Have you recently been promoted to manager?

By: Jennifer King

There’s often a period of uncertainty and confusion that comes along with a promotion, especially when it means also having to manage a new team of people. If you’re a new manager, you may feel a little uneasy about the fact that you’re now responsible for the growth and well-being of an entire team.

To help you out, I spoke with a few recently-appointed managers and an executive coach to get some pointers for first-time managers, and here are some of the tips they shared with me.

Get to Know Your Team

One of your new responsibilities as a manager is helping your direct reports reach their career goals. Have that discussion up front and start with a few questions such as, what are your career goals? How can I help you get there? What do you want out of this job?

According to Deirdre Walsh, senior social media manager for Jive Software, “if you start by understanding the career goals and plans for each person, that will help you make better decisions that will benefit the company and the individual.”

When Walsh started managing her team of two back in November 2011, she took as much time as possible up front to get to know her people. By building a relationship with her team early on, she felt better prepared to address business needs as they related to her group.

Listen Hard

Knowing how to really to listen to your team will be critical as you spend more time with them one-on-one. Cheryl McMillan, an executive coach for Vistage, said “if this is the only skill a manager has, he or she will progress farther than anyone else.”

But along with that comes restraint and the ability to listen without assuming you know the right answer right away, according to Mike Lee, assistant branch manager for staffing and recruiting firm, Randstad. He says new managers should “strive to truly listen during discussions rather than prepare in your mind what you will say next.”

Know You Won’t Be Awesome at First

You were probably promoted to “manager” because you have the most experience on your team, you’re a star performer and you have great people skills. While these are all important traits for new managers to have, chances are you won’t actually be good at management in the beginning. But that’s okay. In most cases, new managers need training and development just like any new hire within a company.

“Some people can be good at it right away,” said McMillan. “But there’s a big misconception that people can do this stuff naturally. Management is really a science and an art. People need basic knowledge first and then practice.”

New managers can get a jump start on training by building out a solid plan with development goals and consistent performance evaluations. This a great way to assess progress during the first few months on the job.

What advice do you have for first-time managers?

Jennifer King is an HR Analyst at Software Advice, a company that compares and reviews recruiting software (www.softwareadvice.com/hr/). She blogs about technology, trends, and best practices in human resources and recruiting. Read the rest of her tips for first-time managers on her HR blog.


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