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5 top tips for new managers

Kate Allen, Managing Director, Allen Associates

Being promoted into your first management position can be as exciting as it is scary.

On the one hand, it is recognition for all the hard work you have put into your career to date and acknowledgement for a job well done – your Employer clearly has faith and trust in your capabilities. But on the other hand, there will naturally be an element of doubt that creeps in: Did they make a mistake? Are you really up to the job?

Whether you feel excited or scared as you walk through the door on your first day, one thing is for sure: management is going to be very different to what you’ve done before and you need to be ready for the change.

The amount of advice available for new managers can seem almost as overwhelming as the new job itself. That is where this article comes in.

We have worked with many of Oxfordshire’s largest Employers and provided them with staffing solutions at every level. Many of those candidates we have placed have gone on to climb the ladder within those organisations. So, based on our experiences and what we have learned over the years, here are five of the most effective ways that new managers can maximise their potential in their new role.

1. Know your team

As a manager you are nothing without your team, so you need to spend time and effort getting to know them: not just their roles, career history and ambitions, but also who they are as people – their family, hobbies, their likes and dislikes.

The better you know them, and understand them, the better the chances of building a rapport and motivating them – and, ultimately, the better able you’ll be to maintain a happy and productive team. Consider arranging one-to-one meetings early on and making them a regular feature.

2. But don’t be a friend (at work)

If you’ve been promoted internally, the chances are you will be managing people who are (or were) your friends. So, although you need to know your team, you also need to be careful not to be too friendly at work.

You are no longer their peer – you are their boss. If you seem especially friendly with one or more of the team, others may view this as favouritism, and those you are friendly with may expect special treatment.

There’s a fine line to tread here, and no relationship is exactly the same. Some managers may retain friendships outside of work, while others decide they have to effectively end a friendship.  However you choose to play it, just be aware of the implications for your employees and the team.

3. Forget the little details

As a manager, you have to look at the big picture. That’s your job now. No matter how good you were at doing those operational things, you now have a team of people who are paid to do that, so your focus needs to be on managing.

If you get bogged down in the detail, you’ll most likely take your eye off the real job, and that won’t help anyone. Look after your team and they will look after the details.

4. Respect everyone

You may be the boss, but that doesn’t make you any better or more valuable than anyone else. Don’t let your bigger pay cheque convince you that you’re now superior to your team members.

Leadership expert Tom Peters famously states the four most important words for any organisation are “What do you think?” Asking this of your employees isn’t abandoning your responsibility as a manager. It’s using your responsibility wisely, and potentially empowering your team to solve their own problems.  

5. Listen more, talk less

This may seem counter-intuitive, because you might think you need to exert your authority at every opportunity. But many consider active listening to be the most important skill for any leader to master – and listening really is a skill. Listening attentively not only shows respect, it also helps you to understand your team both tips we’ve mentioned above).

At the same time, the best managers don’t say much, suggests Morey Stettner, author of The New Manager’s Handbook. “Silence enhances your power… Your employees will know that every word counts – and they’ll give you their undivided attention as a result.”

Management is a skill like any other – the more you practice, the better you become. You won’t be expected to have all the answers and there will always been one or two people in your team who will never be satisfied. But that doesn’t matter. What counts is that everyone understands that you have their back, that you take responsibility for the failures as much as the successes of the team, and that you are not afraid to take action when required to do so.

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