You finally became a manager – congratulations!
However, now that in you’re in your first few weeks with your nifty new title, you’re realizing that maybe you hadn’t put enough thought into what you would actually do now that you’re in charge of people.
Don’t worry – you’re not alone. Lots of new leaders (and even leaders who have been in their roles for awhile) can struggle with how to best manage their teams.
Luckily, I’ve got a few tips for you. Try these out and you will be well on your way to becoming a competent and confident leader of people.
1. Own your new position
Sometimes new managers can feel a little reluctant to take on the role of being a leader. Even though they dreamed about having a bigger job,once they are in it, the responsibility can feel overwhelming. Because of this, they can be too apologetic or lenient when dealing with their team.
While a dictatorial approach doesn’t work in the long-term, the people on your team should know you are the boss. And, they can only truly feel comfortable following you if you feel convey comfort and confidence in your new position. So recognize you were given your title for a reason, and truly own it!
2. Set clear expectations
As a leader, part of your role is holding people accountable for the results they achieve. However, if there was no clarity about goals in the first place, you haven’t agreed on a standard to which they will be held accountable.
To combat this, make sure you are as clear as possible in setting expectations. Thinking of 4 of the 5 W’s (who, what, when, why) can be really helpful when delegating tasks. Who is responsible? What exactly are they responsible for? When is it due? Why is it important? A lot of managers can overlook the why, but I have found that when people have a sense of how the work they are doing ties into the bigger picture, it can give them additional motivation in that it lets them know how their contribution ties into the success of the organization.
3. Focus on coaching
This one would seem to be a given, but based on my discussions with employees of various levels across the years, people don’t get as much coaching and feedback as they would like. When someone has done a good job, be specific with your praise (e.g. “You did an excellent job on this report. I particularly liked how you built the rationale for our initiative).
Also, while many leaders can be reluctant to give constructive criticism, remember that it is important for helping people to grow. Again, make the feedback specific, and be empathetic as you provide it. When delivering it, your intention should be to help the other person’s development. (Think of the analogy of a coach giving a player some pointers on how to have a better jump shot – you are giving tips to help the person to be more successful). If people are only hearing feedback from you during performance appraisals, you are not coaching them enough.
4. Make sure to delegate appropriately
When people transition into management, they sometimes forget that they actually have a team to whom they can assign tasks. So, they continue business as usual and try to take everything on themselves. Not only does that approach set you up for burnout, it also deprives your people of valuable opportunities to grow.
To combat this, make sure to delegate with two concepts in mind. First, delegate tasks that others can complete easily so you can free up your time to engage in higher level activities. Second, delegate tasks that will stretch people. While this will require more ongoing coaching from you, it will benefit you in the long-run as your people develop new skills (which will then free up your time in the future).
5. Develop regular routines
While it is great to be flexible and have an open-door policy in which people can connect with you whenever they need to, it can also be helpful to have the structure of regular routines. Have regular staff meetings, and have an agenda for them, so people know what to expect. Have one-on-one meetings with your team members (if appropriate) so you can have conversations about what’s going well, what’s not going well, and ongoing coaching and career conversations. For people who are less inclined to take the initiative to reach out to you, these structured meetings can provide a helpful opportunity to communicate with you.
While these tips are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the characteristics you will need to become an outstanding leader, they will give you the fundamentals to effectively lead a team. Apply them in the work place and see what happens!
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