking help – it shows a commitment to your role and responsibilities. If there is a period between leaving your former role and taking up your new one, use that time to attend a course or something similar to get a head start on a new way of working. This will enable you to hit the ground running as soon as you begin.

Nip bad behaviour in the bud

After taking on your new role, you might have a team member or two acting out. They might be testing you out to see what sort of boss you’re going to be, so you need to ensure you tackle it in a positive manner straightaway or risk losing the respect of the team.

Balance past relationships with new positions

You might suddenly find that you’re in charge of people who were your co-workers and friends last week but whom you now have to lead. You need to balance that friendly relationship with your new status so they don’t think they can take advantage of you. You’ve been promoted to deliver results, and that can’t happen if you’re still Mr/Ms. Sociable.

Be decisive

Don’t flip between two ways of doing something, because your team won’t know which way they should approach certain tasks – sticking with one methodology ensures that they know where they stand and what you’re expecting from them.

Be available

There may well be times when you’re out of the office at meetings or exhibitions, which can’t be helped, but when you’re in the office you should ensure that you’re always available to help team members out when they need you. This strengthens your relationship with them and helps them to develop.

Do not interfere too directly

One of the temptations for any manager or leader can be to jump in and handle things themselves if they feel things aren’t progressing well. If this is the case, in nine cases out of ten you should leave things as they are – sometimes the only way a person can develop in a positive way is to fail. This will also enable them to learn accountability for their mistakes. This cannot happen if you keep saving the day.

Celebrate success

Morale is an important thing to maintain throughout your team, and a great way of doing so is to recognise when a project has gone well and reward those involved accordingly. Even if you just send an internal email to the team highlighting the achievement, this will go a long way toward strengthening the team’s bond.

Tailor your approach to each team member

Never assume that the way you interact and manage one team member can be replicated with another. People respond in different ways to various methods of management, so you have to think about the way you approach the management of each person.

Don’t neglect team development

Companies that put the focus on employees and encourage them to develop their professional skills are the companies that employees decide they want to stay with. With this in mind, you should ensure that your team has every opportunity it needs to learn and develop both inside and outside of the office.

Emphasise communication

There’s no quicker way for a team to fall apart than when they fail to communicate, and this goes for you as leader, too. If nobody talks to each other then this creates logistical problems, but if you don’t talk to them then they don’t know what they’re expected to do, what success looks like, when tasks have to be completed by and so on. They should know everything the company is doing, everything the client is doing and how this affects their work (if relevant).

Always reflect

The project might be finished, but your work isn’t. It’s important to always look for ways to improve your team’s work for future projects, so once you’ve completed something you should make sure you assess it for both positives and negatives. This will inform the way you approach future tasks in a more efficient and successful way.

Your first management job will never be smooth sailing, but by reflecting and tweaking your approach at regular intervals, you will be able to grow into the role and become a major positive influence over your team and co-workers.

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