You may find yourself managing workers for the first time without any training or gradual development. Passion for the company’s mission as well as confidence in the role can be a good start, but you will have to develop the skill set of a proficient manager.
As a leader, managing people for the first time can be intimidating. We’re going to list the four crucial leadership skills that every first-time manager should master in order to set the tone for their new team. Keep reading, and you’ll learn how your managerial career can be off to a great start.
The Most Important Leadership Techniques for First-Time Managers:
- Delegating effectively
- Communicating clearly
- Leading by example
- Operating transparently
1. Delegate Effectively
Before we jump straight into those tips and tricks, let’s define delegating. Delegating involves assigning people who are often less senior to you, tasks and activities to complete. In doing so, entrusting responsibilities to employees builds trust, empowers your team, and assists with professional development. For a first-time leader, it helps to learn how you can identify who would be best suited to tackle certain projects and tasks so your team can function effectively to complete work in a timely manner.
As the saying goes, ‘time is money’. Delegating tasks allows you the opportunity to work more efficiently and decrease the number of delays in achieving company goals. In doing this, you can easily build a successful and strong team that will be able to meet all demands.
There are three main components to delegating effectively:
Choose the right tasks you need to assign
The beauty of delegating is that you are given more time to do the stuff only you know how to do. Routine processes, administration, data entry and customer service are things that aren’t complicated to do but are extremely time-consuming — making them the perfect tasks to be handed on to someone else!
Identify the right employees to delegate to
It is vitally important that you select the right people to do a job and match their skill set to particular tasks that need doing. You must delegate tasks according to if someone has the capability, know-how and experience to perform the job to a satisfactory level. When stepping into a managerial position it can be difficult to ascertain each individual’s ability and skill set, but luckily there are several methods you can use to assess your team members’ capabilities.
One method is to conduct a traditional test to measure your team’s technical and theoretical knowledge. This is best tested using true/false, multiple choice and matching questions. A self-assessment questionnaire could also be sent around, asking people to fill it out in their own time. However, you may not get accurate results because of the subjective nature of self-assessing questionnaires. Alternatively, you may want to take a less formal approach and just ask your team straight out what their strengths and weaknesses are the next time they are in your office having a casual conversation.
Delegate in the right way
When delegating a task, make sure you clearly communicate the expected outcome, quality of work and deadlines. But watch out here, don’t get caught in the trap of micromanaging; give them a thorough outline of the job, but let the employee figure out the means and method they want to take in completing the task. Make sure you give your staff the tools and authority necessary to get the job done to set them up for success in completing the assignment.
To make sure that your employees aren’t going to burnout, figure out your team’s workload and capacity, and utilize a work management tool. When you adopt this tool, each of your team members will be able to see how their work feeds into company initiatives.
A pro tip: When managing a big team, delegating and assigning tasks can take a toll on you if the process isn’t automated. You might miss a tag on your task, and eventually miss an important deadline. So, what’s the best way to deal with this? Syncing your communication and project management apps. For example, you can connect Slack & MeisterTask and create automations to never miss a task.
2. Communicate Clearly
Powerful communication is more than just exchanging information with others. It’s about understanding the intentions and emotions behind the information. The winning first-time manager would be the one who communicates the most clearly with their co-workers. Whether you’re dealing with customers, bosses, or employees, your ability to get what you need hinges on how effectively and clearly you communicate.
Know your audience
To communicate clearly, it’s crucial that you know who you’re talking to. This is because you have to adapt your message to suit their level of specialization. For example, you would have to speak in different terms when talking to a software engineer compared to a sales intern when discussing your company’s computer programs. This isn’t to say you must change the core meaning to your message, rather, relay information in a way that will resonate with your audience.
Be an engaged listener
While communicating with others, oftentimes, we focus on what we should say. Yet, powerful communication is less about talking and more about listening. Listening to the speaker doesn’t just mean understanding the information being communicated, but also the emotions the person is trying to convey.
Simplify your messages
As a manager, you may think you need to give plenty of directives to people so they can perform their roles. However, keeping your messages brief and to the point can engage employees. Receiving clear, concise directions allows them to easily comprehend your expectations. Make sure you are speaking to people in plain terms and leaving out any insider jargon that may frazzle them because, as soon as you confuse them, you lose them. Obviously, this doesn’t mean you should leave out important contextual information that is needed for your staff to complete a task effectively; it’s about being selective on the information given as to keep your message concise to avoid information overload, confusion or misinterpretation. As the saying goes, keep it simple, stupid.
Ask for honest feedback
As with most of leadership skills, receiving honest feedback from members of your team, as well as from peers and managers, is vital for becoming a better communicator. If you solicit feedback on a regular basis, then others will help you determine areas for improvement you might have overlooked. Beginning your first management role is beneficial here, since you have the perfect opportunity to start right from the beginning by creating a workplace that promotes open and honest communication and feedback. Show genuine interest in your staff’s problems and how you can help. Check in on how they feel about the workplace, their environment and workload. However, keep in mind that it can be hard for people to open up and offer you honest feedback. A manager evaluation form can prove useful to capture insights into how your people respond and react to your management style and often provide the most accurate feedback, as people have anonymity.
3. Lead by Example
Did anyone tell you that a leader succeeds when they show others how to improve and push for greatness? They’re right. Your team is supposed to look at you and think, “If he can do it, I can do it, too.” A true leader won’t whip the team into shape from the back of the pack. Because that’s a dictatorship. You don’t want that!
People will follow leaders they trust. When you set the right example for conducting business and accomplishing goals, the team will follow. Developing these capabilities takes training and motivation. Here are four ways you can lead the charge as a better first-time manager:
Don’t micromanage your team
I’m serious. Don’t ever do that. Once you’ve determined and communicated your vision, goals, and values, step back. You don’t need to control every aspect. Your employees would agree. Nobody wants to work under pressure, and that’s what micromanagement generates.
If people feel like you don’t trust them to complete their work efficiently by themselves, this can create a serious problem for morale and cause them to decrease productivity as you condition them to be dependent on you. This isn’t to say you should step back from monitoring assignments, it means not constantly looming over your employees and inspecting and criticizing minor aspects of their work. Instead, set clear expectations from the beginning and allow people to achieve objectives using their own approaches.
Take responsibility for mistakes
A good leader takes responsibility for their team — even in cases when a team member was the one who made a mistake. To become a great leader, you will have to pass the credit and take the blame strategically. When blaming your team for failure, you’re making that same team wary and defensive. What’s more, you will sabotage any trust you may have built over time.
Get your hands dirty
As a manager, one of the biggest rules is that you can’t just lead from the sidelines. You have to be involved in the complete work process and know all of the ins and outs of your business. Working alongside your team will help you build trust while expanding your knowledge and skills.
Don’t dwell on what went wrong in the same vein of failure. As previously mentioned, punishing your team or harping on them for failures won’t do anything but discourage them from innovation. Take a close look at what went wrong in post-failure feedback sessions to find solutions as you encourage your team members to do the same.
4. Operate Transparently
Transparency and trust are fundamental to any business success. Transparent managers strive to set crystal-clear expectations, practice what they preach, and communicate clearly with their team members.
What does leading with transparency require? First of all, a willingness to always be honest with your team even if you feel somewhat vulnerable as a result. In return, you will gain your team members’ loyalty and trust.
The importance of transparency becomes much more obvious as it fosters your workplace culture of accountability and open communication for both leaders and employees. Here are a few tips that will help you create a transparent workplace culture:
- Establish a consistent policy to be transparent about business decisions as well as business development plans.
- Adopt an open-door policy and request your team members from upper management to do the same.
- Conduct regular meetings with the entire company to make sure that everyone is informed that clear expectations have been set. That way, every employee has the chance to stay in the loop.
- Encourage your team to give you honest feedback about recent announcements or changes. You may want to use online forms or surveys to do this and use it to measure employee satisfaction.
- Take the time to get to know all of your employees. Meet with them one on one. Form personal connections with them and express your commitment to transparency.
To get up to speed quickly as a first-time manager, focus on honing these leadership techniques to become an effective leader and build rapport with your employees. By implementing what you’ve learned from our guide today, and most importantly, by adapting these lessons based on your company’s culture, your team’s needs, and your business goals, your new managerial career will most definitely be off to a flying start!