November 20, 2018

New manager? Here’s what no one told you.

Lydia Bowers, Bravely Pro

Congratulations — you’re a manager now. Whether you’ve been promoted internally or accepted a new job as a leader of a team, your day-to-day is probably going to start looking pretty different. So how can you set yourself (and your new direct reports) up for success?

Take inventory of your strengths…

It’s easy to be overwhelmed when you assume new responsibilities. Remind yourself that you’re in this new role because you earned it! Take a minute and reflect on the qualities and skills that have helped you get where you are. As a leader, it’s important to be aware of your strengths, especially when situations get challenging. Go into this new position feeling confident and try not to let nerves throw you off your game.

… and of your weaknesses.

At the same time, remember that management is a skill. People rarely talk about the fact that the skills that led to your promotion aren’t necessarily going to make you a good manager — being a great individual contributor is different than being a great leader. Start by short list of the skills that you want to build (seriously, write it down!). Maybe it’s communication, maybe it’s delegation, maybe it’s conflict resolution. Then ask your boss, a mentor, or a trusted peer to help you develop a plan that will hold you accountable for your growth.

Prepare for the low points.

Now is the time to acknowledge you’re probably going to misstep at some point — and that’s okay. Perhaps you’ll lose patience with a direct report and say something unprofessional. Perhaps you’ll make the wrong judgement call. Unfortunately, there’s no real way to prevent it. Get comfortable with the inevitable now so that you can approach the situation as a learning opportunity rather than a disaster. Then, rather than being paralyzed when it happens, you’ll be prepared to respond and grow from the experience.

Focus on your team.

Any manager will tell you that the trust you build with your direct reports, and their confidence in you as their leader, is critical to your success. Think about some “early wins” that can establish your credibility and help you establish strong relationships from the start. Is there something they’ve been collectively struggling with or a problem they’ve been unable to solve? What can you do during your first 90 days as their manager to demonstrate that you care?

As time goes by, continue to check in not only with yourself, but with those who report to you. Asking for feedback is one of the most powerful things that you can do — so make sure you get in the habit of it early.

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