It’s been said that when you become a manager, you suddenly find that you are working for everyone else. I think there is some truth to that. Being in management does mean shifting your focus away from tasks and more toward the people who are performing them. And, in turn, they are going to be turning their eyes more toward you, looking for leadership, guidance, approval, and sometimes to be the arbiter of disputes.
When you take this approach—that being a manager means focusing on people—you begin to realize that one of your primary goals is bringing your team together. So in this article, we’ll be looking at some new manager tips that you can use to start this process on Day 1.
Keep in mind, however, that this is not about setting the world on fire the moment you walk in the door. In fact, some valuable advice for new leaders is that being too gung-ho too fast can really backfire on you. What this first day is really all about is setting the right tone and, just as importantly, avoiding setting the wrong one.
The Best Time to Start is Now!
Like a newborn Impala dropped into the Savanna, you would be well advised to hit the ground running. To the extent that it’s possible, try to gain as much insight as you can into the people you will be managing, as well as the processes they are using to get things done.
A new manager tip that I always like to pass along is that once you accept the offer, find out if it’s okay to begin looking at materials relevant to your upcoming job. Often this is not possible in larger organizations, where you will not be allowed to view corporate documents until you are an official employee. However, in smaller organizations, your boss might be more than happy to begin copying you on weekly reports and other documents until you are an official employee. However, in smaller organizations, your boss might be more than happy to begin copying you on weekly reports and other.
Give Your Innovative Ideas Time to Marinate
Sometimes as a new manager you might be fueled a little too much by your initial enthusiasm. You’ve gone through the first step of preparing for your new role. Now you’re brimming with ideas for big improvements and plans for success. That’s great, but an important new manager tip is to find the lay of the land first, and then start acting.
Remember, if you go about your job as a manager the right way, you will have all kinds of time to get things done. And there can be some real drawbacks to overturning the apple cart the moment you get your hands on it. From your outsider’s perspective, you might think that certain practices are antiquated, inefficient, or just don’t make sense. You might be right, but then again … you might not.
Take the time to understand how these practices came into existence before recklessly tossing them overboard. Often there is a very good reason why a particular job must be done a particular way. Other times, truly addressing a problem lies beyond the scope of your authority. If you rush in only to find out that your solution actually makes things worse … needless to say, you’re going to end up eroding your credibility with your new team.
Also, keep in mind that the people you manage are used to doing things in a certain way. They might be more than willing to see things your way or improve a process, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can change like flipping a switch. Consider finding ways to slowly integrate your ideas, rather than tearing off band-aids on the very first day.
Channel Your Energy Into Team Building
Some solid business management advice is to channel all of your bundled up exuberance into forging a tight bond from the word go. In your first management position, you are either going to be a company newbie or a person whose role has significantly changed. Either way, you represent a fresh dynamic recently added to the mix. So it’s never too soon to begin the process of bringing everyone together.
Without blowing up everyone’s day, go around and make contact with your team on an individual basis. Have some specific things that you want to communicate to them in mind—however, just don’t lead off with this material! Begin with the focus squarely on them.
Ask about the basics of their day-to-day duties. Maybe even find out a little about their interests or life outside of work—if you can do so without sounding like an interrogator. For example, if they have a photo of their latest fishing outing on their desk, that can be seen as an invitation to a conversation. However, avoid prying, as this can establish the beginnings of an adversarial relationship, even if that is completely not your intention!
Giving your team members the opportunity to express themselves first in an informal way will put them at ease. It shows that you value them as people, value their role, and their contributions. Ask questions like What is not working, in your opinion? What is working well? How can we improve on what we’re doing? I always find “What’s your number one headache?” to yield valuable information.
Once a rapport has been established, you can begin talking about your management philosophy, specifics about what you want to accomplish, and your expectations. You might even hint at some changes you are considering as a means of giving them a soft intro and inviting feedback.
You should not take this advice as a call to be deferential to the people you manage, by any means. That leadership style is just as ineffective as being an ogre. This is about communicating effectively and making the people you manage fans out of your brand of leadership. By establishing a real connection first, you will find that you have a much more receptive audience that is open to your ideas and willing to implement your strategies.