Advice for New Managers

You may have lived your whole life believing your goal should be to become a leader of your organization. You work hard to achieve results in your functional area of work until you are recognized for your mastery and get the opportunity to manage people. You are the best salesperson on the team, your engineering skills far exceed any of your peers, or perhaps the accuracy and quickness of your reporting makes you an easy choice for a promotion. You’re extremely excited but you have never managed people before. You have worked for people you’ve liked and others you have liked and respected. You’re not quite sure about what you are going to do as a manager to be successful other than emulate those past managers, but clearly that is not enough. You recognize that your successful skills in your functional area are not the same requirements of a person responsible for the management of others.

As new managers, there is an assumption you know what to do and how to do it. It’s not an easy job, so before you become totally frustrated and unhappy because you can’t get the results your boss is looking for, consider some of these tips:

1.  Get some help from your company by requesting a coach, preferably someone who has worked with new managers. At the very least, ask for an internal mentor recognized by everyone in the company as an effective manager of people. Make sure your mentor has the time to help you.

2.  Listen, ask questions, look for feedback, and recognize that no one is perfect at managing people; it is a learned attribute.

3.  One of the hardest growth opportunities is to go from an individual producer to a manager. Learn from your experiences, both bad and good, and realize this is a journey requiring continuous learning through listening, observation, and self-reflection.

4.  A manager’s goal is not to be disliked, liked, or everyone’s best friend, but a manager absolutely needs to be respected.

5.  There are some critical attributes and characteristics universal to successful managers. First - your integrity should never be questioned. Second - be honest about yourself and honest with others.

6.  Be a good listener and don’t feel the need to react right away. Instead, reflect and if needed, ask more questions, seek advice, and carefully weigh all your options. Keep in mind the best interest of the company and individuals you are working with.

7.  Make sure everyone that works for you has clear expectations:

o   how their performance is going to be measured

o   you are available to help (and offer training if needed)

o   you will hold people accountable for actions and outcomes

8.  Delegate as much as you can to people that work for you with clear expectations, time frames for completion, and touch points along the way to insure they are on track. Give them as much authority as possible so they can learn and grow.  

9.  Invite the group that reports to you to come together often to work collectively on how to improve processes and outcomes.

10.  Meet with people on a regular basis to see how they are doing and to connect with them personally.

11.  Be sensitive to everyone’s needs and try to accommodate them without jeopardizing priorities and outcomes.

12.  Learn to resolve conflict but don’t be too quick to jump in and solve other people’s issues. Even though they work for you, give them the freedom to figure things out.

13.  At the end of the day, you will be required to make judgments and decisions. Your new job will have a profound effect on others so take your responsibility very seriously and do the very best you can.