Tips For New Managers

By Azzy Aslam

Habits, Routines, & Behaviours

30 Jun, 2021

Tips For New Managers

I thought I was ready for my management role. How wrong I was. Going from being a salesperson to a sales manager leading a team of professionals was different to what I had imagined, and what I had been told.

These 12 tips for new manager’s is the place to start. And the first step is to stop doing the job you did before. Focus on learning and becoming a manager and a leader.  Be clear on what you want from the role, and what you will give to the role, and more importantly what you give to the team you are about to lead. Although there will be processes and systems you will have to learn and implement, the biggest part will be about people. Your team. Build your interpersonal skills to lead your team so you can help them become superstars. Your success is largely dependent on your teams success.

It’s so easy to fall back on what you did before and what you were good at. Making the transition to leading a team takes some planning and time. Below are the key things which I believe will make your transition effective. It’s also the things which I wish I had known when I made the move to management.

The points below are aimed at people in mid to large enterprises where there is a ‘career ladder’. The same approach may not apply for start-ups or small businesses.

What I go through below is content taken from my ‘management training programme’, but I also share my experience when I made the transition. So, it’s not just theory, it includes real practical experience.

 

1.          Stop Doing Your Old Job

When you start a new role, it can take 2 -3 months to settle in. You will get to know the new ropes, get to know the processes, and to know the people you will be working within your department or other parts of the business.

When you step up to a management role, the chances are you haven’t had any management training. For most of us, the management training begins after we have started managing and leading a team.

It can take anything from 6 months to over a year to start becoming a manager, and that’s just getting to grips with the role at a foundational level. During this time, you find managers continue doing the job they were doing before.

I am assuming here that your new management role is a full-time role and not one of those hybrids where the company expects you to keep doing some of your old job as well as the responsibility of leading a team.

This tends to happen often in sales roles. A good salesperson is promoted to being a sales manager but is expected to carry a personal sales target too. The reality is, you have just lost a good salesperson, and got a poor manager.

This in my opinion defeats the object of developing someone to become a good leader and manager. (I will probably write more about this in a different blog post.)

Anyhow, back to the transition to becoming a manager. Because you were good at the job before your promotion, there is a tendency for new managers to keep doing their old job. This is also normal for humans in general – we stick to, and fall back onto, what we are or were good at.

Taking the example of a newly promoted sales professional, you will find they will probably:

  • Attempt to keep selling into their old accounts.
  • Start telling their team members how to sell – this is the best way to alienate people and much of your team.
  • Try to show their expertise as a salesperson by telling the team members on how to do their jobs.
  • Underestimate the amount of work it will take to do other parts of their job – reports, updates for their manager(s), attending management meetings, actions from these meeting and their managers, reviews with their team members, team meetings, recruitment, dealing with issues (people, accounts, incidents, behaviours etc…)
  • Have a totally different view of what they think being a manager means to the reality – which at some point this will become clear, or be told they are not doing their job.

The newly appointed manager will fall back to the things they were good at, and in this example, being a salesperson.

Of course, it isn’t easy to simply move to being a salesperson one day and a manager the next. However, the two things you must do in the first 4 weeks is:

  • Move away from the role you did before – stop being the salesperson, project manager, operator, clerk, etc.
  • Make a list of and start learning all the new responsibilities you now have.

 

2.          Identify What You Want from The New Role

It’s easy to get stuck in with doing what you think is wanted for the new role. As I said above, make a list of the new responsibilities which go with the new management role and start working out what you need to know, understand, and learn. This will help you build your new skills and experience.

However, there is one more thing you can do early on. Work out what you want to gain from the new role. If you made the list of new responsibilities, this will help you determine what you want from this role.

Every job/role is a two-way street. There are things you give to the role and the company, and there are things you get in return. We focus very much on what we can give to the company and not enough on what we need or want from the role.

One great way to do this is to think ahead. Think of the next job after this new management role. What experience, skills, qualification, will you need for the role after this one?

This will help you determine what you need to learn and develop during the tenure of this new role. This may seem ambitious, but this is exactly how to build your career. Plan ahead.

If you don’t plan, and your manager doesn’t help you, then who will? It’s purely down to you to manage and grow your career.

So, what will you need to gain from this new role to help you with the next promotion? You can then identify:

  • The experience you need to gain.
  • The skills you must build.
  • The training you will need – courses, books, talks, events, etc.
    • What will you expect the business to do for you and what will you do for yourself?
  • Will you want a mentor?
  • Perhaps you need a coach.
  • What will you want from your manager – will they be able to help with mentoring ad coaching you?

This is not an exhaustive list, and it will become clearer as you learn and grow into your role. Start with something and add to it as you get better and learn more about what the role needs and what you want next.

In essence, build your own development and career plan.

90-Day Plan

3.          Create Your 90-Day Plan.

Plan to succeed in your new role. As with anything which it important, create a plan. Not a long-term plan as you don’t really know how things will map out just yet, but a short term 90-day plan.

Ideally your manager will be helping you put in place a plan to help you succeed. If they haven’t offered to do this in the first two weeks, get a meeting scheduled and ask them to go through what they expect from you, and your team, in the next 90 days, broken down by 4 weeks (or monthly).

With or without your manager build a plan for the next 90 days. Work out what you and the team need to achieve every 4 weeks. Break this down to what are the actions/activities, and your habits and routines to get you there.

Learn about how habits (and routines) are formedHERE

 

4.          Build a Track, Measure, Adjust system

This should be part of your plan above, but I wanted to give it a separate focus. Often, we create plans with clear actions, but we forget to put in place a way to track and measure our progress.

When you have an effective tracking system, every day or at least every week you will get feedback on whether you are heading in the right direction.

You will get input and can decide if adjustments need to be made. Whether you have missed something or are well on the way to overachieving.

Based on the actions, activities, and the habits and routines you put in place, you can work out what to measure so you keep moving forward. This is one way to get you to where you want to be in your 90-day plan, and you can use this as a template for your next 90-day plan!

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Keep it simple. Track the underlying and key actions which keep you moving according to your plan.

 

 

Management vs. Leadership

5.          The Difference between Management and Leadership

The first 4 points above have focused on you. These will set the direction for you. The next biggest part is how you lead your team.

One of the biggest differences you can make to your team, to your goal, and to you is to be clear about the difference between managing and leading.

‘Management’ is goal focused with short term outcomes, administering, and implementing rules, processes, and systems, and minimising the risks to the business.

‘Leadership’ tends to be defined as being inspirational, creating a vision, leading change, having a longer-term outlook, and taking some level of risk when making changes.

As you can see ‘management’ and ‘leadership’ may not always fit nicely together and this makes the job of the manager tougher. One (leadership) is about risk taking, change, and inspiration, yet the other(management) is about ‘keeping the ship stable’, short term focus, managing risks, and making sure the business functions each day.

The reason I bring your attention to the two is you may well be told you need to be inspirational, a leader in your new job as a manager. However, what is needed is for you to manage the day to day running of the team, and more than likely you will be measured against short term goals and objectives.

There is nothing wrong in learning how to manage rather than how to lead. Because you will need to understand the processes & systems, and this is the first step in managing. It’s not different to learning anything new to you.

First you learn the basics, the rules, the structures, and methods (management). Once you understand how things work and you get good at the basics you can then expand to testing the boundaries, understanding the effects before attempting something new, and how to step into new ways of doing things (leadership).

So, learn the processes, the tools, the systems, and become great at managing the short-term risks. It will take about a year or so before you can start to push the boundaries a little and start to work out what leadership is all about.

Once again, use the 90-day plan and the track and measure system to focus on what you need to learn how to manage effectively, before figuring out the qualities you need to start showing leadership potential.

 

6.          Develop a Coaching Approach to Your Management

You are leading a team of professionals. You may well have been part of the team before. They have skills to do their job. So don’t start by trying to teach them what to do. They believe they already know – and the reality is, they do.

One of the best ways to help your team and free up time to do the other management activities you now have is to develop a coaching approach. What does this mean? What exactly is coaching?

Briefly, coaching is about getting the individuals (and the team at times) to come up with the answers and solutions to what needs to be done. It may feel easier to simply tell people what to do, and there will be occasions when that is exactly what is needed.

If you can learn the art of questions used in a coaching approach you will free up a lot of your time to work on the other management tasks which you will be expected to do.

Coaching cuts across both management and leadership and it’s techniques compliment both. Good coaching practices enable a greater environment of trust.

You can either learn some of the tools and techniques in coaching through books and short courses or go for a full-blown course and accreditation. The latter will take between 12 – 18 months from reputable organisations – best avoid the weekend coaching certificate ads for $25 if you really want to be an effective and professional coaching manager!

If you want to know about coaching training, then drop me a note on the contact page and I’ll happily point you in the right direction.

 

7.          Make the Individuals in Your Team become Superstars.

One of the best pieces of advice I got from an experienced manager was, “your job is to make the people in your team, and the team as a whole, superstars”.

It made me re-think my role, my objective as a manager. I know the first few points above talk very much about what’s in it for you, and they are important, so you know the direction you are setting for yourself.

A big part of what you will achieve for yourself, will come from how well your team performs and how the individuals within your team develop and grow.

Some managers believe you are there to tell them what to do. You will soon learn that you are there to help them and smooth the way for them to do their jobs more effectively. And how you help each person will vary according to their needs – see the next point below.

Remember – your job is to make the individuals in your team, superstars. Because when your team and the individuals become high performers, you too will achieve your goals. Your success is now intricately linked on how effective the individuals are, and how well the team performs.

 

8.          Treat People Equitably, Manage Each Differently.

Following on from the above this is where it becomes interesting. Read the heading again. What does it mean?

The first part is all about treating each person fairly and equitably as the next. If you are going to praise someone for an achievement, then make sure you praise the next person when they achieve something similar. This may sound simple and straightforward, but so many times it just isn’t done fairly.

If you’re going to reprimand someone for something which breached rules, protocol, ethics etc, then make sure you reprimand the next person if they breached similar standards.

It is vital you treat everyone equitably.

The next part of the heading is about what help, and support individuals need. Everyone is different. Everyone in your team will have a different background, different experiences, different skills, different personal goals, and objectives, and most definitely a different outlook in life, and the job!

Just because they have all been on the same training course doesn’t mean they have all learned the same thing. How we learn is different for each person.

So, to make people into superstars you must find out, and support, what they need to be marginally better each day, each week, each month.

Find out what they are good at and how can you help them be even better. This may be through additional training. It may be through your coaching. It may be through a new challenge you can delegate to them.

Also find out what areas they need to develop. Again, ask yourself how you can help them achieve this and put into a plan with them and make it happen.

Some people may want to be left alone to get on with their role and will only want you involved for a specific reason. Others may require more of your time to discuss strategy and tactics as they may be less experienced.

Understand the different levels and types of support your team members need. You can then build plans to help people develop and grow so they need less of your time and support as they grow their expertise and skills.

This is not an easy task. It needs for you to be open minded, conscious of people’s requirements, and a huge amount of patience! And don’t forget the first of part the heading – treat everyone equitably, without this you will be wasting your time with trying to manage them differently.

 

Give Praise

9.          Look for Reasons to Praise People

Sounds simple, however, this takes conscious effort.

We are programmed to see things which are a danger, a threat, or things which don’t go our way. So, when the project didn’t finish on time, or was over budget, or the deal didn’t close, we notice. We then act, we say something, which usually is a reprimand (see below).

If the only time we say something is when things have gone wrong or not to plan, the people around you will become used to your behaviour, and way of responding (or not). They will ‘keep their head down’, not say much when you ask for input. Barriers will be raised.

As humans, how we behave determines how others behave towards you. As a manager, who has a level of authority, how you behave will have a noticeable effect on how your team behave towards you.

Look for opportunities, situations, moments where praise is justified, and someone is openly praised. As I said earlier, this will take conscious effort.

When you get a report sent on time or even before the deadline with exactly the details you asked for – praise them.  When customers give you feedback about the excellent way they were treated by one of your team, then praise them.   When the deal closed in the timeframe stated by the salesperson, then praise them.

By actively and consciously praising people, you are reinforcing the positive behaviours you want. People will remember the praise and how it, and you, made them feel. Remember point 9 above, make sure it is equitable! A little more about how to give praise is outlined below.

 

10.        How to Praise Someone For Their Work

Most of us are not great at giving praise, and we are not good at accepting praise either.  It’s time to change this. Learn and practise in giving praise.

Here’s a good way to praise someone:

  • Give praise immediately. Or as close to the time the actions took place. This helps with reinforcing positive behaviours. If a project finishes on time in week 1 of a month, then give praise as soon as you are made aware – which I hope is within 24 hours. Giving praise in person is ideal, otherwise pick up the phone as soon as possible.
  • Tell the person What they did well. Be specific about what it is you are praising. Where possible identify the behaviours rather than just praising the person.
  • Tell them how good it makes you feel! Share your happiness with them. Be genuine – don’t fake it, they will know. You can add the value it is to the team, the department, or business. But keep it genuine.
  • Pause to let the other person respond or simply acknowledge the good work they have done. We are not good when it comes to pauses and silence in a conversation. Work on allowing the short pause to have a positive effect in this case.
  • Finish by encouraging them to do more of the same.

You may be thinking this ‘process’ looks familiar. If you have children, you will recognise it. Yes, this is exactly what we do with our kids when they bring you the picture of a dinosaur they have carefully drawn and didn’t get crayon marks all over the table.

This is not to suggest you treat your team like children. It does demonstrate that even as adults praise is important and it does affect our behaviours.

Becoming the best manager in the world, involves understanding human behaviours. Start learning!

 

11.        How to Reprimand Promptly, and Fairly

If we can be slow to give praise, giving reprimands or bad news often are even slower.

Being a manager means you will have to deal with behaviours which need to be reprimanded. If you become good at giving praise immediately this may well, make you a ‘likeable’ person/manager but doesn’t necessarily make you a great manager.

You must be able to reprimand someone in a manner which is fair and equitable. But it must be done. Like giving praise, below is the process you can use for reprimands:

  • Reprimand immediately. Or as close to the time of the actions as possible. This is important. It’s no good waiting till the end of the month (perhaps 3 weeks later) in a review to ‘bring up’ something which breached standards, expectations, ethics etc.
  • Tell them clearly, in no uncertain terms, what they did wrong. It’s not about being blunt. It’s about being clear about what was wrong and what they did which was wrong.
  • Be specific about the issue and identify the behaviours which are being reprimanded.
  • Tell them how you feel about what they did wrong.
  • Keep it short, specific, and factual (Keep emotions out of it)
  • Pause to give time for your words to filter through to them.
  • Now it’s time to show support for the person – let them know you think well of them as a person but not their performance/actions/behaviours in this instance.
  • Remind them how much you value them – keep it short.
  • Let it go…it’s over. You and your team member have plenty of other things to focus on moving forward.

The last point is important. Do let it go. It’s done. If you bring it up regularly it will negatively affect the person’s performance and motivation.

You will have to learn to address the issue, conduct the reprimand, and then let it go.

 

12.        Don’t be Afraid to Let People Leave Your Team.

As a new manager taking over the reins for your team, one of the things you will have to accept is people will leave the team. It will be for a whole variety of reasons and hopefully most of them will not be because they don’t want to work for you. However, there will be someone who will leave or want to leave for exactly that reason. It’s life.

You can either accept this fact or waste your time attempting to keep people who really don’t want to stay. They may put off their decision to leave for the moment, but experience tells me they will always be on the lookout for their next move.

Best thing to do is be a part of such moves. This way you have some level of control in the timing of when people leave and when you can hire replacements or new additions.

This also covers people who maybe your best fans or best performers, but it’s time for them to take a step up in their careers. Everyone has personal objectives when it comes to their careers and life.

You can either be an active participant in helping people achieve their career goals, or constantly worry someone will come in one day and hand in their letter of resignation.

Consider your team like a jigsaw. Hopefully all the pieces fit well together. If, as in points 7 and 8 above, you are actively involved with your team, you will get to know their aspirations. If you help them to achieve those aspirations, you have advance notice of when you need to add a new team member.

You can also give other team members opportunities to step up to new challenges when a gap appears due to someone leaving.

Most managers spend too much time and effort trying to keep a team together rather than working out how to keep their team refreshed with new people, and helping the current team members grow, develop, and move to bigger and better things for them.

Nothing remains static. Neither do teams and team members!

It’s your job to actively grow and develop each of your team.

 

Summary

If you have reached this point, I hope the above was useful. I know there’s a lot covered. However, you don’t have to do them all at the same time. I tried to list them in an order which you can work through, point by point, one after the other. So, start at the beginning and work your way down the list.

I believe these points are useful for managers in their first 6 months.  There are plenty of other things new managers can do, and I will be writing part two to cover them.

 

Management Training Programme

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, this approach is taken from the “New Manager’s Training Programme” I put together for SME companies. It helps their new and budding managers to get started in their new roles as managers and leaders of a team.

Unlike the standard management training, my approach takes a coaching approach. I don’t lock attendees into a room (or virtual class) for a day, two days, or a week.

The programme is broken into 2 hours sessions. Usually there are 4 sessions, run over 6 weeks. Focused on two topics in each session. In between the sessions there in implementation exercises, a self-review, and the important part, one-on-one coaching sessions each attendee.

Far more is learned, implemented, and customised to each attendee with this approach. Giving budding managers a big step up in their management career.

If you want to know more about the management training programme, then send me your details through the contact page

 

 

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