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CAREER TIPS-You’re the Boss-Now What? 7 Things To Do if it’s your First-Time as a Manager

Posted 18th August 2020 • Written by adapted from an article by Adrian Granzella Larssen on •

You’re the Boss-Now What? 7 Things To Do if it’s your First-Time as a Manager

Well done! You’ve got the promotion you were looking for! You’re now a manager, for the first time. But what now?

Here are some tips to make the transition smooth.

Get Smart

Learn everything.

Seek out the management tools, resources, and classes that your company offers. Some organizations have formal training for supervisors and managers, and nearly all have manuals and HR policies. Read them, digest them, and keep them near.

You should also do some research into the people you'll be managing. Review their personnel files, their CVs, and their past performance reviews and goals.

Find a Mentor

Of course, many of the situations you'll face as a manager aren’t outlined in a manual. How do you deal with a team member who's underperforming? Or an overachiever who you’d love to promote but can’t because of budget cuts?

The good news is, someone else has probably dealt before with any situation you'll face. So one of the most important things you can do is find a mentor, someone with whom you can confidentially discuss issues as they arise. If this is your boss, great. If not, find someone else in your company who can serve in this capacity.

Change Your Focus

You’ve probably been promoted because you're great at your job. But before you were a manager, your job was to get things done, now your job is to help other people do the same thing in an outstanding way.

This change is often difficult for first-time managers, but it’s crucial—your performance will be tied to the performance of your team. This means, if your team fails, you fail. And if they succeed? You can take credit, but you have to share it with the rest of the group, or they won’t be willing to do a great job for you in the future.

Listen and Learn

Many new managers want to make bold changes quickly to show that they're in charge—but that might be a bad idea. Instead, take plenty of time to fully understand your organization and team. Set up individual meetings with each of your new staff members to understand their roles. Ask questions about what they like about their job, the biggest challenges they face, and ideas they have for improving the organization.

Obviously, you can’t please everyone, but saying “I would love to get your input as I make plans for the future” goes a long way in building positive relationships and open communication. And understanding what people’s goals, hang-ups, and challenges are can help them perform at a higher level, which will only serve to help you.

Also let them know that you’re open to listening on an ongoing basis. Whether it’s having an open-door policy or scheduling “office hours” each day, make sure your employees know when and how they can speak to you.

Address Relationship Shifts

The biggest mistake that new managers often make is that they try to be liked; especially if they’ve been promoted from within and find themselves now supervising people who used to be at the same level.

If you do find yourself managing a former peer, you must address the shift—immediately. You can’t keep up your twice-weekly happy hours and closed-door lunch dates with your work best pal without it creating feelings of distrust and resentment from the rest of your team. Also keep in mind that, while your former colleague may be happy for you, they may also feel awkward or resentful about you now being their manager, especially if they went for the same job but failed!

You don’t have to become an evil dictator and impose yourself too strongly, but you do need to get the balance right which may mean a conversation with certain people to discuss how your work relationship might need to change. Not easy. But vital.

Be on Model Behaviour

Complaining about the boss when you’re on a works night out? Turning up late to meetings? Sorry—those days are long gone. As a manager, you'll be looked to as a role model by not only your employees, but also by others in the organization. You can’t expect people to give their best at work if they don’t see you doing it, so be sure you’re always on your A game. This means meeting deadlines, sticking to your word, keeping your personal opinions under wraps, and doing your best to represent your department and organization.

Manage Up

Being the boss doesn’t mean you can ignore your own supervisor. In fact, it’s more important than ever to keep them in the loop, since you’ll be reporting the progress of a whole team. It’s also important to make sure that the goals you outline for your team match your boss’ priorities.

Ask to set up regular meetings to discuss your goals, your progress, and any issues, and how they relate to the organization as a whole. You can only impress your boss with your team’s progress if you're moving in the right direction.

Being a manager is an ongoing learning experience, and it's probably never going to be "easy." But, do your research, set expectations, and shift your focus from the get-go, and you'll be off to a great start.

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