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7 Tips for First-Time Managers

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Posted by: David Garcia January 16, 2024

Congratulations! You’ve finally taken the step from “team member” to manager. This is a major stepping stone for your career. 

While all new managers make mistakes, a little preparation can go a long way toward helping you hit the ground running. 

Read on to learn seven straightforward tips to help impress your supervisor, build rapport with your team, and inspire them for success.

1. Build a culture of continuous feedback 

New managers make the mistake of never asking for feedback from their teams. Like any other role, managers should continuously look for ways to improve. 

Set up weekly or bi-weekly 1:1 meetings with your team to foster open communication. Check-in with them about their challenges and how you can better support them to do their best work. 

Ask questions to help guide the conversation, such as: 

  • Does my communication style work for you? 
  • Do you have enough time to complete tasks? 
  • What type of training, guidance, or support do you need to overcome your current roadblocks? 

You also want to build a culture where you can give constructive feedback based on your employee’s performance. The easiest way is to track OKRs that are relevant to their role and align with project milestones. This allows you to give data-based feedback and avoid subjective criticism that could make employees feel attacked. Then, schedule project performance meetings to identify what went well and areas for improvement. 

2. Create team rituals to build trust 

Accomplishing team goals can’t be done by individual talent alone. It requires a unified team to pitch their ideas and work as a single unit. 

That’s why high-performing teams use rituals to help build trust and bonds with co-workers. When teams feel comfortable with each other, communication improves, making it easier for individuals to work together and achieve a common goal. 

Here are examples of team rituals you can try: 

  • Break the ice: Use icebreaker questions before each meeting, to get to know your co-workers better. 
  • 10-minute standups: Convene a daily standup huddle to set priorities for the day. Have each person voice the main priority that they must get done. 
  • Leadership boards: Use leadership boards to gamify your work goals. Give prizes and rewards to team members that exceed their set-out milestones. 
  • Quarterly team retreats: With remote work culture spreading, face-to-face communication can do wonders for engagement and morale. Plan a get-together, like attending a sports outing or planning a happy hour.

3. Learn to delegate 

Learning to delegate and let go of control can be challenging, especially for managers who were internally promoted. 

First-time managers are reluctant to delegate work due to physiological bias, thinking that work under their supervision is better. By delegating work, you can lighten your load and help your team members grow. 

Start by delegating repetitive work that you likely did in your previous role. Then, empower your team by assigning them more challenging projects to tackle. In your 1:1 meetings, learn about their career aspirations and interests. Linking their tasks to their professional goals will make them happier and more motivated.

4. Avoid micromanaging and empower your team to problem-solve 

We’ve all dealt with micromanagers at some point in our lives. There’s a good chance you didn’t like it, and neither will your team. 

A micromanager is a boss who operates with excessive control. 33% of employees feel undervalued at work, which can be caused by micromanagement. 

A better approach is to perform routine check-ins rather than monitoring employees’ every move. Institute an open-door policy allowing employees to receive support and have their voices heard. 

Give your employees some autonomy to have creative control or input in projects. Rather than needing your constant input, you can entrust them to make decisions and creatively problem-solve. As a result, employees will take more initiative, and your team will likely see better performance and productivity. 

Then, use open-ended questions and active listening to help them evaluate their outcomes to make better decisions over time. 

5. Implement changes to improve team efficiency 

When landing a new managerial role, one of your first objectives should be to improve team productivity. Besides building a positive work environment, you need to audit the existing processes. 

Most workers spend their time on “workaround work” rather than core job functions. These are checking emails, unnecessary meetings, and of course, coffee breaks! 

You can immediately drive productivity by implementing changes in your existing workflows, such as:

  • Eliminate unnecessary meetings. Instead of scheduling team updates, send a project status report. Have team members come up with talking points about their challenges before planning a meeting. 
  • Have clear standard operating procedures. SOPs provide clarity to remove any ambiguity. They help to produce consistent quality and streamline processes for employees. 
  • Leverage each individual’s strengths when assigning work. Each employee has strengths, weaknesses, and experiences. Giving your team work they find personally rewarding will help to elevate productivity. 

6. Recognize good work and reward high-performing employees 

The manager is the main factor responsible for 70% of the differences in team engagement. The better you can motivate your employees, the more they’ll want to stick around.

Your employee’s attitude also can make or break your team. A disruptive employee can gossip and even influence the performance of other co-workers. 

The easiest way to make your team members feel valued is through praise. It doesn’t cost you a dime, but a genuine compliment can show that you care and motivate them to keep doing good work. 

Coordinating financial incentives with your HR team is also a great motivation. Low-cost rewards like gift cards, cash prizes, dinners, or trophies can often feel “unexpected,” which speaks to the serendipity of those incentives. Compared to salary increases, these expenses are a drop in the bucket that can drastically improve productivity and bottom-line revenue. 

7. Invest in your people

More people are quitting their jobs than ever before. Gone are the days of working for a single company, retiring with their pension. Studies have cited a lack of advancements as one of the top reasons. 

Investing in people means providing training and upskilling opportunities. This keeps workers more engaged since they’re not stuck doing mundane tasks. 

Also, it shows employees you’re investing in their learning, allowing them to get paid to learn. Thus, you’re helping to reduce employee turnover rates, which reduces costs and allows you to grow talent from within to further innovation and productivity. 

Use various training methods, such as in-person mentorship, on-the-job training, and online courses. As a manager, your best bet is to assign new projects outside their typical scope of work and provide guidance and clear SOPs to coach them through the process. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Should You Do as a First-Time Manager?

Before starting your new role, take time to learn about management styles and how to motivate your team. Book meetings with your reports to better understand their strengths, goals, concerns, and ideas. Be willing to listen to their feedback and offer them support when needed. 

What Should a Manager Do in the First 30 Days?

Your first 30 days as a first-time manager set the tone for the rest of your time at the company. Start on the right foot by meeting with your new team to discuss expectations, management styles, and goals. Regular 1:1 meetings provide opportunities for feedback and identify challenges.

How Do You Train a First-Time Manager?

First-time managers often excel with technical skills but must learn soft skills to lead high-performing teams. HR departments can provide leadership training that exposes managers to different management styles. Your leadership training should teach effective communication, conflict resolution, proper delegation, and motivation techniques to engage team members. 

Final Thoughts

Stepping into a new managerial role can have you second-guessing yourself at times. But as long as you’re committed to learning and honing your leadership skills, you’re allowed to make a mistake or two. 

With all that you have to contend with as a first-time manager, make the hiring process less work for you. ScoutLogic offers background check services to help you focus on finding great talent without worrying about potential red flags. You can spend your time evaluating talent, and we’ll handle the rest.

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