Being a manager for the first time can be overwhelming and comes with a new set of challenges. William Gentry, author of Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work for: A Guide for New Leaders writes,

“Becoming a manager is one of the most stressful and challenging transitions in any career. When you become a manager, everything about your job needs to change – your skill set, the nature of your work relationships, your understanding of what "work" is, and how you see yourself and your organization. You have to operate from a brand-new script, one that's about "we" - ensuring collective success”.

In this article, we share six tips to help you transition into your role as a manager.

1. Know your superpowers and leverage them

2. Lean on to your team for tasks outside your area of expertise

3. Lead by asking questions

4. Know when to switch between democratic and autocratic leadership

5. Don’t shy away from accepting your fault

6. Get feedback from your team

Let’s learn about these in more detail!    

1. Know your superpowers and leverage them

The best managers that I have seen in my career are the ones who are comfortable and secure in how they add value to an organization. In the first few days of being a manager, take some time to reflect on your capabilities and build a list of attributes that are your superpowers. Instead of fussing over what you are not good at, leverage your superpowers when the situation calls for it.  

2. Lean on to your team for tasks outside your area of expertise

It is a common misconception that managers need to know it all and should have answers to everything. Most new managers struggle with this and often put unnecessary pressure on themselves. Use our first tip “Know your superpowers and leverage them” to identify where you add value and let your team be the leaders of their individual space. As a manager, you should focus on coaching your team on how to take a decision or navigate through a situation but depend upon them to implement the guidelines in their space and execute.  

3. Lead by asking questions

Many first-time managers often find themselves in a problem-solving mode. They over index on protecting their team and during that process end up dictating how the work needs to be done by providing solution, next steps, ideas etc. When you see yourself getting into that mode, PAUSE and ask your team, “What do you think about it?” or “What would you suggest we do?”. By doing this, you are guiding your report through the process of problem solving and enabling them to come up with a solution independently in the future.

 

4. Know when to switch between democratic and autocratic leadership

Most people don’t like conflicts in workspace and hence, by nature are inclined towards democratic leadership where the entire group or the team takes a more participative role in decision making. While this a great way to promote inclusion and encourage better contributions from the group, it does not always work and in some cases delays the decision-making process. When the situation demands, don’t shy away from switching to an authoritarian (autocratic) leadership style to get things accomplished quickly and efficiently and taking an independent decision. You can still get inputs and considerations from the group to make an informed decision.          

5. Don’t shy away from accepting your fault

It’s time to take off your workplace armor and be more human in your conversations with the team. This builds trust and a healthy feedback loop of constructive criticism and improvement. Making mistakes or taking a wrong decision is human nature but owning them in front of your team can be tough. To you, this might make you seem vulnerable or week but to your team, it will be encouraging to know that mistakes are embraced and are nothing but an opportunity to improve.  

6. Get feedback from your team

Don’t wait for the year-end reviews to know what is not working well for your team – nip the issue in the bud right away. Leverage your team meetings and your 1:1s with the reports to understand how you can add value to the team, what support does your team need and identify opportunities for improvement. Some managers even setup brown bag sessions with a neutral person (to keep it anonymous) to aggregate feedback from the team and make improvements. Once you have the feedback, make your team a part of the process by having an open discussion and reaching out to the team for ideas/suggestions that you can implement.