Great job! You’ve put in your dues as an associate, and your hard work and relentless efforts have finally been recognized. Now you’re leading your department, beaming with pride, beholding your powerful new job title-- Manager. You might not, however, find the shift into a management position graceful and effortless. Don’t worry though, on the road to perfection, no one will judge you for occasionally stopping to ask for directions. The roadmap is ever-changing, and reliant on your own unique circumstances.
To keep your head above water, we have pulled together some easy to follow tips on how to make an instant impact on your team and your superiors.
- Don’t be a ‘Boss’
‘Boss’ is an outdated word, with negative connotations. Direct your focus onto being a leader for your team. Instead of trying to puff yourself up to gain respect, try earning it by being a valuable resource for those who look up to you. Get in the mindset that it’s not about the title-- a true leader will strive every day to meet the standards of their team, and earn their position as Captain of the ship.
- Communication, Above All
So often, new managers are afraid to tell their higher ups about problems arising under their supervision. You are filling a new role-- one in which you take on the majority of heat when things turn sour—and understandably, you don’t want to come off as inadequate. Unfortunately, by waiting until the problem is too far gone, you actually put yourself in a worse position. Be humble and vigilant with your intervention. Your superiors are sure to be put at ease knowing they can count on you to take immediate, affirmative action.
- Choose the Best Staff
The saying is true: you’re only as strong as your weakest link. A common pitfall of new managers is their inclination to hire sub-par people in order to let themselves continue to shine. What’s the issue with that, you ask? Consider the long term, and how your department’s quality of work will be affected. Another valuable hiring tip is asking yourself this hypothetical question: could I see this person as my boss? Knowing your strengths means acknowledging your weaknesses. Hire accordingly. This is your opportunity to fortify your team-- and yourself-- by learning how to fill the gaps of talent when it’s necessary.
- Find the line between Friendly, and a Friend
Chances are if you’re moving up from an entry level or associate position, you’ve already established relationships with your peers. The tough part will be maintaining the bonds of those relationships you’ve created, while forging a new dynamic-- one where you are respected not as their companion-- but as their leader. On the same token, make sure they know you have their back above all else. The loyalty you’ll receive from a team that is confident you will support them is unparalleled.
- Manage 360
Learning how to delegate tasks can be challenging as a new manager. On one hand, to be a great leader, you can’t suffocate yourself with assignments, too overwhelmed to be the crucial backbone of your team. On the other hand, no one likes a micromanager. Assigning a project to an employee not yet ready for the task, and watching their every move because of it, will surely turn into a disaster. Here’s something to remember: when you’re assigning projects to your team, make sure you clarify things for them, and always be open to questions. Considering the convoluted nature of projects starting at the highest ranks of a company and trickling down to the associate level, it’s not always easy to understand the weight and importance of the task. Giving them a bit of a framework explaining the value of their efforts-- however menial the task may be-- to a larger mission, will give them a feeling of value and ownership to the project. This will result in a final product that everyone is proud to turn in.
I hope I have succeeded in highlighting crucial strategies that you will find useful in your future career as a manager. Of course, every situation is unique, so be sure to tailor these tips to your own personal needs, and the needs of your team. Remember, it’s not about the title itself, it’s about what you do every single day to earn the title that counts.