Your first management job is a big step up.
You’ve obviously been doing something right up to this point, but your success now relies on not just your results but those of your team. And at the same time you feel like the pressure’s on to impress your boss and prove he was right to take a chance and make you a first-time manager.
It’s a tough gig that takes patience and grit, but these five tips will have you managing like you were born to lead.
Get to know your team
First and foremost, get to know your team. Arrange a short chat with each of them individually to discuss what they’ve been working on, how they like to work, what they excel at, how they like to be managed, etc and answer any questions they have. It’ll help you gauge the knowledge and skills each of them brings to the table.
This is your opportunity to learn (and remember!) the name of your colleagues. Constantly asking to be reminded of someone’s name is unprofessional and just looks like you don’t care.
You should also take an interest in your team beyond work-related matters. Ask about their weekend, their interests, their hobbies, etc. It’ll make for a more relaxed, healthy working environment and you might just find some shared passions.
Being a manager means being able to delegate responsibility, but this isn’t a licence to start dropping all of your unpleasant tasks on your team.
You need to assess who has the skills to deal with the task most effectively, set out concrete goals and deadlines and establish what you plan to do with the results.
This also doesn’t mean, that you should delegate all of your work and spend the day in meetings. Show your employees that you’re putting in the hours too.
No one likes a micromanager
It can be tempting to constantly check up on your team to know what they’re doing and when it’ll be finished but you need to respect their autonomy and trust them to do their job.
Of course that doesn’t mean you can just leave them to it either – an absentee manager is as bad as an overbearing one. Make sure everyone’s clear about the tasks and goals you’ve set and encourage them to ask questions if they’re unsure.
It might help to use some online collaboration software, like Basecamp, to keep an audit trail of what’s being done and when,which will also help if your boss wants a progress report. Also have regular (but not too regular) update meetings so you can have a two way discussion with your team about progress and development.
Have an open door policy – ensure your team know that they can come to you with any questions, issues and ideas they have – and accept responsibility for mistakes your team makes. Even if you delegate a task you still have ultimate responsibility for it.
You should also arrange regular (maybe every month or two) individual feedback sessions so you can give praise where it’s due and pick up on weaker areas.
Also, if one member of your team has an issue or isn’t pulling their weight, don’t just go to your boss and ask them to deal with it. Instead, be proactive and arrange a meeting with the employee to talk through the problem, it may well be something that can be resolved without needing to involve higher management. Plus, you’ll earn your team’s respect and impress your boss.
Go above and beyond
Don’t just complete the task set by your boss and then wait for the next one; find something in the business that doesn’t work as well as it could and find a way to do it better.
Save the company money by suggesting a new vendor or by suggesting a new piece of technology to get you and your team working more efficiently.
Automating some of your paperwork with a self-service HR system, for instance, means that each member of your team has responsibility for their own administrivia, but you still get full approval. So you’re still in control but you’re free to spend more time being an awesome manager.
Hat tip to photosteve101 for the image.