Productivity

How to Lead Effectively as a First-Time Manager

Becoming a manager for the first time is both exciting and nerve-wracking.

You want to prove that you can lead and also keep everyone on the team happy. Especially if you’re promoted and have to manage people that you at one point were on the same level as, management can be tough.

There are steps to take to ensure a smooth transition.

For someone who is hired to lead a brand new team or for anyone promoted within, here are five ways to lead effectively.

1. Address concerns and gather feedback from the get-go

You may be tempted to “see how things run” before approaching the topic of feedback. However, this can quickly turn into letting things continue to run poorly.

You don’t have to start by shaking things up completely, but it’s important to get feedback from the team.

Find out what didn’t run well under old management. It’s likely that the team has some changes they’re ready for ASAP, such as technological upgrades or streamlined processes. And maybe some workflows are perfect, so you don’t want to touch those.

Talk to the team to find out what they like and what they don’t and offer changes accordingly.

2. Find out work preferences and then trust the team

Many new managers make the mistake of micro-managing. After all, your work is on display, and you want the bosses to see a well-oiled machine under your leadership. This is a recipe for disaster.

Some team members don’t need to be and don’t want to be micromanaged. And the only way you’ll know this is if you ask.

Talk to your team and ask what role they prefer. Maybe in some tasks, the old manager never helped, and they need you to step in. And in other tasks, they have it all under control and don’t require constant supervision.

After gathering their feedback, trust what they say and act accordingly. Don’t gather their input and manage how you want; instead, really listen and trust them when they tell you their preferences.

You may be really nervous as a first-time leader but give your team a chance before stepping in.

3. Remember to give positive feedback as well

When something goes wrong, of course, you’re going to have to address it.

That is one of the more unfortunate tasks of any manager – giving negative feedback. But don’t make that the only feedback your team gets.

There are plenty of occasions to provide positive feedback throughout the week. Positive feedback is more than just a “good job” in a Slack channel; it should be specific about the action and the outcome.

It should balance praising one employee and not discouraging others – remember, you’re a team.

4. Continually train yourself

Now that you made it to a managerial position, you probably want to stay there. The key to doing this is by regularly educating yourself.

A study by Grovo found that 87% of managers wish they were given a chance to learn and progress when they first took on their role, and almost half of new managers felt that they were unprepared for their position.

There are a plethora of articles on leadership to read, plus many companies offer professional development options — take advantage of those! And you can always talk to your team about how you can improve.

Feedback should be a two-way street, so everyone on their team has their voice heard.

5. Keep tasks assigned to goal

First-time managers are happy to be away from menial, tedious work, but that doesn’t mean that work goes away – someone on the team has to do it.

Especially for tedious work, keep tasks assigned to an overall goal. Instead of asking an intern to input data, explain why the data has to go into the system. People work better when they know their impact.

As a first-time manager, you have a lot of eyes on your work, so it’s important to stay focused and listen to the team.

If you need help dividing the team’s workload, check out our blog with tips.

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