Have you been promoted to a manager role before you know how to succeed as a new manager? Well, many people do!
Back in the day, there were no mentors available to guide people in the process of managing a team of staff. Sometimes, the people who were upgraded to new managers were so because they performed excellently in their current job. So if, say, they are technical experts, the new role of a manager can bring a new world of challenges to them. So most of them managed teams through trial and error and/or by looking at their role models. The challenge with this is that you tend to move new managers from your natural zone of genius to a new habitat. But you don’t get taught what’s needed to thrive in this new habitat. You’re left to work it out on your own.
Learning to become a new manager on your own feels something like this:
There is an exceptional story of Tracy, who was fortunate enough to have great managers or experts to look up to when her role was escalated to that of a new manager.
She was a woman who felt alone, managing a team of people who had more life experience than she did. She felt uncertain, she felt out of her depth. She was certainly anxious. There were butterflies in her stomach. For her, uncertainty was a normal thing. Scared, she said things that didn’t land well, but she felt the pressure of needing to appear like it was all okay. But deep down it isn’t.
Some days she had a little cry on the way home. She relied on a few too many wines Thursday through to Saturday to self-medicate and on the weekend to erase the memory of an uncertain week.
What must have been like for a team, if you are that someone young and unsure, trying to lead but not yet having developed the skills to do so. Wouldn’t it make a huge difference if you knew the keys to succeeding as a new manager in the first place?
Three tips to succeed as a new manager
When Tracy was asked what she wished she knew back then when she was newly appointed as a manager, we got the following three smart tips which all of you can also take advantage of. And here are them:
- You don’t need to have all the answers.
You may be full of questions when you step into this new role as a manager. If you are a technical expert, you can only have a solution to technical problems. But when you start managing people, there is going to be uncertainty for sure. Rather than learning by trial and error or by trying to succeed by repeating what has worked for you in the past, you can look for a mentor or performance coach to show you the way.
Assemble the options then collectively explore them. Once you have a way through, decide, then act. Don’t wait for clarity if it isn’t there. Clarity often arrives as a result of taking action.
2. Know your team
What matters most to them? Not just professionally, but on a personal level too. What can you do to support them in reaching their personal goals?
There’s no such thing as a work-life and personal life. We have a life. That’s it! Work affects home and vice-versa. So consider how are things at home for them? What responsibilities do they have beyond the working day? What support networks do they have? Are they getting enough quality sleep regularly?
Notice when they do good work and make a point of ensuring they feel seen, heard, and understood.
3. Your job is to set the standard and hold the vision for your team.
A great manager can be detail-oriented when it’s needed and then look down on the situation from 30,000 feet.
So spend some time getting comfortable with these questions. What’s the purpose of your team? How do they contribute to the bigger picture? What does an exceptional contribution look like? What isn’t it?
Now you have the standard, communicate that standard consistently. Be clear about the signposts (your lead and your lag indicators) that suggest standards are above or below what is acceptable.
Now for the vision, once you’re clear on what an exceptional contribution looks like, what three things need to be in place so that your team can deliver on that purpose? Where are the bottlenecks? Where are the constraints? Your job is to be clear. And to understand what those barriers are, and remove them. You’re also there to consistently communicate your team’s vision so they know what great looks like. And where the unbreakable standard sits. And your job is to hold that line.
Being a manager can be hard. But one of the best things about being a manager is that you get to be more of yourself. Because great people make great managers. Management can be that mirror that shows you those things you don’t want to see about yourself. It provides you with an opportunity to acknowledge them, love them, release them, and choose a new way of being.
It’s also one of the few roles where you can extend yourself to its full breadth and variety and allows you to feel alive. At one moment, you’re in the trenches with your team. Next, you’re thinking in the clouds as you chart the next chapter. Life can be pretty expansive. To all those managers out there, be gentle with yourself.
As you just attended these three tips to succeed as a new manager, it’s a sign of your potential growth in your career as a manager.
If you still feel stuck or have questions as a new manager, feel free to comment below. We would love to hear from you.