Leadership Skills for a First Time Manager - Part 2

One of the most difficult adjustments when moving into a management role is learning how to be on a different level as your peers. Your buddies, your confidants, your secret coffee-break complainers, you just get each other. And now you're up with the other management team members, trying to figure out how to balance reputability and likability. You want them to be a little afraid of you, but you also want them to genuinely laugh at your jokes.


We understand, it's not easy. In our last post, we talked a bit about the importance of establishing a routine, paying attention to the Big Picture, and why you sometimes have to pretend you're on board with some tough decisions. Today we'll talk about how to work with your employees in a way that will keep them motivated and productive and still make them think you're kind of fun to be around. We swear it's possible.

4. Listen to your employees.

Know what makes them tick, what gets them excited, and everything in between. Tasks that are un-liked, irrelevant or impervious to a position, or tasks that keep getting pushed to the back burner, are clearly not motivating that employee. Make sure the work is being distributed appropriately and that you're utilizing your team's strengths, and spend some time getting to know how each individual works. If one person benefits from discussing things in person but another prefers written communication, honor that. It's not their job to cater to your management style, but vice versa. In order to retain the best employees, we have to be cultivating an environment that makes our employees the best they can be. Playing to everyone's strengths and working in ways that create ideal everyday working environments will take your team far.

5. Set expectations. 

Communication is key: tell your employees what you expect, right from the get-go. If you like to be kept in the loop on every detail in a project, say so. Tell them if you prefer to be more hands off but expect the work to be done when it's due. Be explicitly clear about the way the team will work together, what your involvement will be, and how your team's progress should expect to be measured. So much of a manager's success is dependent on setting the bar at a certain height and helping your employees hit that bar by giving them clear directions. Think about it – no one would thrive in a workplace where everything always seems to be up in the air. If an employee knows what to expect, then it's no surprise that there are consequences when goals aren't met. Which brings us to our next tip..

6. Manage performance.

Another difficult part of hitting the management level is the dreaded discussions about an employee's performance. If a team member isn't stepping up as much as they should, or if other team members are covering ground for someone, it's easy to want to wait it out, but this must be remedied quickly. As the old saying goes: give him an inch and he'll take a yard. Hold someone accountable for their work at all times, because once it slips, it's all downhill.

Now, it doesn't need to be a serious conversation every time, but a simple check-in about how things are going, and asking how you can help, will clue someone in that you're noticing they're slipping a bit. A later conversation can address specifics, and might be followed up by a readjustment of responsibilities or re-instituted goals for the employee. It's ok to readjust expectations throughout the year (we all have unproductive times), but the burden of this person's workload shouldn't be falling to the rest of your team's shoulders.

7. Go ahead, let your personality show through.

You are human. And while your employees are not your best buddies, it's great if they actually like you as a person, . Once you've established yourself as a leader, don't be afraid to let a little bit of your freak flag fly. Well, maybe leave the full-on freak flag at home, but let your personality come through a little bit. Common interests will bond your team together, so go ahead and mention your upcoming trip to Europe, or talk about the yoga class you've been taking, the baseball game you went to last night, or the new TV show you can't stop binge watching. Once the respect is there, it's ok to garner a little attention towards you as a person. Your team will like you in no time.

Give these tips a try, and we know you'll be reporting back in no time with a lean, mean, productive and enjoyable team!

Posted: 6/27/2018 11:52:41 AM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments
Filed under: first time manager, leadership, leadership skills, leadership tips, management skills, new manager