Way to go! You’ve worked hard and now you’re on your way to officially becoming a leader. Maybe you’ve been promoted within your company or perhaps you’ve accepted a role as a manager with a new employer.
You’re excited to hit the ground running but also a little nervous about how things are going to change and how you’ll adapt to those changes. We’ve got you covered! Here are 10 new manager tips to help you set the stage for managerial success:
GO IN PREPARED AND READY TO LEAD ON DAY ONE
To be impactful as a new manager you should start preparing for your new role ahead of time. Read up on management tactics as it pertains to your new role. Will you be managing remote, hybrid, or in-person teams? Will you be working with freelancers? If this is a promotion, you may already be looped into existing internal politics on the team you’ll be managing. If so, what are the steps you can take to ease those challenges early?
Another great way for you to prepare is to turn to former colleagues with management experience, or even an old boss, to ask for advice and solicit any new manager tips they can share about stepping into a leadership role.
And when you do start, it’s important to understand that first impressions can have a lasting impact. New managers should take into consideration what message their early words and actions will send colleagues. And sometimes, those opinions will be formed based on limited contact.
While you might start your first day full of excitement about the positive change you want to bring to your teams, it’s important to resist the urge to go in right away like a bulldozer, taking out any hurdles in your way. While it’s OK to take an internal tally of workflows and practices that you might want to change – new managers should avoid the impulse to change everything right away.
Instead, new managers should come in with a well-thought-out plan of how they want to position themselves and what messages they want to convey. From there, it is important to learn and listen first and then utilize the team’s expertise to start working towards those goals.
REMEMBER THAT THIS IS A NEW JOB
Many in the creative, marketing and digital sectors are doers. But to be a successful manager in these fields you must learn to shift your mindset from doer to enabler.
You may have been the best creative project manager or the most results-driven content marketer before, but now you’re managing these teams. You’re no longer checking things off the same to-do list; now you’re helping guide your teams through their to-do lists. Think of yourself as their North Star, you’ll provide a vision of the end goal, but employees should make that journey themselves.
As a manager, you will largely be judged on the success of your team, not just your individual performance. So, it is now your job to learn how to help your team do what they do best, and often this will require you to get out of the way to let them shine.
RELATIONSHIPS WILL CHANGE (AND THAT’S OK)
This new manager tip may be most poignant for someone who has been promoted. But chances are if you’re a new manager anywhere that you must learn to be OK with how your seniority will change the dynamics of those relationships with your colleagues.
Perhaps before you became a manager you would occasionally gripe about work stressors and share candid opinions with your peers. Maybe many of these coworkers had also become personal friends outside of work. But now you’re their manager and some of the conversations you used to have might now be considered inappropriate. And further, as a new manager, you likely have access to personal information about employees, such as salaries or previous disciplinary action, making it of utmost importance that you understand your obligation to maintain these new professional boundaries.
Moving from peer to manager can present some tricky challenges. The changed dynamic can create a strain on relationships, especially if there is any added jealousy if one of your colleagues was passed up for the promotion that you received. But that strain doesn’t mean you have to completely nix your friendship with these colleagues or even be all business all the time. However, it should be a priority for you to create strong boundaries between personal and professional.
LEARN SITUATIONAL LEADERSHIP
As a new manager, you want to play to each of your team member's strengths. This is where situational leadership comes in. It is a model for determining how to manage individual employees based on how much direction they need.
Think of your team as a group of superheroes with unique powers – those respective and individual strengths are all working to help the greater good. As a manager, it is your job to figure out those powers and make sure each team member is in a role where they can play to their strengths as much as possible.
And if you find that you are missing a specific skill set that would help your team, consider partnering with a specialized creative, marketing, and digital staffing agency like 24 Seven to help fill those gaps whether it be for a new full-time employee or a freelancer to help with an upcoming project.
Looking to help build out your teams?
When thinking of how you can best protect your team of superheroes, it is helpful to think of yourself as the buffer between your teams and clients. Here, your superpower would be shielding them from unreasonable requests, being there to take the heat, and finding solutions when problems arise.
DELEGATE, DELEGATE, DELEGATE
Perhaps the most difficult task for many new managers is learning to delegate. Might the work get done faster if you just do it quickly yourself? Maybe. But that is no longer your job and will do nothing to help you build up the individual employee or your team.
Learning to make the transition from being a player to a coach is one of the most important tips for new managers.
To be a great manager, you should think of yourself as a great coach. Do coaches play on game day? No. But is the coach judged by the outcome of the game? Yes.
As a new manager, you teach, develop, train, communicate, give feedback, and celebrate wins. None of this can be done if you’re trying to save time by running the plays yourself.
BECOME AN ACTIVE LISTENER
This is one of the most important skills for anyone in the workforce, but this is especially true for those in management. While the ability to hear is one of the five senses, having good hearing does not guarantee you’re a good listener.
Some tips for new managers on how to become an active listener include:
Maintain eye contact: Look at the person (or camera) when they talk because this forces you to pay attention and shows them that you’re focused on what they have to say.
Avoid interrupting: Let people talk, if they leave space for a question, ask it. Otherwise, leave the questions and comments for the end.
Be mindful of your body language: Nod your head, avoid fidgeting, lean towards the person if you’re in the same room and, of course, watch your facial expressions. Depending on the conversation, you may be receiving information you don’t agree with or are unhappy with, but as a new manager, it is important that you remain professional and engaged.
Pay attention to nonverbal cues: Just as you want to be mindful of the impression your body language might give, you should be attentive to what the speaker’s body language is communicating.
Repeat, acknowledge and ask questions: Once the speaker has finished and the floor is yours, communicate that you’ve understood. Repeat some of the main points you’ve discussed or acknowledge the problem they’ve addressed. Now is also the time for you to ask questions. This is an opportunity for you to solicit their opinion on what they think might solve a challenge. Or maybe it’s an opportunity where you can ask more questions to get a larger overview of the issue.
How you approach each of these steps will vary based on the discussion but being an engaged and active listener is a critical new manager tip.
GIVE ALL THE FEEDBACK
We don’t want to play favorites with the new manager tips, but feedback is one of the most useful tools in building and developing your team as well as prioritizing retention. When learning how to give effective feedback as a new manager, you should prioritize how to utilize these conversations to help employees reach their full potential.
And yes, sometimes this will require addressing negative behavior and/or mistakes. These conversations, while sometimes uncomfortable, can be less awkward if met with an action plan and an explanation of the “why.” For employees to improve they should receive frequent, clear, and actionable feedback.
It might also be helpful to open these tougher conversations as a two-way dialogue. Consider asking a few questions to start. Often when given the chance, employees might already know where they need to course-correct and could have ideas on how they can improve. From there, you can ask what they need of you to reach that goal.
Just as employees can learn from where they need to improve, they can also benefit from knowing where they’re excelling. Did your SEO manager restructure a page so that you’re now surfacing on the first page of Google? Celebrate that! Did your digital marketing manager launch a successful email campaign that led to a record-breaking quarter in conversions? Celebrate! Did your content manager just write a good blog post? Celebrate! Was your graphic designer able to turn out a quick design at the last minute? Celebrate!
Simply put, the wins don’t have to be big to celebrate. For the most part, people like to know when they’ve done well. And as a new manager, you might discover that getting into a regular habit of celebrating wins of all sizes, makes the tougher conversations that much easier and could help you get ahead of potential burnout.
ASK FOR FEEDBACK AND ENCOURAGE COMMUNICATION
Given the demands of the day, it might not be possible to always have your door open – be it a physical or virtual one. But setting up an early foundation that encourages a regular feedback loop and open communication will be beneficial for the relationship you’re building with your team and for you, as you grow in your role as a new manager.
One idea to encourage feedback is to share an informal anonymous survey after your first 30, 60, or 90 days. You can ask general questions about where your employees think you’re doing well, where you could improve and what they need from you to help the greater good of the team. Asking your team to share their thoughts on your performance shows that you value their opinions and experience within the organization.
Keeping a line of communication open is another valuable tip for new managers. Your employees should feel comfortable communicating with you and the team about new ideas, thoughts on how to improve workflows, best practices they’ve found success with, and even sore spots.
Stepping into a leadership role allows you to have a platform you didn’t have before as an advocate for improvement. Encouraging feedback and communication will help you see what kind of improvements your team needs to be successful.
As a new manager having regular 1:1 and team meetings is a great way to make sure you’re implementing many of the new manager tips above.
But when it comes to meetings, there is a fine line between what is needed and what can get in the way of team productivity. As a new manager, be mindful of your team’s meeting load and make sure that you’re staying on the side of what is necessary. This frequency will vary on your specific teams, how they’re structured and where you work. For instance, if your team is fully remote it may require more frequent meetings to share projects, check in on timelines, gauge employee morale, and so forth. But if you’re a hybrid team, it might be beneficial to limit meetings to days when the majority of your group is in the office.
When it comes to scheduling meetings, a popular pandemic-era meme comes to mind, could this have been an email?
GET TO KNOW YOUR NEW PEERS
As mentioned, when you go from employee to manager, your relationship with those former peers will change. But now you have a new group of peers within your management team. Get to know them, learn from them, and ask for help when you need it.
Having colleagues that you can bounce ideas off, strategize with, and sometimes just vent with can be invaluable for your professional mental health. Lean on this new group of professional peers to help guide you.
Having access to other leaders in various departments within your company gives you a new opportunity to collaborate and share your teams’ successes with the company's higher-ups. Remember, when your team looks good, you look good.
Many people have experienced how poor management can lead to high turnover, accelerated burnout, and disgruntled employees. But if you’re lucky, you’ve also had managers that believed in you, trusted your work, supported you, and built you up to where you are now. Learn from both.
HOW 24 SEVEN CAN HELP
As you develop and build your teams, consider working with a specialized marketing, creative, and digital staffing agency like 24 Seven. Our recruiters are tapped into a wide network of professionals looking for full-time and freelance opportunities. Contact a recruiter today to find out how we can help you expand upon that team of superheroes.