3 Tips To Help First-Time Managers Thrive

by Srikant Chellappa Jun 21,2019

The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

with Srikant Chellappa, CEO

There’s a difference between being good at your job and being a good manager.

However, many employees often arrive at manager positions by virtue of being good at their jobs, and not because they are necessarily good at managers. This is not to say that some of them do not learn on the job and consequently become good managers, but the truth is, most employees are just not groomed to be managers. And if leadership is not something you have necessarily sought out, it can be quite stressful to suddenly find yourself in charge of people.

To paraphrase this feeling, it feels something like this. I’m just a kid. How do I take care of all these other kids? I’m not ready for this responsibility!

It is true that there will be new responsibilities asked of you and you will have to now ensure that work gets done by others, instead of doing it yourself. And you will feel wedged in-between your own employees and your own manager.

However, often the managerial path is a way to spread your wings and test the waters so to speak. It can help you figure out if you want to move laterally or vertically. Whether you would like to continue being an individual contributor or find a way to see how you can contribute to the bigger picture.

With that in mind, here are 5 tips that will help you navigate the trials of being a first-time manager.

Be Open To Learning

Because like it or not, there’s a steep learning curve in going from a contributor to a manager. You might have worked really hard to get promoted as a manager.

In the context of being a manager, learning includes knowing that now you have to approach problems from different angles, you have to take into account people and their personalities, you have to balance the amount of information you are allowed to share with your team and share with your own manager, etc.

There’s a lot of delicate line treading to be done and often enough, it’s so overwhelming that many people find themselves being turned off by the very thought of being a manager.

In cases like these, instead of going it alone, it is better to look to someone else for guidance, like say your own manager, or a mentor, etc.

Also read: 8 Tips To Demonstrate Leadership At Work

Encourage Feedback

Or rather, be open to listening to feedback. The feedback might sometimes come from unexpected quarters, like your own direct reports, a peer or even your manager. Listen to feedback with an open mind and acknowledge what you can do to change and what cannot be done.

However, on the other end of the spectrum, it is important to remember that listening to feedback does not mean you can allow people to undermine your authority. Be it telling your direct report that you expect them to follow certain procedures, or even asking your peers and your own manager not to undermine your authority by sharing conflicting feedback.

Also read: 7 Signs That You’re A Micromanager

Know your Team

Before you to get to managing people, you have to get to know them. And by getting to know, I do not mean in the sense of knowing their deepest darkest secret or fears but rather, gaining an understanding of them, their skill sets, their personality, their way of working, etc. All these factors can help you manage them better because when you know how a direct report works, you can adapt your managerial style to one that suits both of you.

On the other end of the spectrum take heed and ensure that you do not blur boundaries between you and your direct reports. Even if you were friends with them before, you might need to adopt a different stance after becoming a manager. This transition is understandably tough and awkward but regardless, it is one you must make.

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Srikant Chellappa
CEO & Co-Founder of Engagedly

Srikant Chellappa is the Co-Founder and CEO at Engagedly and is a passionate entrepreneur and people leader. He is an author, producer/director of 6 feature films, a music album with his band Manchester Underground, and is the host of The People Strategy Leaders Podcast. He is currently working on his next book, Ikigai at the Workplace, which is slated for release in the fall of 2024.

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