Earning your managerial stripes is a pretty big deal in your career journey. (Full of spills and thrills.) It's like getting a backstage pass to influence decisions, shape the future of your crew, and make a real difference. Plus, it's a golden ticket to learn, grow, and level up both personally and professionally.
But let's not sugarcoat it—there are bumps along the way. You might find yourself juggling a circus of new responsibilities, from playing referee in conflicts to dishing out feedback and managing performance. One of the trickiest juggling acts you might face is balancing your own tasks with the responsibility of overseeing others. That's where this guide comes in handy. We've gathered up expert insights from the world's best managers and pulled from our own experiences to let you know what we wish we knew when we first became managers. Because learning these tips for first time managers now will give you a major headstart. (It usually takes most managers years to discover on their own.)
Essential Tips for First Time Managers
Stepping up as a rookie manager comes with its share of learning curves. Picking up certain essential skills will help you navigate this new role like a pro. Let's dive into some crucial skills you should develop - building trust with your crew, communicating like a champ, and understanding and leveraging your crew's strengths.
1. Build Trust with Your Crew
Trust is the anchor of any successful crew. As a rookie manager, you'll need to build and nurture trust with your crew members. Start by being reliable; when you say you'll do something, make sure you follow through. Show your crew that you have their back, and they'll start to trust your leadership.
Remember, trust takes time to build and can be lost in a flash, so be consistent in your actions. Being transparent, honest, and open with your crew will also help foster trust. And when the seas get rough, stand by your crew. They will appreciate it and trust you even more.
Effective communication is another critical skill. As a manager, you'll need to communicate clearly and concisely, ensuring that your crew understands their tasks and responsibilities. Make sure to actively listen to your crew's ideas, feedback, and concerns. This will show them that you value their input and lead to more open and productive conversations.
Develop a communication strategy that works best for your crew, whether it's regular crew meetings, one-on-one check-ins, or a combination of both. And remember, communication is a two-way street. It's not just about conveying your message but also about understanding what your crew has to say.
3. Understand and Leverage Your Crew's Strengths
Finally, understanding your crew’s strengths and leveraging them is key. Each member of your crew will have unique skills, experiences, and perspectives that can be valuable to your crew's overall performance. Recognize these strengths and assign tasks accordingly. This will not only increase crew productivity but also boost morale and job satisfaction among your crew members.
To understand your crew members' strengths, spend time with them, observe their work, ask them about their interests and strengths, and give them the opportunity to showcase their skills. Once you've identified their strengths, use them to your crew's advantage. You can also use a strengths finder assessment to speed up this process.
Practical Tips for First Time Managers
As a manager, you're embarking on an exciting new chapter in your career. There's a lot to learn and plenty to navigate, but with the right approach, you can absolutely boss this new role. Here are some practical tips for first time managers to help you on your journey.
4. Embrace Your Leadership Role
Being a leader isn't about flexing your muscles—it's about earning respect, guiding your crew, and leading by example. Embrace this role with humility and confidence. Listen to your crew, value their input, and don't be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get involved. Remember, a good leader doesn't just delegate tasks, they also inspire their crew to strive for greatness.
5. Automate Repetitive Tasks
Finding efficiencies is part of your gig as a manager. And one of the best things you can do early on is identify where your team is wasting time today, and what tools you can use to take those tasks off their plates. Not only will this make you look good to your bosses—your team will appreciate getting to spend their time on more important things in their role.
For example, a tool like Magical can automate repetitive tasks like messaging, data entry, and filling sheets. It's a free Chrome extension that can save each member of your team an average of 7 hours per week. Who wouldn't love that?
6. Manage Your Time Intentionally
Managing your time like a pro is crucial in this new role. With more people depending on you, it's important to prioritize your tasks, delegate when necessary, and know when to say 'no'. Consider using a time management technique, like the Eisenhower Matrix, to help you decide which tasks need your immediate attention. Here's how it works:
Effective time management isn't just about getting things done—it's also about ensuring you have a work-life balance. For more tips on managing your time, check out our post on best time management tips.
7. Foster a Positive Crew Culture
A positive crew culture is the backbone of any successful crew. Promote open communication, appreciate good work, and encourage a healthy work-life balance. Show empathy and understanding, especially during challenging times. Remember, a happy crew is a productive crew.
As a new manager, it's also important to create an environment where everyone feels valued and heard. Encourage diversity of thought and be open to new ideas. A culture that values innovation and creativity is one where everyone can thrive.
Tips for Navigating Rough Situations as a Manager
Every manager, seasoned or not, will encounter rough seas. As a new manager, how you handle these situations can significantly impact your crew's morale and productivity. Let's explore some common choppy scenarios and how to navigate them effectively.
8. Tackle Conflicts with Care
Conflicts are as inevitable as waves in the ocean. However, as a manager, it's your responsibility to handle these conflicts in a way that maintains a harmonious ship.
When conflict arises, remember to stay neutral and listen to all parties involved. Focus on the issue at hand, not the individuals. Facilitate a conversation where everyone feels heard and understood. Finally, guide your crew towards a resolution that is fair and respects everyone's perspective.
9. Provide Constructive Feedback
Providing feedback, especially when it's not all sunshine and rainbows, can be a tricky task for new managers. The key to effective feedback is to make it constructive rather than critical. Start by acknowledging the good work your crew member has done. Then, point out areas for improvement and provide specific, actionable suggestions. Remember, the goal of feedback is to help your crew grow, not to demoralize them.
10. Address Performance Issues Early
Dealing with performance issues can be as uncomfortable as a barnacle in your boot, but it's a necessary part of your role as a manager. When addressing performance problems, have a private, one-on-one conversation with the crew member involved. Clearly explain what the issue is and provide concrete examples. Offer your support and resources to help them improve. Most importantly, express confidence in their ability to improve. This can go a long way in motivating them to address the problem.
Navigating rough seas effectively is one of the key tips for rookie managers. It can be challenging, but with patience, empathy, and clear communication, you can turn these situations into opportunities for growth and learning. For more advice on managing your time and responsibilities effectively, check out our best time management tips.
Seeking Support and Continuing Your Growth
Stepping into a managerial role for the first time can feel like navigating uncharted territory. But remember, you're not alone! There are countless resources and strategies to guide your journey. Let's explore how leaning on other leaders, investing in professional development, and embracing continuous improvement can set you up for success.
11. Learn from Other Managers
One of the most valuable resources you have are theother, more seasoned managers. They've been in your shoes and can offer a treasure trove of knowledge from their personal experiences.
Don't hesitate to ask for advice or insights—they'll likely be more than willing to share. Seek out a mentor if possible. This can be someone within your company or in your professional network who has a leadership style that you admire.
12. Invest in Professional Development
Your growth as a manager should be ongoing. This means consistently seeking out opportunities to enhance your skills and broaden your knowledge. Consider attending workshops, seminars, or training sessions specifically designed for new managers. These can provide you with valuable tools and strategies to manage your crew effectively.
Reading management books or listening to leadership podcasts can also be beneficial. These resources can provide you with fresh perspectives and innovative approaches to common management challenges. And of course, don't forget online resources. Check out our article on best time management tips for strategies that can help you manage your workload more effectively.
13. Embrace Continuous Improvement
Remember, nobody's perfect. As a manager, you're bound to make mistakes. But that's okay! What's important is that you learn from these experiences and use them as opportunities for growth. This mindset of continuous improvement will not only benefit you personally, but it can also set a positive example for your crew.
Set aside time for self-reflection. Consider your successes and failures. What worked well? What could have been done differently? How can you apply these learnings to future situations? This self-awareness and willingness to improve are key to becoming a successful manager.
As you progress on your managerial journey, remember that growth and learning are continuous processes. By seeking guidance from others, investing in your professional development, and embracing a mindset of continuous improvement, you'll be well on your way to becoming an effective and respected leader.