What Every First-Time Manager Needs to Know to Succeed

Moving from an individual contributor to a manager requires an entirely different skillset.  Often, individuals are promoted into management positions without receiving a strong foundation of skills that lead to success as a manager. Here are 4 essential employee management skills for first-time managers.

Beat Your Best Manager

Think about a manager you have had that made a positive impact in your career.  How did they make you feel?  What types of behaviors did they display that instilled an environment that worked for you?  Put those traits into action and then some.  Think about other managers you have had throughout your career and pick out those behaviors that made a positive difference.

Listen and Get to Know Your Team

You are now the person in charge but remember you are only as strong as your team.  Schedule one-on-ones with each team member and find out what’s working and what’s not.  Listen – don’t try to fix anything at this point.  It’s highly likely that you will identify trends across the team that will provide a good foundation of insight into how to move forward with the team.

The Art of Giving Feedback

Too often feedback isn’t heard until something goes off the rails.  The best managers make feedback a part of the environment and not a one-time thing during performance reviews.  Keep in mind that feedback is truly a gift to someone.  Many people are unaware of behaviors that may need correcting.  Think about a time when you received feedback that made a positive difference for you.

Follow this 4-step process to provide constructive feedback and keep your employees motivated.

Step One:  Invite the employee to engage in a discussion that sets the stage for a specific scenario.  For example, “I’d like to talk about the results of the XYZ project.”  Take the ‘You’ out of the situation as that can put people on the defensive from the start.

Step Two:  Start out the conversation validating the situation.  It’s nice to try and provide something positive and then move into what could be improved upon.  For example, “The results of the XYZ project had some good outcomes such as ….. and at the same time, there are some areas that could have been improved.  I’d like to talk more about your contribution to the project.”

Step Three:  Ask the employee their perception of the situation.  Ask if they were going to do anything differently, what would they do?  This provides the opportunity for the employee to think about the process and identify both positives and negatives.  And it reinforces a collaborative approach to the feedback process.

Step Four:  Validate the employee’s work in some way before moving into anything that might be corrective.  To make this most effective, discuss the situation together in a way that has the employee self-discover potential issues and at the same time have them think through ways they might do things differently.  Help them along with the self-discovery process and come up with an action plan for moving forward.

Demonstrate Accountability

Model good behaviors by taking accountability of your actions.  Do what you say and if you don’t, own it.  It can be scary to admit a mistake but at the same time, admitting an error is a sign of strength.  No one likes a manager that doesn’t take responsibility for their own actions.

Managers can have a huge influence on the people they manage – both good and bad.  Remember that you are setting an example and someday you should hope one of your former employees is trying to beat their best manager with you in mind!

If you would like to gain insight into your management skills and how others may perceive you, check out the Everything DiSC Management assessment and learn how to increase communication effectiveness with your employees.