New Manager? Focus on These 5 Things

New managers are facing challenging working environments filled with rapid change and former management legacies that created employee burnout and apathy. Below are 5 things new managers should focus on when transitioning into a management role from a non-management role:

Shift your mindset.

The most important thing to remember as a new manager transitioning from a non-management role is that you must shift your mindset. You are no longer just responsible for yourself, but for your team as well. Your words and action have a greater impact. Everyone is watching how you respond to your environment. Make sure to take care of your new team members. Don’t just look at them as means to the end of your professional success.

As a new manager, resilience will be your armor. With a rapidly changing workplace, it will be up to you to get your team through it all. That can’t happen is you are easily set back my obstacles and challenges. Shift your mindset to do things that help you rebound more quickly. It will put your new team in the best position to succeed.

Find a mentor.

The most experienced manager cannot lead well by themselves. Leaders need to embrace asking for help. Find a mentor, coach or internal sponsor. As a brand new manager, you need guidance and help even more. Don’t do things that push people away, but act in ways that bring them closer. to you.

What is an internal sponsor? Someone who you might trust or look up to whom is in a management role. You may not be able to meet them monthly, but try to meet with them, at least, quarterly. They can be a great sounding board for your new journey.

Don’t forget to investigate whether your organization has executive coaches engaged to help new managers too. This is another great way to get off on a good foot as a new manager.

Take responsibility for your development.

Often, brand new managers sit waiting for their own managers to put them on a development plan. This is the wrong way to take control of your new role. Take responsibility for your own journey. Develop a professional development plan for yourself. Make sure it includes reading books, taking free classes, monitoring workshops or class offerings your organization is offering and attending conferences.

Another thing I see many managers do is forget the action items that are listed in their performance reviews. They assume that their manager should remind them, or some system will send reminders. Instead, mark your calendar with the due dates of the action items you need to complete that are in your review.

New managers who own their own development are much more successful in their new positions and are more impressive to the leadership team too.

Listen to your people.

One of the most important things I ever did for and with my people was to spend time with them. As a new manager, start off right by meeting one-on-one with your team members to find out more about them as people. What is their home life like? What do they enjoy doing on the weekends? Who are the most important people in their lives? Knowing this will make you a much more effective manager.

Don’t forget to ask them for feedback on what they would like to see from you as their manager. What bothered them about previous managers? What did they love from previous managers? When you spend time with them, you make them feel important. This makes them want to stay on your team.

If you plan to make any changes in your new department, also make sure to include your team members in the process. No one wants things to happen to them, but everyone wants to have a voice in the process of change happening around them. Be the catalyst to help your people feel like they can control even just the smallest parts of their role or department. It will make all the difference for them,

Build relationships first.

Although I placed this last, this is the most important thing on which new managers should focus. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” You show that you care by building relationships with them.

When I refer to them, I mean to include your leadership team, your colleagues, people on other teams, your direct reports, and customers. You go farther and faster with the help of those around you. Don’t build silos around your team. Reach across departments to facilitate cross-functional collaboration. Put the people in your organization ahead of the tasks and the tasks will get done with more efficiency.

Relationships are the backbone of a successful management career. Make them count.


Heather Younger
Heather Younger
Heather Younger gets it. As a best-selling author, international TEDx speaker, podcast host, facilitator, and Forbes Coaches Council coach, she has earned her reputation as “The Employee Whisperer”. Her experiences as a CEO, entrepreneur, manager, attorney, writer, coach, listener, speaker, collaborator and mother all lend themselves to a laser-focused clarity into what makes employees of organizations and companies – large and small - tick. Heather has facilitated more than 150 workshops, reaching +100 employers and their employees. Her motivation and philosophy have reached more than 20,000 attendees at her speaking engagements on large and small stages. Companies have charted their future course based on her leading more than 100 focus groups. In addition, she has helped companies see double-digit employee engagement score increases through the implementation of her laws and philosophies. She has driven results in a multitude of industries, including banking, oil & gas, construction, energy, and federal and local government. Heather brings a tenacious and inspirational outlook to issues plaguing the workforces of today. Her book “The 7 Intuitive Laws of Employee Loyalty” hit the Forbes Must-Read list and is a go-to source for HR professionals seeking insight into their organization's dynamics. Heather’s writing can also be found on her blog at EmployeFanatix, as well as articles in Forbes, Huffington Post, Thrive Global, American Express Open Forum, and more. Coupled with her Leadership with Heart podcast, weekly videos, and employer newsletters, Heather stays connected to organizations long after she leaves the stage or conference roomWhen all the emails are returned and the mic is turned off, and Heather acts as co-manager of her busy household in Aurora, Colorado with her husband, where they oversee their four children.

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  1. This is a great list, and you could probably write a second article detailing what to do if you’re transitioning from within the same department.

    One of the lessons I learned the hard way relative to “Take Responsibility for Your Own Development” is to make sure you know the expectations for the position: immediate, near term, long term. You don’t want to find yourself in a position with your boss where the dialogue goes something like “I thought you were going to…” and “I thought I was supposed to…”