Congratulations! You recently have been promoted to that management position and sitting in that corner office you’ve always coveted in your career. It’s new! It’s exciting! You feel you have finally arrived! You’re educated, trained, and have a wealth of experience under yourcan’t wait to get started and make your mark with your new team. You’re ready for the challenge!
At one time or another, we may all have had an opportunity in our career to feel that elation and excitement. How ready were you to manage right out of the gate? I know I wasn’t!
Reflecting back on when I started managing in a senior position, there were some key things that I wish I would have done differently, more, or better! So, when coaching or mentoring others, there are two major lessons learned that I usually share with them:
1) First, I should have spent more time outside of the corner office and engaged and interacted with my team more.
2) Secondly, I would have focused more on these key principles:
Tell your employees how much you appreciate them from time to time. Just go out and say it. Ask them out for a cup of coffee and tell them what you appreciate about them: They’re a hard worker; they effectively motivate other people; they’re easy to coach; they’re disciplined or go the extra mile; they always cheer you up, etc. Don’t mince words — just tell them straight out. An employee who knows just how much they are appreciated will work harder, enjoy what they do more, and pass that psychic happiness along to other employees.
Make sure each employee knows what’s expected. Having concrete goals empowers your employees and keeps them focused on work. Explicitly outline what you expect, when the deadline is, and what you’ll do with the results.
Hold yourself to the highest standards. We all know the kind of manager who constantly shouts or bitterly complains when mistakes are made but gives himself a ‘pass’ when he fails. Don’t be this kind of manager. Ideally, be harder to on yourself than you are on your employees. This can have a trickle-down effect: Employees see the types of goals and standards you set for yourself and want to emulate you because they look up to you.
Assign tasks that will stretch your employees. As your workers begin to take on more responsibility and demonstrate that they’re capable, give them tasks that will expand their skills and help them take more ownership of their work. Not only are you finding out how much your employees can handle, you’re making them more valuable to the company.
Ask questions. Intelligent questions show that you can follow the flow of the conversation and clarify when necessary. Don’t be afraid to ask questions because you’re worried about appearing “stupid.” Effective managers care about understanding what’s important; they don’t care about how they get there. Know, too, that others will probably have questions and may not ask. If you ask their question for them, you can act as a facilitator and build your team’s engagement level. That’s the true mark of a good manager.
Treat everyone equally. Most of us aren’t as egalitarian as we’d like to be. Many times, favoritism happens on a subconscious level. The tendency is to give more positive recognition to the people who remind us of ourselves somehow and who actually like us, rather than to the people who make the biggest contributions to the organization. In the long run, it’s people in the latter group who will make the most progress in achieving the organization’s goals, so monitor your own behavior carefully and make sure you’re not accidentally short-changing them, even if they give you the impression that your positive regard doesn’t affect them. Some people shy away from positive feedback but appreciate it nonetheless.
Treat your employees well. If you’re good to your workers and they’re happy with their jobs, they’ll pass that kindness on to customers and invaluably bolster the image of your company. Or, they’ll do the same for their employees and maintain a positive corporate culture.
Coming Off The Island
Don’t try to go it alone. Swallow your pride. Take every opportunity to learn and draw upon the experiences of others every day. You will never know it all. Network and communicate with colleagues, peers, and seniors that have been there. Ask questions, observe, and reflect upon how you can adapt what you’ve learned to become better.
Seek A Mentor. It never hurts to have someone in your corner that you can trust and seek guidance from every now and then. Listen, reflect, and draw upon their experiences.
So, if you’re a new manager, I encourage you to come out from the corner office and engage with your team…
A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.
— John Le Caré