Congratulations! You've just been promoted to your first management position. You're going to be responsible for leading and motivating your team to accomplish overarching goals for your organization. Now what?
If you've never been in a leadership role before, you may be a bit intimidated by the prospect of having a group of people look to you for answers. Many first-time managers learn through trial and error what works and what doesn't, but there are still a few things you can do to make the transition easier. Management and HR experts shared their advice for succeeding as a new manager.
1. Use existing strengths to meet new expectations
When you move up to a leadership position, your day-to-day activities and overall role in the company are obviously going to change. The challenge that many new managers face is understanding how the skills and strengths they gained in their previous position can help them adjust to their new one.
"Changing roles is like making a pivot in a basketball game," said Ashley Goodall, chief learning officer at business consulting firm Deloitte. "You are anchored by your areas of strength, and they don't change as you move. But the expectations of you shift as you go in a new direction. As you move into a management position, you will be orchestrating the work instead of doing it. The trick will be to pay attention to the expectations of your new role and to figure out how to put your strengths to work in different ways."
Goodall advised identifying your current strengths and building upon them to fulfill the expectations that come with your promotion. [5 Simple Ways to Become a Better Leader]
2. Transparency is key
As a nonmanagerial employee, you probably didn't have access to a lot of the company information your boss did. Now that you're a leader, you'll be a more involved in planning and strategy work, and it's important to keep your team informed about what's going on in the organization as a whole.
"First-time managers often underestimate the importance of transparency," said David Niu, founder and CEO of employee engagement tool TINYpulse. "They often hold information that their team members don't have access to. They can avoid being seen as uncommunicative by being willing to share information such as budget, customer feedback and strategic plans. Transparency can also help staff better understand their role as part of a bigger picture and thus, feel more connected to the company and team."
3. Establish a strong relationship with your team
One of the biggest mistakes new managers make is failing to develop good working relationships with their team members, said Gretchen Spreitzer, professor of management and organizations at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business. First-time leaders often default to "performance" mode, and are overly concerned about how productive the group is and how they look to their own boss. This doesn't work if the leader hasn't taken the time to develop good working relationships with his or her team.
"Instead of trusting and empowering people, they're micromanaging," Spreitzer told Business News Daily. "Anyone in a new [managerial] position should get to know their people before they start establishing changes."
Getting to know your team members and finding out how they're doing, not only in their careers but in their personal lives, is a great way to create the necessary rapport to work well as a group, Sprietzer said. Holding regular one-on-one meetings to check in with your employees can also help you establish good relationships with them.
4. Recognize your employees when they do a good job
To truly build a great culture and dynamic among your team, it's important to give your employees credit when it's due.
"Take time to build recognition into the team culture," Niu said. "Frequent recognition fosters a positive team environment and creates a culture of gratitude. Don't just wait until the big wins to recognize team members. For example, thank employees who took the initiative to clean up after an office party."
5. Accept feedback, but find your own unique way to lead
Everyone's going to have their own opinions and advice on how you should lead. While it's good to listen to what your mentors have to say, you ultimately must develop your own unique leadership style.
"My greatest challenge was to understand that I needed to figure out for myself the best way to lead and have an impact on my organization and teams, instead of worrying about other people's approaches," Goodall said. "New managers who are leading for the first time should ask themselves, 'Why would anyone follow me?' It's an easy question to overlook but one that I think is at the heart of what it means to be a leader. Everyone answers the question differently, and it's important to start thinking now about how you will lead in your own unique way. Leaders attract followers because of what they stand for and how they help their team grow."
Sprietzer noted that modeling your management style after a boss you really looked up to and admired is a good place to start, but being yourself is what matters most.
"Leverage and play to your own strengths," Sprietzer said. "Don't be who you're not."
Originally published on Business News Daily.