Tips for New Managers

I remember being promoted to a managerial position very early in my career and being nervous about doing well in the new position. What are some things newly minted managers can do to manage their staff successfully?

“Everyone who’s been through it agrees: The leap from individual team member to manager is huge,” says leadership consultant and coach Grace Judson. “One of my clients threw her hands in the air and cried, ‘My whole world is upside down!’ — and that’s a very real description of the experience.”

As Judson explains, even CEOs of multinational companies often feel they’re unqualified. “In a New York Times interview, Howard Schultz — past CEO of Starbucks — said, ‘Very few people, whether you’ve been in that job before or not, get into the seat and believe today that they are now qualified to be the C.E.O. They’re not going to tell you that, but it’s true. So everyone you meet has a level of insecurity.’ It’s OK to feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. Just don’t get stuck there.”

Kenny Trinh, CEO of the two-year-old media startup Netbooknews, says he understands the struggle.

“Our team moved from an apartment with five people to a co-working space with 10 people,” recalls Trinh. “Managing people is not easy and not that hard either if you really have the passion for it.”

So, what is a new manager to do? Judson and Trinh offer these tips to help anyone struggling to adjust to their new role.

–Learn how to delegate. “Empower your team to take on responsibilities and give them the tools to be successful,” Trinh says. “Everyone wants to contribute to the company’s success — your job is to provide leadership to make that happen.”

And while that can be hard to do, it’s essential to your success. “Delegation is hard when you’re used to doing things yourself. What if the person you’re delegating to does it wrong — or even differently?” Judson adds. “But it’s also a great way to show your team that you want them to learn and grow and develop their own professional careers.”

–Share the credit. Make sure everyone knows your employees were instrumental in getting the job done — and let them know you appreciate their dedication.

–Communicate. That means taking time to talk to team members face-to-face, when possible. “Show them you care and inform them of the company’s bigger picture,” Trinh says. “You’ll soon have a loyal, productive team. Solid communication skills can make an average manager great.”

–Think strategically and understand the big picture. “Strategic thinking is tough for new managers because they’ve always been focused on the tactical tasks they were responsible for completing, Judson says. Finishing work is important, of course. “But learning to see the big picture and understand how the tasks are relevant for achieving strategic goals is crucial if you’re going to advance in your management role,” she stresses.

–Be an example: Your team will be watching you carefully, so make sure your words and actions match your values. Also make sure you handle problems and stress in a calm and positive manner, Trinh advises.

–Don’t think employees are perfect. “It will take time to learn your employees’ strengths, weaknesses, and idiosyncrasies — and they all have them,” Trinh says. “If you don’t expect perfection, you won’t be disappointed.”

–Don’t try to do it all. No matter how hard you try, you can’t be everywhere and do everything you might think you should do. “It may be tempting to think that you have to do everything, or projects will fail and reflect badly on you,” Trinh says. But, ultimately, that isn’t your role. Instead, “Create an environment where your team is responsible for day-to-day activities, and you provide the leadership and vision,” Trinh concludes.

(Article written by Kathleen Furore)