Managing a team can be an exciting experience but it can also pose challenges, particularly for first-time managers and those transitioning from a team member to a leader.
Statistically, managers promoted from within are more likely to be respected by their former teammates compared to an external hire – but there are still challenges ahead for those chosen to lead a team they were once a part of.
A manager requires a new set of skills and qualities, so how is best to develop these and introduce them into your working day?
Skills & Qualities to Consider for First-Time Managers
Clarify What Your Responsibilities Are
When taking on a managerial role for the first time, it is crucial to gain a thorough understanding of what the role is and where your responsibilities lie.
In any aspect of running a business, knowing your responsibilities is key to successful performance. Think about how you would manage to run a project without knowing what you were expected to do – managing a team is no different.
It is important to establish your role as head of the team, as well as the responsibilities of the team members to allow efficient working and overall successful performance.
Speak to other managers, see how they manage their teams and don’t be afraid to ask for any advice along the way. Take on board feedback from peers, as well as team members. All of this can help you develop as a manager and grow into the role.
Communication is a key part of any business and, as a manager, you will need to communicate effectively throughout the team, and to the wider organisation. Part of the communication strategy as a manager involves listening as much – if not more than – as you talk.
A manager that shows the willingness to listen will find that employees are more likely to open up. Plus, you may find that they are more likely to come to you with suggestions for the team, which could be beneficial for everyone.
Listening to employees and acting upon feedback will create an element of trust, as well as employees becoming more receptive to ideas that you communicate.
When communicating, especially a change of process or important information, it is important to make sure that staff find out from you as a manager and not second-hand from someone else.
Where possible, try to gather staff and communicate any big announcements to all of the team, as information slipping out through office whispers can cause unrest and can make you lose respect as a boss.
A common mistake newly promoted managers make is still getting involved in the small, day-to-day tasks that they used to be responsible for. There are a couple of reasons this can happen, apart from just force of habit.
First-time managers can be keen to show that they are not afraid to get stuck into tasks, and that they are not above helping out at the level of the rest of the team – particularly if the team is short-staffed for one reason or another.
Alternatively, there is the chance that as a new manager, your old tasks are more familiar to you than the world of leadership and the things you are faced with there. While this can be appreciated, a manager working alongside team members is not a good idea.
When actioning tasks that should be undertaken by the team, managerial responsibility can be neglected, resulting in negative consequences for the team and potentially the business.
There may be times where a manager must step in to help, in busy periods or where a staff shortage is causing severe problems, but these times should be kept to very much a rarity and a necessity, rather than a regular occurrence.
First-Time Managers Should Set Boundaries
Related to the issue of delegation and being careful not to neglect managerial duties is the advice to set boundaries as a manager.
This is of particular relevance to those newly-promoted to managing from previously being part of the team. It can be easy for first-time managers to become too friendly with staff, leading to clouded judgement and an impact on overall performance.
While it is part of human nature to wish to be liked and popular, particularly if you were once part of the team, it can be easy to put personal relationships before being a manager.
The nature of management means that employees may not always agree with your decisions, but as long as they are for the overall benefit of everyone, then you are doing the right thing.
Naturally, adding an element of friendship, especially approachability and making employees know you are a supportive boss, is fine. However, do set boundaries and make sure your position is clear: that you are respected and that you don’t allow personal relationships to get in the way of the job you have to do.
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