Being promoted into a manager role for the first time comes with new pressures, new anxieties and uncertainties, and regardless of how long an employee has been working in the industry or at the company, they will encounter new challenges.
One of the biggest challenges people face is adjusting to the new role, but that may also be the biggest setback for new managers—adjusting too much.
Managers get promoted and they think they need to stop doing what they were doing before, but that’s not necessarily the case. Yes, their roles shift slightly, but for the most part, they were promoted because they were good on the floor with staff and they were good doing the day-to-day tasks. New managers need to understand how to combine—not replace—old responsibilities with their new ones.
Here are other things new managers should consider as they assume their role:
1. Don’t get lost in reports.
Because the manager is now responsible for the success of the team rather than just their own, they immediately dive into reports and numbers. They monitor those more than the processes that are helping (or preventing) the team achieve results. While they of course need to know the numbers of how the team is producing, they can’t lose sight of what is driving the team to perform, what each employee’s motivators are, and overall team camaraderie and dynamics.
2. Don’t think you know it all.
New managers will fail, and that’s OK! It comes with the job, but they better be able to recognize it and recover the situation. If something isn’t working or isn’t making sense, it’s their responsibility to speak up and ask. If not, they will take longer to figure it out and essentially slow down the team.
3. Don’t do it on your own.
Find someone at the company who has gone through this transition successfully and seek them out for guidance and advice. Grab regular coffees or lunches with them to discuss different roadblocks or frustrations. Ask about their experiences; find similarities and apply what they’ve done. Whether it’s managing different personalities, multitasking, combining production and management, or working with leadership at a new level, a mentor can be a valuable resource for a first-time manager.
4. Learn to delegate.
The biggest mistake rookie managers make is not learning to trust their team and delegating. If they try to do every task and manage a team, they will spread themselves too thin and fail at both. Instead, they should look to see what needs their stamp of approval to move processes along, and things that don’t should be delegated.
5. Don’t take it for granted.
New managers need to understand that they can get demoted just as fast as they were promoted, and an inflated ego will be the first to do that. New managers have to gain the team’s respect and trust. They need to get the team’s buy-in, and this is especially hard if the person gets promoted to manage their own team. It’s important to take each person to coffee or lunch individually to get to know them better and better understand their motivators, strengths and weaknesses from the new manager-level perspective.
Adam Ochstein is the founder and CEO of StratEx, a Chicago-based firm that provides human resources software and services. StratEx helps companies manage the entire employee lifecycle online, from reviewing resumes and applications, to hiring and onboarding, time-off requests and payroll processing, terminations, resignations and exit interviews. StratEx helps companies manage HR processes so businesses can focus on employee relations.