In the course of a summer, I went from never managing anyone to managing sixteen interns. I did not have any formal managerial training and learned many new skills over the course of that summer. Being a good manager is far different from being a good employee, because you are no longer responsible for only yourself. You are responsible for other people—for their career progress, their learning, and their success. You’re rarely taught how to be a good manager. I modeled my own managerial style on what I liked (or disliked) about my own managers, and came up with a style that has helped me manage multiple people in different jobs. Here are some tips for a first-time manager.
Here are my six essential tips for a first-time manager:
Come up with specific action-oriented goals that can be tracked and measured.
One way to do this is to create Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each person and the team that you manage. These should be aligned with the overarching goals of the organization.
Goals and expectations are a great motivator and a way to increase teamwork.
Be a Team Player:
When you are a manager, you become responsible for your entire team’s failure or success. You need to be focused on what you can do to help each member of your team be successful in his or her role.
Show that you are team-oriented by making time for team members, asking them how you can help, using words like “we” instead of “me,” and not taking credit for other people’s work. Additionally, show that you care about each person’s success and the success of the team as a whole.
You have more access to senior management and make it clear that you advocate for your team’s success.
Communication is Key:
Meet with each team member one-on-one at least once a week. Use this time to discuss deadlines, progress on projects and goals, challenges, and any successes they want to share. In order to set your team up for success, you need to communicate regularly and make it evident that you listen, provide advice, and care.
Regularly give both positive and negative feedback. Recognize and praise people’s accomplishments. It makes people feel good to know that you recognize and appreciate hard work, progress, and achievements.
One of the harder parts of being a manager is giving negative feedback. It’s difficult but it is essential and very valuable to the individual. People can’t improve, grow as a professional, or exceed at expectations if you don’t provide feedback, so get used to giving both positive and negative feedback frequently.
And say something when you notice it—not months later. If you wait until something snowballs into a bigger deal, it isn’t fair to your employee because they could have had months to improve and fix it had they only known there was a problem.
I once had someone tell me that nothing that comes up in an annual review should be a surprise. A good manager will frequently check in and provide feedback.
Learn to Delegate:
It’s crucial to delegate. If you hold on to too much of the work and micromanage people, you’ll end up making the project take far longer and you might even frustrate your team members. Plus, micromanaging them subtly implies that you don’t trust their quality of work.
You will empower people if you trust them to do good work. Check everything over and check in frequently, but trust people to do the job they were hired to do. Spend more of your time managing, coaching, and helping people do the best work possible, and less time micromanaging.
Lead By Example:
Lastly, set a good example and follow all of the same expectations you set for members of your team. People will look to you for guidance—even if they don’t explicitly ask for it—so it’s important to set a good example.
Whatever you do, embrace your new role and empower your team to be the best they can be!