You’ve been working hard to progress your career, and you’ve just been rewarded with that leadership position you’d been hoping for. Whilst this is an incredibly exciting time in your career, it’s also an intimidating one. Becoming a manager can be one of the most stressful experiences you will ever go through.
To help you survive your first month or two on the job, we’ve compiled 20 tips. Designed to help guide you, these are designed for people new to a management role but would be useful for anyone who works in a leadership position.
- Communicate openly, clearly and consistently with your people, your peers and your own manager. Communication is at the core of success in almost every aspect of our lives. Without effective communication, a simple message could turn into a misunderstanding or even disaster just by being misinterpreted or poorly delivered. Communication is essential for humans to create and share ideas, information, feelings, facts, views and emotions.
- Encourage and practice frequent 2-way communication, taking care to be a good listener and show that you value the opinions of your people. Whilst you are in many ways the leader, you are still part of a team. A good line manager listens to the opinions of the whole team and makes sure decisions are made collectively. It’s important that you foster healthy (professional) relationships with your people.
- Set a good example and be a great role model. You now represent the role that you used to aspire to, so people are now looking up to you. Whilst this can seem intimidating, you’ve earned it and you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t ready. Just remember that your actions have more impact than ever before.
- Ask people for their input before making decisions and not the other way around. It’s crucial that your people feel heard and valued, not just asked as a courtesy. Take care to not assume you are always right just because you are the manager.
- Be decisive and demonstrate leadership and clear direction. As a line manager, it does come down to you when teams are struggling with decisions or unable to agree. Ultimately, you’ve been selected to lead this team, and so the final say usually comes down to you. Don’t be afraid to make tough decisions when necessary.
- Help your team see the ‘big picture’. As a leader, it’s your job to help your people understand how what they do connects to the larger picture of the organisation’s goals and success. When they have a bigger perspective, they can be more effective.
- Create an environment of constant learning and development and make sure you include yourself (you still have a lot to learn). Your people will feel valued and will work harder if they feel that their learning and development is being invested in. Look at everything you’ve achieved, it’s time for you to pass this knowledge on. If you foster a healthy learning environment, everyone will perform better. You’ve got a lot to learn too, whilst you may be very skilled, you are, by definition, a new manager, with lots to learn about management. Whether that be from your own manager or the people around you, always keep an open mind.
- Provide professional guidance. As a leader, you will find yourself in many ways a coach.
- Aim to build trust with the people you lead. Trust is crucial to maintaining a healthy working environment. Your people need to feel safe to bring matters to you. Often in confidence. It’s your job to ensure everyone is comfortable at work.
- Be prepared for possible hostility from your new subordinates but don’t be defensive. Sometimes people will be slightly hostile to new managers. This is because they don’t yet know how you will lead and whether they can trust you. It’s important you are confident in your abilities, but not defensive. You need to earn each other’s trust.
- Build relationships with your line management peers and don’t hesitate to ask for their advice. Especially in the beginning, you’re going to be overwhelmed. Get to know the people who have been where you are.
- Make allies of the departments or units that serve or support your function.
- Value people and be sure to give praise where it is deserved. We all value praise and recognition, your subordinates will perform better if they know their hard work gets recognised.
- Empower your people to take responsibility for their own jobs. You’re a manager and a leader, but that doesn’t mean everything should fall into your lap. Motivate and inspire your teams to value their roles.
- Believe in and encourage teamwork.
- Focus on the customer and ensure that your people do the same (this applies to internal and external customers).
- Get to know your employees as people.
- React to problems and issues so that they do not fester and grow. Staying on top of things will benefit everyone in the long run. Sometimes problems and issues can mean difficult conversations, and as a line manager, these will often fall to you.
- Treat all employees fairly and equally.
- Be cautious and don’t rush into criticising current operating procedures or making dramatic changes in operations. You’ll probably have some ideas about things you want to change, and that’s a positive thing. However, earning people’s trust and settling into the position is important before any drastic changes happen. When you do begin to make changes, try to involve the people who work in the environment that you’re going to change.
Hopefully, with these tips in mind, you can tackle your new position head-on, and get through those first weeks. Whilst they’re designed to help you adjust to the position, they can serve you throughout your entire time as a leader. If you’re looking to take it a step further and want to develop others to become great leaders, our affordable and comprehensive materials below might be exactly what you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for content to develop those that are leading a team virtually, learn more about our Leading Virtual Teams e-learning here.
Finally, our ability to help people become great managers doesn’t end here. Our affordable and extensive range of management training resources can be found here.