Useful tips for new managers

Habitomic Journalist
Habitomic Journalist

Being promoted to manager for the first time is both exhilarating and challenging. It takes smarts to move up the corporate ladder but transitioning into your new role means mastering a new skill set.

Many leaders and managers get promoted because of their individual competencies but struggle when it comes to leading and managing people. When managers fail, it is usually because they were unable to achieve important results. That failure typically stems from two causes:

  1. They manage others before managing themselves.
  2. They do the managing instead of teaching their people how to manage themselves against shared expectations.

To get off on the right foot, here are ten tips to help you get the most out of your team and create a work experience they will thrive in.

10 tips for new managers

1. Recognize that it’s a new job

Even though you were most likely promoted in a department where let’s say you were the best engineer, you are no longer an engineer; you’re a manager overseeing engineers. While you may not have mastered your new job, you do have a track record of success in that area, so focus on your ability to master a job.

2. Learn and practice active listening

If you had to pick just one skill important to your success as a manager, that would be active listening, which is considered the most important skill to master as a leader.

3. Try to be proactive

Being proactive is about taking responsibility for your life. Proactive people recognize that they are “response-able.” They don’t blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. They know they can choose their behavior.

Reactive people, on the other hand, are often affected by their physical environment. They find external sources to blame for their behavior.

A proactive person uses proactive language—I can, I will, I prefer, etc. A reactive person uses reactive language—I can’t, I have to, if only. Reactive people believe they are not responsible for what they say and do—they have no choice.

Proactive people focus their efforts on their circle of influence but reactive people focus their efforts on the circle of concern.

4. You’re a boss, not a friend

One of the most frequent mistakes new managers make is that they try to be friends with their employees. It is especially hard when you get promoted over your peers, and you’re now managing friends who were once peers. You’re now in a position of power and authority and being friends with one employee, and not another creates perceptions of bias and favoritism. You can be friends outside of the office, but while in the office, keep the interaction professional.

5. Treat every employee with respect

You may be in a superior position, but you are not superior to anyone. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and if you waiver from this, you’ll end up losing more than your self-respect.

6. Schedule one-on-one meetings frequently

Very few people want more meetings in their lives, but for managers, a weekly one-on-one meeting with every direct report is an absolute must.

If you can’t give each of your direct reports 30 minutes of your time every week, then you either have too many people reporting to you.

In those one-on-one meetings, you want to hit on three things:

  • Their update of the things they’ve been working on, and what they need from you to help them succeed.
  • You update them on all the information they need to know to do their job well.
  • A quick brainstorm of future goals, ideas they have, and development they might need. This is also a great place to integrate coaching.

You should not cancel your one-on-one meetings. This face time is a critical component of building a relationship with each of your employees that is grounded in trust. It’s one of the most important things you can do to drive their success.

7. Never give critical feedback on people’s emotions.

You’ll never eliminate the role of emotions in the workplace, but that doesn’t mean you need to provide commentary on them. Ultimately, people can think or feel anything they like if they are showing up and doing what they need to achieve their goals. That’s why it’s critical to focus on things you can see when you are giving out critical feedback. Your goal is to change someone’s behavior – get them to stop doing something that isn’t effective and to go down a different path. To do that, you have to be crystal clear about what they are doing, and why it’s important to change. So, as a new manager, you shouldn’t give critical feedback on people’s emotions. Instead, focus on behavior and impact.

A good rule of thumb to follow is this: behavior + impact + expectation. You state the problematic behavior, explain why it’s a problem, and set the expectation for future behavior. For example: “when you come late to the staff meeting (behavior), you throw off our agenda and it takes 10 minutes longer than it needs to (impact). Please make it on time in the future (expectation). And then, to the next point, thank them and provide positive feedback when they meet the expectation!

8. Track performance.

If you’re going to turn up the accountability, you’ll need a way to track people’s progress.

9. Don’t treat your employees the same.

Not every member of your team is going to need the same amount of attention. Give more to those who are struggling and less to those who are holding their own.

10. Your job is to make your employees successful.

At the end of the day, you will be judged based on the success of your team. That means that they are your first priority. The minute you start deviating from that path is the minute you wander into “bad boss” territory.

It might be helpful to do a quick exercise at the end of every day and make a list of the ways you set your employees up for success that day. It will help you to take stock, hold yourself accountable, and make sure you are focusing on the things that matter most.

Tiny habits for new managers

These are some habits that new managers can build for themselves to be more successful at their work based on the book Tiny Habits by BJ-Fogg.

  • After you sit down for breakfast, open your calendar app and review the day’s agenda.
  • After you get dressed for work, read a positive affirmation.
  • After walking into the office, smile and greet each person you see.
  • After closing your office door for a one-on-one meeting, ask a specific question about how your colleague is doing.
  • After you go through all the agenda items, ask if your colleagues have any additional items for discussion.
  • After an employee comes to you with a problem, say, “what do you think is the best way forward?”
  • After you complete the hiring paperwork for new employees, add their birthdays to your calendar.

In conclusion, new managers must learn how to exert authority and control over what work gets done without alienating subordinates – all the while managing the expectations of their own boss.

So, if you’re a new manager you can try these tips and habits mentioned above and don’t forget to download our app to help yourself stick to these easy tiny habits.