Moving into a managerial position can come with many different emotions.
Managers are responsible for motivating and supporting their employees to achieve their potential. While this is exciting, it can be a little stressful as well. Because many managers start their roles with little to no experience, it can be difficult to develop the skills needed to become a great leader.
However, here is some great news—regardless of experience, many things can be done to improve leadership skills. So, here are some tips to help you become the best manager you can be.
1. Be Comfortable With Delegation
Learning how to delegate can be challenging when moving into a manager position.
You may feel like you must be involved in every aspect of your team’s work because you’re now a manager. But delegation can help you make the most of your time and get work done efficiently and effectively if you have a team of strong people with different skills.
To understand your team’s strengths and individual skills, it’s important to get to know them. When you do, the delegation will become much easier.
Furthermore, trusting your team means learning to delegate and let go of tasks. Of course, there will be moments that aren’t perfect. However, you can pay attention to the work styles of each team member during your first few weeks to better support them. Everyone works differently.
2. Learn How To Give Meaningful Feedback
It’s essential to give constructive and meaningful feedback to employees.
Although it can feel awkward to give feedback to employees, it’s important to develop the habit quickly. Don’t wait until performance reviews to express your compliments or concerns; your employees will benefit from receiving feedback regularly. Not only will it help them grow and perform better in their jobs, but you can also be sure that their work meets your expectations.
Between compliments and criticism, the former is usually much easier for new managers. When you highlight another person’s work, positive feedback is more meaningful. However, instead of saying a basic “good job,” a specific compliment is much more memorable and shows what you want to see in the future.
When you are comfortable with positive feedback, it is time to start including constructive criticism. Sometimes a more firm approach is necessary, but more often than not, constructive criticism is meant to help your employee improve—so you definitely don’t have to be mean about it. Instead, you can approach this empathetically and show that you care.
3. Create A Strong Foundation With Trust
Building trust with your team is one of the most important things a new manager can do. Your transition to management will be easier if you get off to the right start with communication and trust-building.
How can you build trust with your team?
Transparent communication is one of the best things you can do as a manager to create trust with your team and foster positive working relationships. For example, your team should be kept informed about what’s happening, changes to the department, and how their new manager’s role will affect them. During this time, be open to questions and give honest responses.
Your employees will definitely appreciate the candor, and they’ll be more likely to approach you about other things in the future.
4. Be An Active Listener
A lot of people claim to be good listeners. However, that’s usually not the case. Therefore, to avoid neglecting your employees, learn to be an active listener.
Active listening is demonstrating that you are listening to the other person. You can show your listening skills by smiling, nodding, or using reflective statements to clarify or summarize the other person’s words. Additionally, open body language is another way to show that you are listening to their words and not just ignoring them.
Your employees should be able to speak freely without worrying about being interrupted or redirected. Unfortunately, because they are often busy and have many priorities to attend to, managers sometimes communicate in a hurry or under pressure.
Therefore, prioritize your employees when you can so they can feel appreciated.
5. Look For A Mentor
Mentors can help new managers navigate the challenges of being a manager for the first time.
You can look for a mentor within your job or organization; however, new managers can seek mentors outside the company. Mentors can be a great resource for learning how to manage employee issues and improve your leadership skills. They are also able to offer support and guidance when you need it.
Having a mentor is a great way to have someone to talk to during this transitional period. Being a manager isn’t easy; however, having a mentor to express your frustrations or concerns is always great—especially if they’ve been in your shoes before.
6. Learning How To Say “No”
Being in a position of leadership means learning how to say “no.”
Because they lack confidence in saying no, new managers are often pushed around by their peers. Many new managers have difficulty saying no to employees. Managers who are promoted internally may have former colleagues as direct reports. It can be difficult for a new manager to assert their position and say no when necessary.
Depending on the situation, there will be times when you have to decline a request. It’s best to confidently—and firmly—say no to such requests. While you can offer explanations, it is important to make clear that your decision has been made.
Managers must also learn to say no to higher-ranking leaders and managers. As a manager, your responsibility is to ensure that your team and their time are protected. For example, if the task is not within the scope of your employees’ duties or just simply unrealistic, you might have to reject it. This doesn’t mean you want to be rude purposefully, but you must prioritize your team’s needs. This will prevent them from becoming burnt out.
7. Refining Your Leadership Style
Refining your leadership style is one of the most difficult aspects of being a manager for the first time.
It takes practice and time to develop your leadership style and make it work in your company’s culture. Please note that it’s fine to have a different management style than other leaders within the company. To ensure consistency, many new managers try to imitate the role of the manager they are replacing. While this is logical, don’t be afraid of making your leadership style yours!
While the first few weeks of a new job are usually focused on learning and becoming proficient, it is important to improve your leadership skills as you move up the ranks. To become a better manager, do a self-assessment and reflect on what you could do differently.
8. DEI Knowledge In The Workplace
While in the workplace, everyone must be open-minded and respectful of different beliefs, backgrounds, and abilities. Thus, managers have a greater responsibility for promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace.
Managers should have a basic knowledge of DEI’s legal aspects. These laws include the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Civil Rights Act of 64 (CRA). Furthermore, they also need to be familiar with the basics of harassment prevention and discrimination prevention. If needed, there is manager training on sexual harassment available. This includes more knowledge than the employee version.
Additionally, managers who are good at DEI management go beyond legal basics to learn about real-world DEI issues. Consider setting time in your day or week to educate yourself more about the logistics and current trends surrounding DEI. Also, you can take several virtual courses to further your knowledge.