The Five Things You Must Do When You First Become a Manager

By Heather Foley

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Just been promoted to the heady heights of management?  Congratulations. But now what? Well firstly, don’t panic. There are five important things you need to do when you first become a manager.

1. Understand your objectives

In the past, this may have been easy, when you were told what to do. Now you need to make sure that you have clear objectives.  Arrange for a meeting with your boss as soon as possible. In that session, ensure you become aware of all of the objectives you and your team have. Be sure to quantify success measures and timescales so that you know exactly what you need to do to succeed.

It’s also a good idea to follow up the meeting with a summary of the objectives (and their success measures and timescales) in writing so that your boss has an opportunity to correct any mis-understandings and so that you have a written document outlining what you’ve agreed.

2. Pick your team

If you’ve been promoted from your team, you’ll already know their strengths and weaknesses. However, if you’ve been handed a new team, you need to get to know them quickly.

Be clear about the type of people you want and the roles that need to be carried out.  If you have any people who are not right for your team, act quickly. You need to speak with HR about replacing them and recruiting new members. Your success or failure will now lie in the hands of your team, so you can’t afford to shy away from this difficult, but necessary task.

3. Hand over objectives

When you have your team in place, you need to hand over the objectives to them. When you do this, ensure that they are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. Your people will be grateful to know what they need to do to be successful in their roles.

4. Get to know your team

So far, you’ve had to move quickly and make sharp decisions. Remember, though, your job is management. This means that you need to get the most from your team. And the best way to do this is to understand what drives and motivates them.  What career aspirations do they have? What do they like (and dislike) to do? How ambitious are they? This information is invaluable if you are to genuinely help them in their career and get the most from them in the meantime.

5. Be fair, clear and transparent

This is a nervous time for your team. If you want them to be highly productive and efficient, you need to help them to feel stability. Work hard at being transparent and clear at all times. Be supportive in tone and available frequently. It’s also important to be approachable.  Plan social events where you can get to know your team.  Most of all, though, be scrupulously fair and consistent. If people suspect you of being anything other than this, you’ll have an uphill battle.

Becoming a manager is an exciting time, but it can be a nerve-racking one too.  It’s an opportunity for you to lead, perhaps for the first time.  It’s a time when you stop focusing on yourself and start looking at the people you now need to manage.  As recognised by former CEO of GE, Jack Welch, “before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others”.  Good luck in your new role!

 

Heather Foley is a consultant at etsplc.com, an HR consultancy and technology company

 

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