There are some who seek out power and responsibility, and some who have responsibility and power thrust upon them. Regardless of where on the spectrum you fall, as a new manager, there’s a lot to learn, new habits to build, and most of the time there isn’t a warm-up period. Most managers are expected to hit the ground running because business is business. Gotta keep the machine going, right?
But it’s not always as seamless as that, and there are often a lot of feelings, fears, and anxieties that can get dredged up as you get promoted and add even more to your plate. Work—as we have said before and will continue to shout from the rooftops—does not exist in an emotionless vacuum, so personal and professional support is paramount as you move through this transition. In that vein, here is our list of the most important things to do as a new manager:
Change your mindset to focus on leadership. It’s likely that you got this promotion, became a manager of a team with more responsibility because you are a high-performing badass. Your individual contributions and the contributions to your team have been noticed and this is your reward. But now you can’t only be a high-performing badass on your own.
Being a leader means shifting your mindset from being your most successful self to doing everything you can to make your direct reports their most successful selves. It’s a big change, but this is the basis of your new role and being successful starts with your perspective.
Delegate! This is the practical twin of changing your mindset. Now that your focus is on getting results through other people, you have to actually do it. And don’t be discouraged if it feels difficult. Delegating is a habit to practice just like anything else because it takes actual skill to learn how to effectively work through other people.
Especially if you are someone who is used to getting things done on your own timeframe and at your own high level of productivity, don’t shy away from delegation just because it is “easier.” Don’t forget the art of the kickback when your team delivers substandard work.
Stay flexible + customize your approach. Every person is different. Despite what the corporate machine has tried to drill into us, we cannot work separately from who we are. As a leader, it is your responsibility to understand that the people who work for you will have different developmental levels, motivations, values, working styles, and expectations from you. If you want your team to be effective, you’ll need to take the time to understand each person on your team so you can customize your style.
This also goes beyond just your team, but as a manager, you’ll be expected to handle crises that come up and work on cross-functional teams, all of which requires flexibility on your part to work with all kinds of people.
Know yourself. We buried the lead here because, in order to do any of the above, you have to first understand your own working style. You need to know how others in the office see you; you need to know what your working style is and prepare your expectations for how you’ll react when things don’t go well. Without the basic understanding of yourself as an employee, team member, and leader, there is no way you can effectively work with others.
Part of the unspoken expectation of managers is that they will be role models for those below them on the company food chain. If you’re not taking care of yourself by knowing yourself and what you need, there is no way that you can be a good example for those you work with. You are now a representation of the company and the potential growth for those on your team, and if they don’t want to be like you, you need to know why.
Being a new manager can open up so many opportunities for growth and development, but it also has the potential to close off those opportunities if you don’t handle the responsibility well. These four tips for new managers are important for you to employ to start the right way, and if you feel like you need more support and you want to make sure you get it right, give us a call.
Nora is a co-founder of Happy Spectacular, which she still can't really believe, and she's on a lifelong quest for the world's best cheeseburger (applicants accepted).