Updated: Aug 30, 2022
I can't tell you how many times I have sat down with first time managers as they express anxiety, fear, and apprehension about stepping into their first management role. Don't get me wrong, many first time managers are also extremely happy for the career growth and excited about the new challenge! But we have all had a bad manager at some point in our career and we really don't want to be that person for our team.
Critically thinking about your role as a manager is the first step to becoming a great manager!
If you are reading this article, you are on your way! Great managers are always learning and growing. They regularly check-in with themselves and their team members to make sure that they are fostering environments that promote continued development and opportunity. There are many topics we could discuss about management, but rather than overwhelm you let's focus on 3 pieces of advice.
1) Get Support!
The best piece of advice I can give you is to get support. Find a mentor or hire a coach to help you navigate new situations!
Being a manager requires a people-focused approach to work. Your team members will likely respond to situations differently than you would or differently than you would expect. This is normal. We all have varying life experiences and those experiences guide our thoughts and behaviors each and every day. Having a mentor or coach who can help you navigate through these moments is an invaluable resource!
Find a mentor! First and foremost, look for a mentor that you respect and trust. You want a mentor that has more experience than you, carries themselves in a way that inspires you, and encourages you to grow in your own journey. If you don't have a mentor that checks those boxes, hire a coach!
Look for a coach that has a background in HR, diversity and development, or previous management experience. They will be able to give you practical advice and education on ways to tackle the tough days!
2) Give Timely Feedback.
Many first time managers feel unsure about providing feedback. I often see managers wait until yearly or quarterly reviews to deliver feedback to their team about performance and growth opportunities. While on paper this seems like the appropriate time to provide this insight, it sets your employees up for frustration.
If an employee is not meeting expectations on a project then tell them as soon as you recognize the problem. This gives them an opportunity to change the behavior and ask critical questions while actively working on the project. When a manager waits until the next performance review the ability to learn and grow is gone. The project will likely be over and the employee may have trouble recalling the specific details surrounding the project. Furthermore, the opportunity to correct the mistake has passed and that can bring up feelings of embarrassment or shame. Giving timely feedback builds trust and shows your employee that you value them and their development.
3) Prepare for relationships to change.
Many first time managers are caught off-guard when they realize that relationships with coworkers change. This is especially true if you are promoted within your current team or department.
Stepping into management means that you are now responsible for providing vision, direction, and development for a team. In order to be that leader, you will need visibility to more information than you previously had. Some of this information will need to be kept confidential. You cannot tell your former work "bestie" about the person on your team who is having trouble at home or about the fellow coworker that made an error. Gossiping at lunch, making jokes about the company, and commenting on fellow coworkers may have been a common activity prior to management, but now those conversations need to change. Instead, focus on the latest TV shows you are binge watching, plans you have for the weekend, or a great new restaurant you just found!
You are still the same person you were before your promotion, but becoming a manager comes with additional responsibility. You are the person who will help guide and develop your team and that may require a change in relationships.
Remember, give yourself time to settle into the new role. Know that you are not expected to have the answers right away and give yourself space to grow. If you need any management resources, please do not hesitate to reach out. Rooting for you!