Congratulations. You've landed your first management position and now you're not only responsible for your own performance, but the performance of all staff who report into you. Good management skills got you this far, but what do you need to do stay there? Hint: you have to look down the ladder as well as up.
Maintain the Status Quo
While you may have been hired or promoted because of your creative vision, don't plan on implementing radical changes your first few weeks on the job, especially if you're new to the organization. Introducing too much change too soon, can send the message to your team as well as other managers that you think you understand the company's workings better than they do.
Establish yourself in your new role and gain the confidence of others by taking the time to get the lay of the land before you start sharing ideas that affect the organization's structure, processes and systems. Even if you do know better, you'll still need the support of people around you to make things happen.
Get to Know Your Team
Make an effort to reach out individually to all those who now report into you. Schedule one-on-one meetings to get an idea of what your team perceives to be the department's or company's strengths and weaknesses and solicit their ideas for solutions.
Encourage your team members to ask for what they need from you in your role as manager, where they'd like to improve their skills or receive more training, and what they consider to be their strongest achievements. Above all, be sincere. Employees have a good sense of when managers are just going through the motions. If they get that sense from you, it will take additional time and effort to build trust.
Learn How to Delegate
One the most basic management skills that's often least used by first-time managers is delegating. After all, when you complete a task yourself you have complete control over the outcome. However, by not delegating you're doing both yourself and your staff a disservice.
Part of being a manager is applying more strategic- and critical-thinking skills to the work your department is doing. Delegating helps minimize the amount of tactical work you're doing so you can focus on the bigger picture. The key is learning to identify which tasks are best left to the skills of your staff and which ones require more involvement from you.
Take care not to assign tasks at random-find the best member of your team to get it done, even if requires a bit of training. Deliver clear instructions for how the task should be completed along with your expectations for turnaround (try to make those expectations as reasonable as possible). Discuss any obstacles to achieving that goal with your employee and be willing to help them improve their performance, taking extra care not to micro-manage the project.
Don't underestimate the effect of a simple "please", "thank you" or "good job" can have on your employees. Whether they've spent the last three days archiving files or churning out a top-notch client presentation, acknowledging their efforts goes a long way toward communicating the value they bring to your team.
If one of your employees or peers has outdone themselves on project you're ultimately responsible for, give credit where it's due and don't take it for yourself unless it's yours-you might look good to the big boss from a distance, but if it happens consistently you'll stop getting the support from these people that makes your job possible.
A lot of new managers get caught up in the excitement and enthusiasm of their new positions and for all the right reasons: they want to learn as much as they can as quickly as possible and start getting things done in order to demonstrate their commitment to the company. As a result, first-time managers often wind up working excessive hours and when you're working that hard, for that long, not all of those hours can be productive.
Try to identify the tipping point in your day when your ability to do focused work drops and you're spinning your wheels more than you're getting anything accomplished. When you find that point, call it a day. Without an opportunity to rest and regroup, you'll only continue to work at less than your best and over time, you'll accomplish less than you could have if you were well rested.
Evaluate How Your Use Your Time
This tip goes for first-time managers as well anyone in the workforce: how can you work smarter instead of harder? One way to is to take a close look at your time management skills. In other words, how do you actually use your time throughout the course of the day? If you're losing time on reading and responding to e-mail, consider scheduling two to three half-hour blocks for this task and keep your e-mail program closed at all other times. Everyone's time drains will be different, but if you can identify what yours are and create systems to deal with them, you'll get more work done in a shorter period of time.
Look for a Mentor
If you're a new to the company you're working for, you might consider finding a mentor within the company who has the skills, experience and institutional knowledge to guide you in your new role. Some companies offer formal mentoring programs, but don't be afraid to strike up and informal mentor/mentee relationship on your own.
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