When they make you a manager/leader
Being a manager is a full-time job, helping and guiding your people to finishing their tasks on time - goals and priorities, task list, responsibilities chart, team meetings, checklists, meetings with other stakeholders, as well as outside people, work progress reports, conflict management, problem solving...you will like it, for sure.
You also have to build trust and credibility fast.
- Research the job: And the company, if it is a new job. Look at the tasks, and also the best practices related to the job in the industry. Know the main problems and objectives of the company. (Please also read 'new job guide')
- Look at your team: See who's responsible for what, work history of each member, and current status of the project. Don't make assumptions and alliances on basis of first impressions: Take your time. You are not there to make friends. Trust but verify first.
- Work with them, but keep a distance: This is very important. Much of management work is about taking a 'big picture' look at things (strategy, mission), so please don't get yourself involved in aspect of the team's work.
A lot of management is about standing back from the detail and seeing the 'big picture' of what is happening, so that you can make strategic decisions about how to act.
- Create a 'priority items' lists asap, your main goals/objectives in this new role. Write this in your home, where you will have some better perspective. Some new managers start with a 90-days plan. You may think up a list of things and schedule along the same lines. For example, in the first 30 days, know all you can about the work, the company, the team etc. (and get some personal skills to be on level). In the next 30 days, put your learning to use, pacing the team (and yourself) , and in the next 30 days, start to implement your plans.
- Look for 'quick wins': Focus on at least one business area where you think you can quickly get some good work done (to impress people and establish authority)
- Start a small test project in your chosen priority area to see how things turn out, and use the learning to finish the big job successfully.
- Handle any problems as quickly as possible: Don't wait when a new problem appears. or else it will become a bigger problem. This helps build credibility. People like a problem-solver.
- Give constructive feedback: Don't let the pressure of the new job make you appear very 'emotional'. Focus on getting the work done on time. Look for problems that need to be solved immediately, instead of fixating on some team member not performing well.
- Get your schedule right: Prioritize your tasks. Some managers have 'hour by hour' schedules. Try to finish the important tasks (that will bring in most benefits) first, and adjust other tasks around them.
- Point out any wrong thing immediately: Let them know what they are doing wrong and suggest ways to right it asap.
- Admit when you make mistakes: Being new to the job, mistakes are expected (not knowing the way, poor advice from people etc). Just let them know you messed up, explain what and how your were wrong. This openness helps build trust.
- Don't change everything quickly: Go slow (but steady) with changing long-time work patterns at the new job. You don't have to leave your 'work' in double-quick time. You may not believe when they say this is 'the way things are done around here,', but first know the job and the people, and give them time to know you first.
Don't go in too fast, too hot.
As a manager, you need to be great at communication, problem solving, negotiating and influencing, productivity/time management tricks, project management, and above all be a proactive self-starter, not needing people to tell you what to do next.
You will find quick guides to all these skills in the 'table of contents.'
Some common mistakes new managers make
- Micromanaging: Being new at the job, you are not sure how good others are at their jobs. Just set up fixed 'check in' times, to let them know you will be coming then to check up on their progress.
- Undermanaging: Lack of confidence at the new big job means we can be hesitant or just don't have enough experience about the job, to check up on all people, even at fixed times. Get to know who is responsible for what first thing you take charge. Look at their work progress and ask people for their opinion on how each one's doing.
- Doing all the work yourself: You should delegate the less important tasks, or the tasks you know others do well. If some people aren't doing their work, it does not mean you do their work, but you should first try to get replacements.
Remember the '70% rule': 'If someone does a job 70% as well as you would do it yourself, you should approve their work.'
- Being distant from the problems of your team: It happens because the new job may take time to getting used to. Talk to your team one by one (privately) and ask how you can help them with their project or anything else at work.
- Oversharing information: Being in a manager's position means you must share information on a 'need to know' basis, and the 'need to know' is limited by a team member's responsibility area.
- Not explaining all new company policies clearly/putting blame on others for them: Share any relevant information coming from the top, without hesitation: If you have any concern with some of the new policy, take it higher up the chain of command, never down.
- Favoring some team members over others: Being new to the job, new managers are also very vulnerable and some team members may become 'too close' as a result. You may personally like some on the team, but always show yourself spending same amount of time with everyone (unless there is a hierarchy).
Remember, your job is to lead them to the best outcome as a team, friendships comes second.
Thank you for reading.
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