The first steps taken as a manager can be a mixture of fear, uncertainty and excitement – especially daunting if the step up means having to manage the team in which you were previously a team member yourself. Unfortunately, like driving a car, a lot of management is learnt by doing, which is why so many new managers get into bad habits early on – ‘coping mechanisms’ – which are then much harder to break, and become institutionalised dysfunctional behaviours.
Here are our Top 10 things every new manager needs to know:
1. They’re not your mates anymore. One of the toughest steps is managing the ‘gap’ needed to be an effective manager without losing the trust and respect of your old colleagues – you can be professional without being personal
2. Manage your manager. A vital part of learning to manage is developing the ‘upward’ relationship with your manager; this requires you to balance your focus appropriately between your direct reports and the senior manager
3. Get organised. Get diaries (on-line or hard-copy), a to-do list (try something like Trello) and put aside planning time on a regular basis, at least once a week if not daily.
Remember; ‘Plans are nothing – planning is everything’
4. Manage your e-mails. Don’t let them manage you. Aim to touch every e-mail once and to leave your inbox empty by the end of each day – it is achievable.
5. Coping with change. Understand how the different stages of change affect different people differently. You will need to adapt your approach depending of the needs of individuals and the team as a whole – see next point.
6. One size doesn’t fit all. If the only tool in your tool-box is a hammer – you will treat everything as if it’s a nail! Learn how to flex your management style for different circumstances and if one approach isn’t very effective try something different.
7. Have a vision. Manager or Leader? A crucial part of the manager’s role is to present a clear vision to the team for direction, focus and motivation. If you don’t have one – see point 2 above.
8. Set SMART objectives. Make sure that both you and your team member(s) know exactly what’s expected of them and that it will be monitored and reviewed at the agreed deadline and measured by the agreed standards.
9. Set standards. One of the most common weaknesses for new managers is not being clear what the appropriate standards are for both; Performance and Behaviour. Get clear on both of these and ensure your team have clarity too.
10. Coach! Managers who invest time in developing their people (and spend as much time on ‘inputs’ as ‘outputs’) get real performance improvements as well as increased engagement with their people. Top tip – label the session ‘Coaching’ and ‘Signpost’ it – it makes all the difference