You just got promoted? You are new in your manager role? Congratulations!
Especially at the beginning in your new position, you surely don’t want to make any unnecessary mistakes, right? You want to become a good manager.
New as a manager
Yesterday an administrative worker and today you are a team leader or a group leader. That’s great.
But now you think: what do you have to do to be accepted and respected in your new role by your team members as well as by your boss right from the start?
What‘s important especially during the first weeks? What makes the difference? What do you need to keep in mind?
5 most important tips when becoming manager
Here are my five tips for you as a newly appointed manager.
1. Know your bosses expectations!
How good you are in your job, and whether or not you perform well, that’s something not you or your team members assess, but only your boss.
Therefore, make sure to understand what is expected of you in your new role. Only if you truly know the expectations, you will be able to adopt and live up to them.
For that reason, ask your manager to meet with you. Ask him what his goals are, what is important to him, and how can you help him. What does your boss think what your priorities should be in the coming weeks? What should you keep in mind while working together and what kind of communication does he want?
Get to know your boss, how he thinks, how he works. Which decisions can you make on your own and on which ones does he want to be involved?
„My new team manager is driving me crazy. He sends me a copy of almost all his emails, as my inbox isn’t overflowing already. What a hell do I need all this information for?!“
How exactly wants your boss to be kept in the loop? Does he just want a short email once a week or does he want to be informed about everyone and everything at all times and expects a detailed report every other day – perhaps even including a 5-pages Excel-Sheet every day? Try to find out!
And, to make it clear again: it‘s not you who decide whether you’re doing a good job or not – it’s your boss. And his assessment is based on whether or not you meet his expectations. Sorry, but that’s how it works!
2. Don’t rely only on facts, data and figures!
Take your time for a conversation with your employee and colleague. If you are a manager it is not just about asking for reports, numbers, dates and facts.
It’s about people: About understanding the people that work in your organisation. What drives them? Why are they doing what they do? Listen to their earlier successes and difficulties. Keep asking, so you can truly understand, and – most importantly – don’t judge or evaluate; at least not during the first days.
During the first weeks you try to get a glimpse. Get a picture of how the organisation ticks and how it functions. When are the decisions made? How, by whom and why? Try to get a feel for it.
How people and departments or teams really work is nothing you can see in spreadsheets and organisation charts, but you rather need to know or get a feeling for unwritten rules and hidden agendas. Only then, you can avoid dropping a brick accidentally.
3. Avoid actionism!
The first 4 to 6 weeks as a new leader are your orientation phase. What matters during this time is for you to understand your environment, your team members and colleagues and to find your role.
At this point you shouldn’t make any changes – even if your employees would like you to change things up. Why? Because in the beginning you are not familiar with hidden and unwritten rules and customs in the organisation. You can’t see the full extend of the existing power relations yet. But you need this information to make a good assessment.
Some rules and principles that may seem pointless to you in the beginning might start to make sense once you understand how and why they actually came into place. Try first to comprehend and understand.
Only make far-reaching decisions if you can really assess what impact they will have.
4. Don’t speak badly about your predecessor!
„Well, ladies and gentlemen, as you know: from today on I’m the new head of department here and I had a good look at everything. And, to be honest, I’m not surprised that we are not leading the market. There is a lot that needs to be changed. The way that you as a team performed in the past years was – to put it mildly – not ideal. Your work leaves a lot to be desired. There’s much room for improvement.“
Don’t do that!
Be appreciative towards the organisations past and towards the employees, team members and colleagues and their earlier successes. Even if it wasn’t all that good and even if you already know that some things need to change. Hold back on your assessment.
„What my predecessor has left me with here is nothing short of an absolute mess. It seems like, apart from going on business trips he hasn’t done much at all.“
And, did I mention: don‘t speak ill about your predecessor – not in your introductory speech, and not later. Never!
5. Don’t aim to be popular!
As a leader you are not longer just one of many in the team. As the the team leader you are the boss, not a buddy from work anymore. You have to re-consider your previous communication and behaviour. Most likely you need to make adjustments in one domain or another to adapt to your new role.
The real issues that a leader or manager has to deal with are almost never specialist or technical subjects but it‘s the interpersonal relationships.
As a leader you need to find the right balance between closeness and distance to your employees.
Of course, it is a great feeling to know that you are liked by your team members, but it‘s not the goal of successful leadership to be popular. What is paramount is that you are respected – and not because of your position, but because of your behaviour.
Being a leader is about establishing trust. You don’t need to be or try to become best friends with your employee.
Your goal should be to become trustworthy and to be fair and honest in everything you do.
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The inspiring quote
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
John F. Kennedy