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How To Be a Manager


As businesses strive for greater efficiency, managers today are managing more functions and more employees than managers did in the past. Meanwhile, in some companies, management training and mentorship programs have fallen by the wayside. This means that new managers are often responsible for learning on the job, but that's no reason not to invest in yourself. The key to thriving as a new manager is to learn constantly and build relationships with more experienced managers yourself if no mentorship program is available.

The American Management Association offers some rookie mistakes new managers should strive to avoid:

  • Giving people vague assignments.
  • Saving the most interesting work for yourself and giving routine tasks to staff members.
  • Taking on work being done poorly by one of your staff members rather than sitting down with them, discussing the work further and following through with an improvement plan.
  • Trying to impress your new boss by grabbing the glory from staff and peers.
  • Devoting your time to the wrong issues rather than focusing on activities that support your company's mission and strategic goals.
  • Failing to network with other managers. Colleagues represent a great information resource.
  • Confronting poor performers with an aggressive attitude rather than working with them to find out what they need. In particular, never belittle an employee in public.
  • Rewarding mediocrity rather than rewarding workers who deserve recognition.
  • Failing to recognize good work.
  • Focusing on mistakes, not on the learning opportunities they represent.

When you are a manager, it's not about you anymore. No longer is your No. 1 job to accomplish tasks. Now your No. 1 job is to help other people accomplish tasks in outstanding ways. Your performance now will be tied to the performance of your team, and if the team fails, you fail. So learn about the people you'll be managing. Review their personnel files, including performance reviews and goals.

Learn the key tasks

Knowing how to manage and motivate employees is crucial. One way to do this is to create a sense of urgency, making your team feel their work is important and time-sensitive in order to keep timetables short and morale high. Meanwhile, don't ignore problems that crop up between team members or in your workflow; identify them proactively by practicing active listening with your team, and work toward a resolution.

Speaking of problems, it's common for new managers to experience a kind of power madness. Every employee notices things their company could be doing better or more efficiently; now that you have the power to make changes, why not revamp the whole system? While you should never accept an established practice simply because it's established, be sure to research all sides of every issue and talk to other managers before making big decisions. It's natural to want to make a name for yourself with big changes right out of the gate, but remember that not all names are nice names.

Meanwhile, be responsible for your own training. Find all the management tools, resources and classes that your company offers. There's also no shortage of business advice in the outside world, so find blogs and websites to consult regularly. Continuing to develop yourself as a manager should be an ongoing part of your job.

You can't expect people to give their best at work if they don't see you doing it. Always be on your A game. Meet deadlines; stick to your word. Do your best to represent your department and organization.

Being a frontline, first-time manager is about transforming yourself and relating one-on-one with your team. With study, attention and thoughtful management, you can make your mark on your company.

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