Getting promoted to manager is cause for celebration. Your hard work has paid off, and now you have more autonomy, more interesting projects, and (presumably) more money. Helping those you oversee develop and grow while honing your influence as an advocate, can be highly gratifying. However, the transition from worker to management comes with its own challenges.
Common Pitfalls of the New Manager
Many of us have had precious few managers we’d label as “good,” no matter how many years we’ve been in the workforce. A 2012 Gallup report found that only about one in ten people possess the skills needed to be a great manager, yet of those remaining, some may still end up in managerial roles. Needless to say, if you’ve just been promoted, you want to be the best manager possible. Here are five tips to help you avoid some common pitfalls.
1. Be Ready to Learn. Many people hold the misconception that getting work done as a manager is as simple as asking employees to do it. They forget that in and of itself, positional power isn’t enough to motivate others. More than one new manager has bemoaned the number of tasks left undone, no matter how nicely or how many times he or she has instructed employees to do them.
The first thing to understand about managing is that it’s hard. Regardless of a manager’s natural talent, winging it won’t do, nor will resting on niceties. Instead, a new manager should be prepared to study for the part by reading, attend workshops and webinars, and humble him- or herself to the guidance of a trusted management mentor who can help in developing leadership skills. In addition, seeking input from staff and truly listening to what they say goes a long way toward promoting compliance.
More on this: 15 Books Every First-Time Manager Should Read (Inc.)
2. Be Self Aware. It’s 100 percent true that a good leader takes time to learn about his or her people—what they want, what they need, and what motivates them. That said, the best managers understand that the more they know about themselves, the better leaders they’ll be. In other words, key short- and long-term goals should include self-awareness, self-insight, and self-control. A manager who hones these qualities will be able to handle whatever challenges arise.
More on this: What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It) (Harvard Business Review)
3. Create New Boundaries. Becoming a manager, especially if you were promoted from amongst your former peers, changes once-familiar dynamics. Your expectations of others and their expectations of you will shift. What’s more, they’ll treat you differently. For instance, in an attempt to get in your good graces, some people may be less honest or more ingratiating. On the flip side, former peers may be resentful or jealous or simply unsure where new boundaries lie. It’s also not uncommon for new managers to struggle with boundaries themselves as they try to find their place within the new order of things.
More on this: For New Managers, Boundaries Matter (a Lot) (Forbes)
4. Learn Time Management. Before becoming a manager, you could devote all your time to the tasks on your to-do list. But with the shift in position, time management becomes as you oversee your staffers’ projects along with your own. Staff also need time with you to brainstorm, vent, and bond. Prioritizing delegation, hiring effectively, learning the art of saying no to time-wasting activities, advocating for more efficient processes and procedures, leveraging technology, and when all else fails, accepting that additional work hours are occasionally required—these are the components necessary for doing your job well..
More on this: How Effective Managers Organize Their Time: 9 Pro Tips from Real HubSpot Managers (HubSpot)
5. Model Good Behavior. Being a great manager and fostering positive employee morale and engagement means that certain behaviors are absolute no-nos. Fraternizing with staff, gossiping, and griping about management should be relegated to the past. Whatever frustrations you may have about the job will have to find different outlets. This helps create a positive and respectful workplace for all while also highlighting the self-awareness mentioned above.
More on this: How to Create a Gossip-Free Office (The FruitGuys Magazine)
While not without its challenges and demands, managing and motivating people to do their best can be truly rewarding work. And though few people are naturally suited to the hurdles that come with it, investing your time in ample training, support, and mentoring will help you set the groundwork for becoming the best manager you can be.
Crystal Spraggins, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is an HR professional and freelance writer born, bred, and living in Philadelphia, PA. Crystal has more than 20 years of experience as an HR leader helping small- to mid-sized for-profit and non-profit companies develop policies, programs, and procedures that increase profits, maximize efficiency, and enhance positive employee relations.
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