It’s one thing to manage your career. With only yourself and your output to care for, you are able to work quietly while working collaboratively when necessary. But when you enter a management role, you willingly accept responsibility for the careers of those below you. Sure, you might not make all the decisions regarding how they develop, but you still need to make sure they’re able to demonstrate and develop their potential. A bad manager can set a career back years, while a great manager can help an employee flourish.
That’s a lot to take on. Of course, managers tend to be paid higher and receive better salaries, but there’s a reason for that. Moreover, finding your “management style” can feel as confusing as finding your painting style – unless you’re well-versed in the rules of painting, defining how you subvert them isn’t always an easy task.
With that in mind, let’s consider advice for jumping into your management role and what that might look like in the long run.
Outline Your Managerial Responsibilities
To begin with, it’s vital to be fully aware of what a management role means in your particular place of employment. This can differ from business to business in small, marginal ways. Moreover, your management role can depend on what level of the business you’re at.
A manager of part of a department will have less responsibility than the manager of an entire department, while a regional manager will look over several places of employment.
Of course, you’re unlikely to skip ten levels of promotion in your role, but it’s still important to understand exactly what and who you’re responsible for, as well as the intricacies of the roles you manage. Outlining helps you avoid confusion or working in areas you won’t need to. Time is a vital resource here, after all.
Setting Clear Expectations
When you greet the team you’ll be managing (perhaps you’ve known them before your promotion, but its okay if you don’t), it’s important to be direct and focused on what you expect from them.
Start by introducing yourself, what your goals for the department are, what tasks you have to implement, what changes are being made, and how you like to manage. Tell them about your open door policy, zero tolerance policy for harassment, and even your progressive or necessary ideals, like not having to come in outside of work hours, and not being penalized for not responding to emails outside of work.
Exploring Your Leadership Style
You don’t have to jump into your management shoes and be perfect from day one. This is a learning process much like anything else. Here you get to explore what kind of leadership style you prefer. Are you hands-on, focused, and dedicated to reviewing every task from your team? Or do you prefer to delegate, trust, balance out your assignments, and give your team time to breathe?
Perhaps a slow combination of the two, when and where needed, is key. But there are other things to plan for. How do you discipline a staff member who may have breached their contract or caused undue harm to your operational planning? How can you help an employee who may have been bereaved slowly return to work? All of these situations can play out, sometimes even in your first year, and it’s important to be clear on how to achieve it.
A New Definition Of “Friendly”
Everyone wants to connect with their colleagues at work, or at the very least hold a sense of mutual respect and warmth that sustains your time there. After all, for all the hours we spend with our colleagues, it’s nice to have mutual and professional respect.
Yet it’s also true that relationships change when you have authority over someone. We know this in our personal lives. For example, it’s why our parents can not only be our friends, but also have valid input and care in our lives, and this can even persist into adulthood.
As such, a manager should try to avoid becoming “liked” on a peer level with those they manage. That doesn’t mean you’re not a peer, nor better than anyone you manage, but it does mean you have to have that vestigial semblance of respect. This means defining how you might be seen after work, socializing in more formal settings, not being afraid to give instructions, and not letting your team get away with slacking.
It can be hard to adapt to this, especially if you’ve been promoted over others you once worked aside. But it’s very easy to see when a manager hopes to be liked more than they hope to be functional in their role, and ironically, this loses the respect needed to work with confidence.
Get To Know Your Software
Ultimately, any professional is only as good as the tools they use. An expert luthier can’t create beautiful guitars without his workshop. For this reason, getting to know the management software you use, inside and out, can help you better assign tasks, manage schedules, and oversee the development of your department.
If your software is woefully failing to provide the adaptability you need, especially if you manage both in-office and field personnel, a field service app could be the best approach to integrate. In this way, pitching your higher-ups about the needs of your department could be a fantastic step to revolutionize the department.
After all, a manager is not only a cog in the greater machine of the business, but someone expected to provide insight based on the work they conduct and to report methods of improved optimization and delivery over time. Discussing software and management needs, and clearly demonstrating where the current model is no longer fit for purpose, can make a massive difference in that regard.
Feedback & Recognition Techniques
So far we’ve discussed how to delegate authority, how to be respected, how to manage through software, and how to consider your team from the top down. But the truth is that without feedback to help orient your team in the right direction, they can never be certain if their actions are dependable and correct.
This is why it’s so important to give corrective feedback where necessary. You can bake this into your process by implementing monthly meetups in which you give pointers and ask your staff to raise issues they’ve experienced.
This can, in some ways, lead you to review your management. Perhaps you failed to make something clear that week, and this means a staff member was unable to achieve the performance you had expected of them. Reading your management style in the understanding of your team is hard to achieve unless you’re also giving them feedback and discussing points of a mutual process.
In addition, recognizing great work is a vital element of management. Keep your praise where it matters, because if you constantly shower your team with praise, they don’t respect or care for it. But a helpful manager who notices, comments, and points to good work can motivate a team like nothing else.
Mastering Decision-Making Skills
Part of being a manager means having the courage to make decisions. This also means making decisions that aren’t altogether popular, but those that need to be made. It also means willingly accepting that from time to time, you’ll make the wrong decision and have to cope with the consequences, especially among your team.
If you’re generally quite an indecisive person, it’s important to try and overcome that now as a vital business development skill. It might be you have to plan schedules, or perhaps assign tasks to certain team members. You might have to decide who is in the wrong in a work dispute based on the evidence and refer that to your HR team, or you might need to take the responsibility for a fault your team has made, because ultimately the buck rests with you.
Keeping these considerations in mind helps you become a robust and attentive manager, someone who is not afraid to take a stand, and someone who willingly accepts the consequences of a decision. Ultimately, people respect you more for that approach than they do for someone who is overcautious and drags the whole team down with them as a result.
Creating A Positive Atmosphere
Have you ever suffered a manager who looks over your shoulder, tries to micromanage every task you complete, and generally feels like they’re looking to trip you up instead of develop you? Jumping into your first management role, then, requires you to watch out for these behaviors, especially if you find yourself having these personality traits.
Creating a positive atmosphere is about trust, not sweating the small stuff, believing in your team, and remaining their biggest advocate. If you can do that, you can be certain they’ll try to do their best work for you, and with a no-tolerance approach, you can stamp out conflict or interpersonal issues before they develop.
With this advice, you’re certain to jump into your first management role with dignity.