“An employee’s motivation is a direct result of the sum of interactions with his or her manager.”
Congratulations! You’ve just been promoted to manager. Or, as a business owner, you have just promoted someone within your company to manager. With this promotion comes new responsibilities. The most important and most challenging of these new responsibilities is that you probably now have to manage people. Many people seem to think that managing/mentoring/coaching others is not that big a deal. Those people make very bad managers. Managing people takes time and effort; and if you want to be good at it, it takes knowledge, practice, and experience.
To get you started on the knowledge portion of the equation, here are 10 things that every new manager needs to know and do:
Be consistent – Always be consistent in how you deal with your team. Be consistent in your actions. Don’t criticize in public. Don’t look for things your team is doing wrong; celebrate the things they’re doing right. Treat everyone fairly. Treat everyone with respect. Coach them all effectively and efficiently. Never show favoritism.
You don’t need to know everything – No one expects you to know everything. Your team does expect you to be able to find the answer in a reasonable amount of time, but it’s okay to say, “I don’t know.” As long as it’s followed by, “But I’ll find out.” There’s no reason to put undue pressure and expectations on yourself. Learning what you can is important. Knowing where to get answers, just might be more important.
Communicate, communicate, and communicate – It is always better to over-communicate than under-communicate. As a manager, there will be things that you are unable to share with your team, but the vast majority of information pertaining to the organization is important for your team to know so that they see where they fit into the overall organization or company strategy. The more they know, the more they can help. The more you tell them and share with them, the greater respect they will have for you.
Set goals – It is important to set goals for your team and for the individual team members. People need targets to shoot at. People need to know how their roles fit into the overall organization. People need to know what they are being measured against and they need to know that you are there to help them achieve the goals that were set. Remember however, don’t just set arbitrary goals. Set specific, measureable, attainable, reasonable, and time-bound goals. If it can’t be measured, it’s not a good goal. And while you are setting goals for your team that fit in with the goals of the organization, establish manager goals for yourself around becoming a better manager, mentor, and coach.
Manage to the level of the individual – You can’t manage everyone the same. You can’t expect everyone to be at the same level. Some of your team will be the kind that you can simply give a project or task to with complete confidence that it will be done. These are the easiest to manage because you can simply delegate to them with full confidence. Others will be able to handle projects and tasks, but will need more handholding and input from you. Still others will need more constant interaction, handholding, direction, etc. Your job as manager is to get all your team members to the point where you can delegate. This takes time and honestly, there will always be some who never get to this point. But don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can manage everyone the same. If you want to be an effective manager, then manage your team members at the level they are at, while you coach them to the level they can reach.
Provide regular and timely feedback – Whether it is for correction or recognition, ensure that you do it at the right time. No one wants to get dinged on their yearly appraisal for something they did at the beginning of the year. Additionally, recognition is useless if it occurs months after the fact. Constant, timely, honest, and effective feedback is the key to good team communication.
Listen more, talk less – Never provide a solution unless you know what the problem is. You will be the sounding board for team, organization, project, and even personal problems and issues. Your team comes to you because they trust you and need help in resolving a particular problem. How you handle the problem discussion and then the resolution shows what kind of a manager and mentor you are. The more you dig, the more you learn. The more you learn, the better the potential resolution. The only way to learn more is to listen more.
Learn what motivates your team – People are motivated by different things. Just as you can’t manage everyone the same, you can’t motivate everyone the same way either. Assess your team. Identify what it takes to motivate them and establish a reward and recognition system based on what they want and need. There are assessments readily available to identify motivation. They are well worth the money and the time in order to know your team better. Wouldn’t you want to be rewarded based on what you would like? So does your team.
Follow up and follow through – As stated above, it’s not imperative that you know all the answers; however, it is imperative that you know where to find the answers. Along with that, when you tell someone on your team that you will find out the answer, then you’d better be willing and able to do just that. There’s nothing worse than a manager that can’t be depended upon. So if you promise something, follow through. And if you ask someone to do something for you, then make sure you follow up.
Find time for your team – You must find time to spend with your team and your individual team members. This can be difficult, as managing people is only a portion of your job. Difficult, but not impossible. Individual interaction is an important aspect of the manager/team dynamic. You can’t expect things from your team if you don’t know them and you can’t know your team unless you spend time with them.
If you are a new manager, then take the job seriously. Learn how to be a better manager. Learn and apply. You will make mistakes. Learn from the mistakes. Managing employees is tough. Managing employees can be frustrating. But managing employees can also be extremely rewarding. The ten items identified above will help you on the road to becoming the best manager/coach/mentor you can be.