The transition from worker to manager can be overwhelming. Perhaps that’s why so many first-time managers suck. They suck time, energy, and resources from many organizations. If you are a first-time manager, read on for some great tips from the experts.
If you are an employee who works under a first-time manager, take a deep breath and learn how to meditate—your patience will be tested!
Here’s why many first-time managers fail:
They haven’t received proper training.
Keep in mind that a poor manager is often the fault of the employer, not the employee. Too little time is spent training the right people. Instead, workers are promoted based on seniority and a host of other illegitimate reasons. Leadership is an art form. And if you’re working for an organization that is unwilling to teach the people they promote, you might want to seek employment elsewhere.
However, if you are a first-time manager, it is up to you to learn how to lead. “One of the biggest mistakes a first-time manager can make is not seeking out good training and skill building opportunities,” says Vivian Scott, the author of Conflict Resolution at Work for Dummies. “Whether or not your employee will pay for it is somewhat irrelevant. Building good skills from the get-go will pay off huge in the long-run.”
They communicate poorly.
According to Laura Rose, a Certified Efficiency Coach:
“Managers need to clearly articulate their high-level vision and goals. Managers need to outline their expectations and quality/success criteria. Managers need to validate and listen to their group to verify that everyone understands the goals as it fits in each employee's role and responsibility. Then managers need to listen and allow their team to create and deliver that vision.”
Being a manager requires a level of transparency and confidentiality that non-managerial workers rarely have to utilize. One-on-one, in-person communication is often the easiest way for first-time managers to establish themselves.
They pretend they are still in the trenches.
It's OK to be nice to your subordinates. It's OK to go out of your way for your subordinates. But it is not OK to pretend that you are on equal footing with them.
“Be friendly with your staff, but avoid getting too close with everyone right away,” says author Ian DG Sandusky. “You want to be respected for your ideas and decision making skills—not just because you’re a great guy, and your Austin Powers impression is first-rate.”
Your job has changed and so will your relationships; resistance is futile.
They think micro instead of macro.
Instead of concentrating on high-level issues and solutions, many first-time managers are too busy holding onto their former tasks. Leigh Steere, co-founder of Managing People Better, an online questionnaire that helps managers become more effective, shares the following:
“The top mistake I see from brand-new managers is failing to make the transition from doing the actual work to getting great work done through others. The top mistake I see from senior leadership is failure to help first-time managers make this shift. Unfortunately, senior leaders often continue to reward new managers for their personal output, not how well they get work done through others.”
They fail to build trust.
How much muscle should a first-time manager flex? That's the question that new managers are forced to answer—and quickly. A rookie in charge will often overexert themselves in the wrong areas, upsetting workers and upper management. And once you've lost trust, it's very difficult, if not impossible, to win it back.
According to Tony Deblauwe, founder of HR4Change, “A new manager is always eager to do a great job and prove he or she was the right pick for the job. This results in focusing too much on tasks and not enough time connecting and learning about each person on the team. If the trust is not built productivity can be impacted.”
If you don't have your staff on your side, your job will be that much harder accomplish. You need the support of your team, and other players in the organization, in order to achieve success.
Whether you are a first-time manager or work for one, the key here is help. Smart managers surround themselves with smart people. Smarter managers surround themselves with smart people who are willing to question their decisions. Help each other and everyone gets a taste of success.
Andrew G. Rosen is the founder and editor of Jobacle.com, a career advice blog. He is also the author of How to Quit Your Job and an established freelance blogger who is available for hire. Follow him on Twitter (@jobacle) or connect on LinkedIn.