But as with so many things in life, the devil’s in the details. Management is an entirely different ball game than grinding tasks out on your own day to day. To be effective, managers must inspire their direct reports to greatness, and this entails taking on the role of mediator, advocate, leader, mentor, and more — all rolled into one.
If it sounds overwhelming, don’t fret. Just keep these six tips in mind, and you’ll improve your leadership qualities in no time.
Much of a company’s training budget is often spent on individual contributors, in the hopes that managers will magically know what to do on their own. If you’re lucky enough to work for an organization that offers management training, take advantage of it. If not, block out some time in your schedule to read blog posts, take online courses, or attend conferences to learn the ins and outs of management.
Regardless of whether you’ve worked with your new direct reports as colleagues for the last five years or you met them yesterday, you need to ask them a lot of questions when you move into management. Strive to understand how your employees think about their roles and how you can help them remove obstacles and capitalize on opportunities.
Here are some questions to ask:
Performance review time will go a lot more smoothly if you define clear goals from the start. Collaborate with the employee to brainstorm a few SMART goals, and check on progress regularly.
When you’re the manager, people look to you to determine how they should act whether you like it or not. With this in mind, set an example for your team with your behavior. If you’d like your direct reports to work hard and meet their deadlines, then you’d better not seek extensions from your boss. If you’d like them to be adaptable to change, don’t balk when a new company policy gets rolled out.
Feedback shouldn’t just be delivered from manager to employee — it should also flow the other way. Remember: you can’t get better as a manager if you don’t get feedback.
Because direct reports might feel uncomfortable giving their manager feedback off the cuff, solicit it from them in the way they’d prefer to deliver it. For example, consider rolling out an anonymous survey, or organize skip-level feedback sessions where employees share their thoughts with your manager.
If you’re a new manager, you’re going to make mistakes — and that’s okay. Like anything else, management is a skill that takes time to learn. If you slip up, simply acknowledge your gaffe to your employees, make it clear that you’re dedicated to improving, and move on.
Management can present a world of new challenges and can be intimidating to newly minted leaders. But keep in mind that the best way to learn how to be a great manager is to start managing. Practice building your management muscle little by little by keeping these six tips in mind.