When you become a manager for the first time, it's almost like you're entering a brand new world. However, nothing has drastically changed. You've just expanded the scope of your awareness.
Even though nothing really changes, now part of your job includes lots of seemingly intangible activities and responsibilities. For instance, as an individual contributor and part of a team, it makes sense that you care about your coworkers. As a manager, making sure your people are doing OK and find meaning in their work becomes part of your daily job.
From my — not very seasoned — experience and that of the ones around me, I want to share a few practical tips for all the new managers out there.
Your job is to help others do their job better — Start something that Matters, Blake Mycoskie
Lead with respect and humility
No one likes to be bossed around or treated disrespectfully. Sometimes people look up to you for answers. Most of the time, they look up to you as a role model. Respect everyone's work and personality, foster a collaborative environment. Practice taking a step back. Be humble, be true to yourself and others around you. Allow yourself to say I don't know or I'll find a way to get you the help you need.
Admitting that you need a more time or help is and immense demonstration of respect and trust for your people.
Foster transparency and communication
As a kid, sometimes I would feel very frustrated when the answer to "Why?" was simply "Because" , "Because it is that way.", or "Because person X said so". This is never made sense to me, and I believe everyone deserves to know the why behind the goals and actions of other people.
Being transparent is crucial in any relationship, be it personal or professional.
Be open and, as much as you can, bring to the table the reasoning behind your actions. Obviously, not every single action or decision needs a prelude. Finding the right balance is a mix of science and magic.
Ultimately, you end up having the opportunity to develop strong relationships with the people you work with, by virtue of the amount of time you spend together.
The key is to keep practicing.
Use regular 1:1s to help people grow, not just to provide a status updates
One-on-ones are the moments in your week where you and your people have dedicated time to strategize growth. While it's tempting to turn those 30 minutes to 1 hour of your time into a status update, try removing operational tasks out of your 1:1s.
Use this time to learn about your people, their thoughts and aspirations.
Of course, if someone is having problems in a specific project, they're feeling stuck or experiencing a work conflict, this is the moment to discuss it.
Provide regular feedback
Don’t wait for the quarterly or annual reviews to give feedback. While formal feedback is crucial, it’s more important if it is timely. Good or bad, the feedback should be given either when the situation arises or when enough distance enables a candid, constructive conversation.
Provide Structure: Become a Facilitator
As humans we crave for any semblance of order.
Regular meetings with a shared agenda, standups and team roadmaps all seem like simple, obvious things, but are extremely underrated.
These simple things provide a path and direction, which can inspire and motivate your people. They'll find a sense of order, security and will have preview of what's ahead.
And, most of the time, seeing a few feet ahead allows you to relax and focus on the job.
Be your team's cheerleader
During the daily hustle and bustle, it's easy to forget to celebrate small victories. Be your team's cheerleader. Foster a culture of having each other's back when things get rough and celebrate important accomplishments.
At the end of the day, the battle scars, the good, the bad and the ugly moments are what brings people together.
Ask for help and guidance
Managing people is a never ending learning process.
Reach out to other managers inside your company and in your social circle. Ask them what worked for them and their teams and specially, what didn't. Process that information, go back to your team and experiment. See what processes improve your workflow.
Don't be afraid of asking for guidance.
People are generous and willing to help you. Because they know what it's like being in your shoes. Being a manager for the first time.
Thanks for reading!