Barbara Mitchell & Cornelia Gamlem, Authors, The Manager’s Answer Book
Congratulations, you’re a new manager. There is so much to do. Where do you start? Remember, you have control over your career and you want to start strong. Here are five action items you can start taking right away:
Be mindful of your image. Whether you’re a new manager or have been in the role for some time, other people are watching you – your team, your peers and your leadership team. They form opinions based on their interpretation of what they see you doing and saying. Be sure you are portraying your best image. Dress appropriately for your workplace and industry and avoid any manner of dress that draws negative attention. Make sure your workspace is well organized so people see a busy manager when they enter and not haphazard chaos. Engage in good business manners such as acknowledging other people and learning their names, being attentive to others, graciously accepting compliments and being punctual for meetings.
Build rapport. It’s important that you have a good rapport with your team and with your peers within the organization – especially if you’re new to the organization. Consider starting meetup sessions with other managers. Explore common business interests with your colleagues. Determine how you can support the work of each other’s operations and what the benefits are for each of you for doing so. Make getting to know your staff a top priority. Meet with each staff member individually. Get to know their areas of expertise and clarify your expectations. Let them know your goals for the department and how you see them contributing to its success.
Learn about the organization. Practice management by walking around, inside and outside of your department. Be observant and ask questions. Learn how information and flow in the organization and who the gatekeepers of the information are. Find out what other departments or teams are doing. Not only do you learn about the work, you can learn more about other managers. Be curious and ask about the challenges your external and internal customers face. It will help you gain a deeper understanding of what’s going on in the organization, and what others are facing.
Build trust. Employees want transparency. They want to know what’s happening – the good, bad, and ugly. So, be honest with your team and share as much information as you can. Listen carefully to your employees and their concerns. Address their questions and comments. If you don’t have the answer, commit to get it for them. Be consistent and honor your commitments to your staff. If you can’t share why. Admit when you’re wrong. There will be times when you make a mistake and a heartfelt, “I’m sorry” goes a long way.
Enhance your communication skills. Communication is more than just being articulate when you speak or being able to write an outstanding report. Start by taking the time to learn to listen. A good listener makes a deliberate effort to understand the other person’s message. A good listener listens to learn, is interested in what the speaker is saying and lets the speaker know they’re listening.You also have to be able to read all the nonverbal clues you are receiving. If you’re not paying attention, the other person may state she understands, but her tone, facial expressions or body language may be conveying a different message.
The exciting thing about being a manager is there will always be new challenges, many of which are addressed in The Manager’s Answer Book. So it’s important that you continue to learn and grow in your management career.