New Year, New Role? Tips for New Managers

For many companies, position changes often take effect in the first quarter of the year after the end-of-year review process. Unfortunately, the transition from individual contributor to people manager can sometimes be a difficult one for many new managers. Employees are often thrust into these roles – congratulations, now go be a manager! – without formal training or a playbook to guide their behavior.

In reality, it takes a completely different mindset to successfully move into a management position. Think “me” becomes “we” and everyone’s favorite saying, “there’s no ‘I’ in team.” New managers must be mindful of three considerations that aren’t necessarily part of the job description:

  • the role they play in their employees’ careers
  • their team’s success
  • their impact on the organizational culture

Below we dive into each of these as well as share some practical tips for new managers.

Here are three ways an employee’s role changes once they become a manager, along with tips for new managers.

 

1.  MOVING FROM A SUPPORTING TO A LEADING ROLE IN THE CAREERS OF OTHERS.

Individual contributors are concerned with their own work and development, and rightfully so. Once an employee becomes a people manager, they earn a new title: coach. Instead of focusing only on how they can grow and advance their own career, they are responsible for the development of their team. For those who have never been in a mentoring role, it can be difficult to establish that type of relationship.

Tips for new managers:

  • Discuss career goals early and often. Use regular check ins to focus on development and discuss potential career paths. Your performance management platform should incorporate some sample questions to guide this conversation.
  • Be an active listener. Great mentors are great listeners. All employees want to be heard, not told what to do. Be mindful of the ratio of listening vs. speaking when meeting with individuals.
  • Be an advocate. New managers can earn the trust of their employees by being an advocate for them to others in the organization. Employees need to know that their manager will always be their career champion.

2.  BEING EVALUATED ON YOUR TEAM’S ABILITY TO MEET THEIR GOALS VS. YOUR OWN.

This is another big mindset switch for new managers. Individual contributors set goals for themselves and work through a series of tasks until they reach them. This is not the case for managers. They need to look carefully at the broader business objectives to set team goals, and then help their direct reports set individual goals that align to those. Then, it’s all about helping them adjust their goals along the way to move the needle on those business objectives as best they can.

Tips for new managers:

  • Be proactive. If necessary, ask for clarity around business objectives to ensure you fully understand them. Your employees’ success relies on your interpretation being right.
  • Understand the bigger picture. Take the time upfront to think through ways your team can best impact the company’s goals. Give employees direction on how they can stand out and make their work count. Don’t let them set goals in a silo.
  • Speak up. While it may be uncomfortable at first, help employees modify goals if they’re focusing on the wrong areas or not reaching high enough. At the end of the day, it will only hurt your employees and your team if you’re too afraid to speak up.

3.  ACTIVELY DRIVE TEAM CULTURAL BEHAVIOR AND CHANGE.

When you go from being part of a team to leading a team, you become in charge of the work environment you create for employees. This is something that can blindside new managers, who are used to being a part of the team culture, not controlling it.

Tips for new managers:

  • Set the example. Want your team to gossip less or cut the all-day chatter? Don’t take part in it. Want to create a more positive environment? Think about how often you yourself complain.
  • Lead with reason, not emotion. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment, but managers must remain objective when possible. It may take practice to find the right balance between being supportive and staying professional.
  • Focus on solutions. When cultural issues arise, between team members or otherwise, it’s important to avoid dwelling on the problem and instead work towards a solution.