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Preparing For Your First Managerial Role? Here’s What You Should Focus On

If you’re stepping into your first managerial role, you’re probably filled with equal parts excitement and nerves. You’re excited about what lies ahead, but you also want to be sure you’re putting  your best foot forward and lean into the growth opportunity. Rest assured that what you’re feeling is completely normal. Preparing for this new chapter in your career may be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. To help you hit the ground running, here are a few things first-time managers should focus on for a smooth transition. 

Find a mentor 

Whether it’s handling delicate personnel issues or figuring out how to get a new team to work together, you’ll likely be dealing with many firsts—none of which will be addressed in any employee handbook. In these types of situations, mentors can be invaluable. No one is an island, and most successful managers would probably be able to point to someone who has guided them along the way.

So, find someone that you know and respect and hitch your wagon to theirs. A mentor can not only give you the guidance you need to handle sticky situations, but they can also be a great sounding board when you need one and help you set and meet your own career goals as well. 

While it may be easier to find a mentor who works within your company and understands the company culture and the job’s specifics, keep in mind that you can also find someone outside of your company. While the nuances to the business may differ, the overarching themes are often the same. 

Be a good listener

Good managers guide their people, but great managers build and cultivate relationships. To do the latter, you must be a good listener. Be sure to maintain an open-door policy and always take the time to listen and understand where your staff is coming from. Remember that you don’t have to bend to their will, but giving them the latitude to share their thoughts, frustrations, and opinions goes a long way toward making them feel valued.

Learn how to delegate 

Learning how to delegate is crucial for new managers. Instead of the one job function you were responsible for in your previous role; you are now responsible for multiple employees who perform many different job functions. The sooner you understand that there’s no way you could possibly control everything on your own, the better off you’ll be. Your job is not to do their job; your job is to delegate and guide. 

At the end of the day, you must trust your employees to perform their job functions and give them the space, the tools, and the support to get it done. 

Understand that your staff will make mistakes

One of the most important things to keep top of mind when you step into your first managerial role is that no one is perfect, not you, and not your staff. Your staff will make mistakes along the way, and when they do, your job is to train and coach them through those tough moments so that they come out better on the other side. Instead of looking at mistakes in a negative way, change your lens and look at their mistakes as an opportunity for you to help them learn and grow. 

Moreover, as a new manager, it’s important to understand that you’ll probably make mistakes too, and that’s okay; to err is human. Just remember that when you hold yourself accountable and acknowledge your own mistakes, your employees will grow to respect you as an individual and as a leader.

Don’t give your staff the answers 

While it might be tempting to expedite processes by handing down the answers when you know them, it’s not in anyone’s best interest.  Remember that your primary function is to train, coach, and help your staff grow. And the fact is, they can only do so when they’re allowed to think for themselves.  

So, when you’re approached with a question or an issue, take the time to work it through with the employee. Do your best to lead them to the right answer instead of handing it over on a silver platter. Remember the old adage about teaching a man to fish versus giving him one. 

Be transparent 

Transparency and consistency are the hallmarks of a good manager. More often than not, when change happens within a company, the employees will only hear the rumors, rumblings, and whispers. And we know how that works out in the end. 

Change without clear communication breeds an atmosphere of fear and distrust. Your job, in this case, is to manage the process. And the only way to do that is to keep it on the level and keep the lines of communication open.  

Show you care 

As a new manager, you should take the time to show you care and build rapport with your staff—right out of the gate. And thereafter, you should regularly take the pulse of your AOR. You need to let your staff know that their concerns, problems, and challenges are your top priority. This is important because employees who feel valued will go above and beyond when it counts. Moreover, if they know that you care and you’re always willing to help, chances are, they’ll approach you sooner, the problem or issue will get resolved that much quicker, and everything can move forward again. 

Visit around the office each day and keep your visibility high. Not only will this show your staff that you care, but it will also help you get comfortable with your new people and your new role. 

Put in the extra time 

While you may have made it to a managerial role, it’s important to understand that your learning doesn’t stop once the ink has dried on the contract. So be prepared to put in the extra time required to learn new systems or take advantage of any management tools and training that your company offers. Initially, this may require that you log a few more hours day-to-day but rest assured that it will pay off in the end. 

Lead by example 

Never ask your staff to do something you would not do yourself. In other words, lead by example. When your team sees that you’re not afraid to roll up your sleeves and get right in there with them, it makes them want to follow you. However, when you say one thing and do something else, it can feel like a betrayal. 

Leading by example establishes your credibility, and it helps you position yourself as someone who deserves to be respected and trusted. When your staff sees you as one of them instead of someone that’s barking orders from their ivory tower, they’ll appreciate you more, and they’ll work harder for you in the long run. 

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