What New Managers Can - and Should - Learn Fast

Mikaela Kiner
What New Managers Can and Should Learn Fast Your first management job is a big deal, and a clear sign you're accomplishing something positive in your career. It's also the first time your job performance will be primarily dictated by the performance of others. As you probably know, not every promotion works out and first–time managers may struggle before getting it right. While you may be a natural, there are some common pitfalls many new managers face that you can learn from so you're well prepared as you make this transition.

If You're an Internal Hire and Find Yourself Managing Your Former Peers
Welcome to one of the trickiest professional circumstances in existence! On one hand, your team should be proud of your accomplishments and a celebratory happy hour (on your dime) should be in order. On the other, some of your peers may be jealous and even angry, especially if they were hoping for the promotion you got. People might talk about jumping ship, but rumblings of discontent will no longer reach you. You're not a peer now that you're leading the team, so no matter how open your door you'll now be left out of the daily chatter and gossip.

But don't fear. Your leaders have entrusted you with a new level of responsibility and it's time to learn – fast. Start by consulting with your boss, your new peers, and other managers you look up to. They're your new professional network and they'll have plenty of valuable advice for you. Talk to each of your team members individually about what they need and how you can support them. Learn about their skills and career aspirations from your new perspective as a manager. Figure out how you can become an advocate and set them up for success. Your feedback, both positive and constructive, is crucial. Let them know you're on their side, and keep asking for feedback about how you can be more effective.

If You're a New Hire at a Different Company
Talk about an uphill battle. Your new position is admired by your former coworkers, but you're an unknown quantity to your new team. Not only did one of them likely get passed over in your favor, but they have to go through the transition of learning to work with you, and teaching you the ropes at the same time.

Your skills and experience from your previous job earned you this one, and your confidence will go a long way. Start small, learning what makes each person on your team tick. Ask about their personal and professional interests, strengths, and skills so you can jointly craft a plan to help them succeed. Instead of trickling orders down from on high, ask what each member would consider a professional goal and work with them to help achieve it. Acknowledge that this is a change for them as well as you, and that you're relying on them to come up to speed.

If You're a First Time Manager
Don't sweat it! Everyone makes mistakes in their first roles as managers or supervisors – and your boss knows it. Your task isn't to simply take over responsibilities for your team, after all. First–time managers are often given a bite at the apple to see how they perform before moving onto bigger responsibilities. You'll need to learn about each team member's workload, strengths, weaknesses, and habits. This will lay the foundation for the rest of your time as their “boss.” They will judge you based on your actions during the first few months, so don't be surprised. Be careful not to upset the apple cart here – get to know how things work before making changes. Remember, your success is based on the success of your team so everyone has the same goal.

As a manager, it's your job to support your team and enable them to do the best possible work at all times. You want to set clear goals that are aligned with the business, clear roadblocks, and help the team navigate change. You'll no longer succeed by being a great individual contributor; you need to give up that role and learn to manage through others. There are lots of available resources including mentors, books, podcasts and articles where you can learn from the mistakes of first time managers so you don't have to reinvent the wheel. If you're looking for additional help, contact us or give us a call today for a free consultation. uniquelyhr.com/contact
Mikaela KinerMikaela Kiner, CEO & Founder of Reverb, is a native Seattleite who's spent the last fifteen years in HR leadership roles at iconic Northwest companies including Microsoft, Amazon, PopCap Games and Redfin. She has an MS in HR Management with a certificate in Organizational Development and is an ICF credentialed coach. Mikaela delivers results by building trust and engaging her clients in creative problem solving. Clients appreciate her strategic thinking and hands on execution. You can find Mikaela on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. reverbpeople.com

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