Congratulations on your promotion to manager! You’ve earned this!
But now what? If you are like most managers you have inherited a team of direct reports and have received zero instruction on what to do. Funny how when it comes to the most important asset of any company, its employees, companies fail each and every time to set our managers up for success. I think it is only the minority of companies who can boast of some awesome management training program.
Here are 5 Tips for setting yourself up as an outstanding manager of people:
- If you are a new manager, perhaps just recently promoted and now find yourself managing your peers this puts you in a tough spot. First thing, unfriend and dis-connect from your direct reports on social media including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The dynamics of your relationship have now changed. Believe me, you do not want to be privy to your team’s evening and weekend exploits. Knowing what your team members do “on the outside” will make it more difficult for you to manage and develop your staff members based on his or her performance, skills and abilities. You are only human, and we are inherently biased to some degree and stuff you see on social media will impact your decision-making abilities. But don’t ignore those friendships either or pretend like you are too good now to take your team members to lunch and have some personal one-on-one time. An honest discussion between you and your direct report about how you both see the relationship changing will go a long way maintaining strong ties that also respect the manager-employee relationship.
- Do your homework. If HR or the Departmental Director does not provide you information on your employees, gather it and begin to create your own management files. As a new manager, you need to know your employee’s names, titles, previous supervisors, salary history and general job history with the company. Get their resume and any behavioral assessments that were completed. Obtain all available performance reviews and read them thoroughly, note any trends. If your employee has written performance goals or a training plan, know them forwards and backwards. Finally, speak with the former supervisors and/or HR to get a better understanding of the employee’s career history with the company. Your employees’ may be the technical subject matter experts of the department, but you need to be the subject matter of your team members.
- Build a relationship with your employee on DAY 1. Take your employees out for one-on-ones in a social setting with less pressure, such as lunch or coffee. Start a casual conversation, don’t jump in with questions like “So, where do you see yourself in a year from now?”, start with small talk. Get to know your employee, ask about their college experience, how they got into their industry or occupational field. Be careful not to ask questions that are considered discriminatory in nature. However, if your employee offers the information that’s okay. Actively listen by asking further questions that build upon their answers. In this way, you and your employee are creating the story of how your relationship started. You want that story to be a happy one.
- Create a plan for continuous feedback and communication with each of your team members. Most companies have the dusty “open-door” policy in their handbooks, usually for compliance reasons. As a manager, you have to make yourself accessible to your employees when they need you, not when it’s convenient for you. That’s what you signed up for when you decided to become a manager. Start by greeting everyone in the morning with a warm hello and how are you. It’s these small but powerful actions that can make the difference between a talented employee who keeps something bottled up and decides to leave when they feel no one is listening or decides that all they need to do is come talk to you and work it out.
- Figure out what your management style is and communicate it. Your style will likely be determined in some part by the people you are managing, their career levels and what they do for a living. Also, relieve yourself now of the belief that you have to treat everyone the same. Managing fairly means determining each situation on a case-by-case basis. Managing consistently does not mean managing each person the exact same way. Do you want to be the manager who manages not only what your people do but how they do it? Are you comfortable delegating authority off the bat or do you need the employee to earn your trust first? Do you intend to give your employees lots of rope and to rein them back in when they start to get too close to the cliff? Or, are they on a short leash? Will you implement active development plans for all of your staff? Do you expect them to have goals and to achieve them? Whatever you decide, show your hand to your team members so they understand expectations from the jump.