Essentials for new managers

People sometimes struggle with a new management role. Maybe they have not had training in how to do it… and it can be quite challenging.

What are the pitfalls and what are the opportunities of becoming a new manager?

Traditionally the role of a manager has been:

  • Planning
  • Staffing
  • Directing
  • Organising
  • Controlling

But these days the role is more about coaching…

  • Clarifying expectations
  • Motivating
  • Building skills
  • Career development

1. Meeting each person individually

The first thing a new manager should do is spend time with each staff member to find out what exactly they do, what they like and what issues they have with their job. Find out how you can help them improve. Determining changes could improve the team.

2. Meet the team as a group

Have a meeting, share your vision for your job and the team for their input. Summarise what you have found out by meeting everyone. Ask them for input on team goals and communication. See how the team behaves towards each other. Do they look happy, do they interact with each other in a positive way? Observe team body language – in this meeting and in their everyday roles.

3. Ask for help

Don’t feel that just because you are the manager means you should know everything in the area – especially if you have not worked in that area before. It’s okay to ask for help.

4. Promoted from within – not everyone happy

The most important thing here is communication! Talk to them… tell them you understand how they feel and tell them you need them, and want to work with them productively. Don’t try to be the expert who knows everything… get their views and opinions. If that fails, be supportive, try to help them, give lots of praise and let time heal their wounds.

5. Managing but also continuing with your job

There is always a difficulty for managers who manager and operate to balance the operational requirements with the management requirements. Be clear about what being a manger means and ensure you have the skills to be a manager (or you will try to avoid it)! Find out what training is available for management skills, and read some inspiring articles or books on management. See it as a skill you need to develop and do as well as your regular job.

6. What about a problem with one person’s performance?

Every manager MUST quickly and effectively manage performance. If you do not, you will lose respect of the rest of the team and have to carry a poor performer, which means you become a poor performing manager. So get in early and do the performance management.

Start by making a casual but specific comment about the performance issue. Escalate to giving feedback and counselling. The most important thing you need to do is gain agreement to the issue and get commitment to improvement. Make this a collaborative process so you solve the problem together. Praise improvements. Repeat feedback if the problem is not rectified. Only discipline if necessary, and make sure you follow correct procedure your HR manager should outline for you.

7. Achieve wins and celebrate

Finally remember your role is to help people improve performance. Try and get some early wins and plan for team celebrations – even a shared morning tea or lunch soon after your start.

Eve Ash appears with fellow psychologist Peter Quarry in the new release DVD Essentials for New Managers. Eve’s company SEVEN DIMENSIONS offers a wide range of DVDs and online assessment tools to help managers develop skills, especially new managers.


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