Twenty Tips for First-Time Managers

Excelling as a First-Time Manager

The colleagues who loved you as their peer now report to you as their boss. Will they still respect you?
It was only a matter of time. Year after year, you beat your numbers and earned the highest marks on evaluations. Your manager sang your praises; your clients considered you one of their own. You sacrificed health and happiness to prove you deserved it. Eventually your time rolled around and they put you in charge. And now that you've made it, only one question remains: What do I do now? Stepping into management can be an overwhelming transition. Forget all your past accomplishments: You're starting from scratch and the learning curve is steep. You'll deal with individuals from different cultures, generations, personalities, and ambitions, some of whom are more entrenched, experienced, and talented than you. And all those dirty jobs you took for granted²hiring, training, coaching, appraisals, discipline, and layoffs²are your responsibility. Worst of all, you're no longer one of them; you're the eyes-and-ears of "The Man," if not the man himself. Now you're all alone. And that means you have a target on your back. Sure, your reports have a stake in your success. But they also have their agendas. Despite your best intentions and efforts, you're bound to disappoint them at times. No, you'll have to accept that not everyone will like you. They'll whisper behind your back, blaming you for things you can't control. They're always watching you, evaluating you against their own strengths, sniping over every weak moment or error. Regardless, these same people will make or break you.
Weaknesses Exposed

Leadership has a funny way of exposing weaknesses. If you lacked self-awareness before, you'll quickly recognize your limitations and misconceptions. Suddenly you're pushed and pulled from all directions. Every interaction is magnified. And all those frailties you've consciously hidden² your temper, tendency to procrastinate, or inability to follow through²will eventually come front and center as the pressure boils over. As with any job, many of us enter leadership with high hopes. We expect to raise the bar for everyone else (or at minimum, not undo the great work of our predecessor). We imagine ourselves building teams and markets, making a difference and someday crossing the stage to the applause of our peers. But then the people, politics, and roadblocks often wear us down. And with every tepid review you give, the guilt will gnaw at you: Is their performance actually a reflection on me?

Here's how to succeed as a new manager. Identify what's mission critical. unambiguous. You represent a fresh start. Remember. and learning. give everyone a clean slate. you have integrity. my friend. Most important. So give them plenty of one-on-one time early. but keep them relatively short. In short. spend your first months observing. we press and claw to the destination. and how everyone's roles contribute to the end result. and to execute it skillfully. Set ground rules and expectations early. few others will follow. To know what's critical and what's clutter. be humble and grow into the job. Rather than risk moving too fast too soon. Sure. . listening. why. Set goals. all your reports will be on their best behavior initially. lean on those with institutional knowledge and memory. 2. Establish time lines and benchmarks to measure progress. everyone knows that. 1. at least not initially. You'll have time to leave your fingerprints as you mature. In reality. Keep a log of everything you question. Instead. How Not to Blow It That semi-competent manager you and your colleagues used to complain about is gone. and world will profit from their labor. all too satisfied when we get there. they want to be seen in the best light. Set Objectives You have their attention: Capitalize on it. Learn the Business You'll feel tempted to overhaul and start fresh. you'll find yourself turning into the new bumbling fool. Otherwise. And guess who's in charge now? It's you. get buy-in from your stars and respected veterans. Learn about their history and aspirations. Take small steps so your employees have some continuity. you must come in with your eyes open and a plan. Outline your short-term and long-term vision for the department.Too often. or inevitably disappoint. help. no matter what you've heard. 3. Watch them in action to see who'll tell the truth. But there's so much you don't know. lives. that's when the real work begins. But you also need a vision and a strategy. Without their support. To keep your promotion from morphing into a death sentence. Meet with Your People Individually Don't judge the holdovers. and achievable. and how their careers. Help them understand they're working toward something larger.

Have a Department Plan An idea is doomed to failure without a plan behind it. and foster an environment where they can excel. and areas for improvement. After meeting with stakeholders. Determine what's holding them back. your job is to get your team members on the same page and level. Face it. they will inevitably drift. Set targets. Check in regularly on their performance. goals. That's right: Take them back to basics. focus your team on that area and remove any obstacles or excuses for delivering it. or profitability. establish individual plans. it requires planning. Start with recognizing each person's strengths. Without a plan and a dedication to executing it. 6. From there. . gradually losing sight of their potential and value. Take a dramatic action to send the message that times have changed. attention. Make a Memorable Gesture Want to make an impact in your first weeks? Strip everything down and simplify. 5. Seek out opportunities where they can learn and contribute (and move out of their comfort zones). Whether you're looking to drive service. such as a bad apple or redundant paperwork. Develop Each Person (Including Yourself) It's the universal question: How can I take my employees to the next level? Like anything. replete with starting and ending points (and the steps in between). At minimum. draft three. Hold yourself accountable by evaluating progress weekly and making adjustments as circumstances evolve. productivity. and commitment. Or build goodwill by skewering a sacred cow or making a symbolic giveback. no different from your department plan.and six-month plans.4.

Sit down with their leaders and rank and file. You want to expand their world. you're also an ambassador. project leadership. 8. motivate them by helping them get there. Know where they want to go. Look for opportunities to give them the spotlight. If they're not coming to you. It takes time to make things happen. Stay in touch regularly and take his or her advice. Communicate regularly. Your newcomer status puts you at an innate disadvantage. newsletters. to forge a long-term partnership. and there will be mistakes along the way. 7. not narrow it. such as training sessions. go to them. And realize you can't be everything to everyone.your reports won't all stay in their jobs forever. Sponsor company events or causes and give out awards and gifts. When this happens. Most important. 10. Find a mentor who can pick you back up and put your challenges in perspective. Chances are. Be patient and take heart with any victories you achieve. . Take an inventory of how your department is viewed. Cultivate a Mentor You've seen it before: One bad manager can stifle creativity. Build Bridges with Other Departments Along with being a manager. Recognize Your Limitations You haven't done the job long enough to own a real track record. Eventually he may be the one who introduces you to the right people and champions your cause 9. to heart. and a mutual awareness of your unexpected synergies. however critical. Seasoned managers will condescend to you. so you keep your capabilities on their radar. Pick those fights and drive those issues you can win. get them face time with leadership. So don't place yourself in a losing position until you've built up your capital. It only takes one opportunity. siphon energy. reach out to someone who's already gone through that. Identify areas where you could improve your performance or potentially team up with someone to help. and poison relationships. Use your influence to get employees into other departments' meetings or field operations. and success stories. Invest time in building relations with the other departments. Increase Your Team's Exposure Take it a step further: Turn your reports into your department's ambassadors. employees will try to roll you. And you'll have times when you'll ask if you're causing more harm than good. a mentor will be flattered by your trust. to enhance their value to the organization.

you're another dead-weight boss. practice the golden rule. Reinforce every day why they want to work here. systems. Your résumé and rhetoric may sparkle. 13. So start by learning what your people do: the constituencies. Your people will adopt your attitudes and anxieties. and accomplished professionals. Reward them for excellence with unexpected treats like a free lunch or a few hours off. Own up to your mistakes. Respect their time: Always be prepared. knowing no job or rule is beneath you. Be the example: Convey confidence and stay composed. responsibilities. so your people do the same. notch some early victories to prove you can get things done. jump into the trenches and get your hands dirty. Prove Yourself People often like holding a title more than the work required to keep it. Show you can step in and do their job if need be. talented. the one employees know will just confuse everything. At minimum. accentuating the positives. In other words. Recognize publicly and praise regularly. So recognize the image you project at all times. they should aspire to be like you. but be flexible. Don't hide in your office. Adjust accordingly. too. some think they could (or should) be you. 14. Keep an open mind. Don't micromanage unless they're not meeting expectations. conscious or not. Similarly. Bottom line: Don't let them stagnate. And stay approachable and positive at all times. Set boundaries. but they'll only win respect for so long. Care About Them Personally . Always walk the walk. 12. Treat Them Like Adults You're managing highly driven. Follow your own rules. Without it. Energize You're a leader. they have families and responsibilities. Chances are. and schedules that drive their day. Bottom line: Establish your credibility. That means asking questions and examining all sides instead of rendering snap judgments. 15. you set the tone and pace and they feed off you. Bring in speakers or share articles so they're exposed to best practices. So pump it up. Assign projects to foster collaboration and closer relationships within your team. your people should respect you.11. and succinct in your dealings. not somewhere else. stay on the offensive to keep your momentum going. People watch what you do more than they listen to what you say. relevant. Don't be afraid to accept input (or even criticism). At best. Be an Example You're wired into the powers that be.

publicize your views or personal life. Are they looking for money. never use the threat of discipline to stifle questions or dissent. checking in and providing counsel from time to time. Provide Ongoing Communication Your employees' perception of you can be your biggest asset or drawback. As a manager. recognition. No one expects you to have all the answers.No one aspires to be a lousy manager. 16. influence. or get too cozy with your reports. you can't juggle everything. So how can you strengthen your relationships? Start by learning what makes them tick. or meaning? Who are their family members and pets? What are their interests? Most important. Step back and let them lead. It's often the accumulation of little things²careless comments or hypocritical acts²that erodes camaraderie and trust. You won't mold everyone into a superstar. and they need to know you're watching out for their interests. Taking your insecurities out on your employees is the quickest path to mutiny. Appearances matter. Like it or not. accept them for who they are. swallow your pride. Even more. so set aside time for each person to provide guidance and support. And that means you cannot take things personally. Delegate Stepping into management is often a battlefield promotion. and capitalize on them. So how can you reinforce a good impression? It starts with reaching out. . Collectively. In this atmosphere. Recognize your shortcomings and your reports' strengths. You may even hold onto your previous duties as you assume new ones. You're now responsible for others. Instead. keep them current on company developments and share what you're doing to help them. 18. 17. little things like a private gesture or kind word also set managers apart. your guard must always stay up. but steady performers bring equal value over the long haul. you'll eventually hold gut-wrenching meetings on conduct and performance with your people. Keep Out Emotion There's a price to pay for leadership: You always have to be the bigger person. Maintain a two-way dialogue and seek feedback on what's important to them. Just be careful not to abuse delegation: It can never be a means to regularly duck work or leave early. Your comments and relationship will be used against you. and you'll only hurt your team by pretending to know more than you do. Fortunately.

20. Instead. focusing on looking good over helping people succeed. In these times. Fair or . Reflect on Your Employees Management can be a thankless job. can see through the selfimportance. employees and peers alike. your people should never guess how you'll react. your personal reputation rubs off on your department. Reality is. Be Consistent Think a title automatically bestows respect? Guess again. But everyone. ask yourself: Are they right? Over time. they should view you as a patient arbiter who'll provide a fair hearing and honest feedback.19. Otherwise. Some will turn your name into a punch line. some lose sight of the big picture. it ebbs and flows for many managers unless they possess a distinctive quality: consistency.msn. And silence is a far greater threat to any business than candor. they'll invariably tell you what you want to hear rather than what you need to hear. As business grows more complex and uncertain. Make sure your conduct and attitudes don't hamper your employees when it comes time for securing resources or earning promotions Reference: www. Others will predictably undermine you with human resources.

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