7 To-Do’s as a First-Time Manager

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7 To-Do's as a First-Time Manager

One of the most exciting things about being a new manager is that you have the incredible opportunity to impact your immediate work environment, foster a culture of innovation and growth, and ultimately lead your team to success.

Piece of cake right?

Well, not exactly. Studies have repeatedly shown that up to 60% of new managers fail or underperform in their first two years on the job.

So, how can you gain the respect and trust of your direct reports while creating a positive and productive atmosphere that benefits everyone? Here are seven crucial actions every first-time manager should undertake to be successful in their first leadership role.

1. Invest in Relationships 

As a new manager, it is important to invest in building relationships with your direct reports. Spend time getting to know each person and taking an interest in their work. This will help establish trust, open up lines of communication, and set you up for success in the long run.

Here are 3 tips to help you develop the right relationships:

    1. Practice active listening: Take the time to truly understand your team members’ perspectives, concerns, and ideas. By actively listening, you demonstrate empathy, build trust, and create a supportive environment.
    2. Provide regular feedback: Offer constructive feedback and recognition to your team members. Regular feedback helps them grow, stay motivated, and feel valued. Remember to balance positive feedback and areas for improvement in your feedback to foster continuous development.
    3. Be approachable and accessible: Encourage open communication by being approachable and accessible to your team. Create an environment where your team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, asking questions, and seeking guidance.

Additional Resource:

2. Check for Understanding

Effective communication is vital for any manager. Checking for understanding ensures that your messages are received and interpreted correctly. After explaining expectations to your team, regularly check in to make sure everyone understands what needs to be done. Ask questions about upcoming tasks or discuss any misunderstandings that may have occurred along the way so both parties are clear on how to move forward successfully.

To help you check for understanding, you can:

    1. Encourage questions: Foster an environment where questions are welcomed and encouraged. When assigning tasks or providing instructions, invite your team members to ask questions to clarify any doubts or uncertainties.
    2. Seek understanding: Regularly engage in two-way communication with your team members. Aim to get insights into their understanding of goals, expectations, and project requirements. This allows you to address any misunderstandings promptly.
    3. Recap and summarize: After important discussions or meetings, recap the key points and ask your team members to summarize their understanding. This exercise helps ensure alignment and gives you an opportunity to correct any misconceptions.

3. Keep Learning 

Staying updated on new trends and best practices related to managing teams helps keep you at the top of your game as a leader.

Participate in leadership training, consider working with a coach or talk with seasoned managers in order to gain more insight into team dynamics and effective management techniques that can benefit your own team’s performance over time.

Click here to learn more about how we help leaders grow.

4. Share Updates & Set Deadlines 

Make sure you’re keeping everyone informed by sharing updates on projects and the company as well as keeping them up-to-date on any changes that may arise along the way. Establishing deadlines helps keep everyone on track, so be sure to set deadlines for tasks when applicable and provide timely reminders when needed.

Three ways you can effectively share updates and set meaningful deadlines include:

    1. Implement a commitment tracker: Keep a record of the commitments and agreements you make with your direct reports. This practice not only helps you meet your set deadlines, enhancing your reputation for reliability and trustworthiness, but it also fosters an environment of accountability. You can use this tracker to check in with team members who may have missed agreed-upon deadlines.
    2. Use project management tools: Leverage project management tools and software to track progress, share updates, and assign tasks. These tools streamline communication and provide transparency on project timelines and responsibilities.
    3. Break down goals and deadlines: Break down larger goals into smaller, achievable targets with specific deadlines. This approach helps your team stay focused, measure progress, and meet deadlines consistently.

Additional Resources:

5. Maintain Transparency 

Communicating openly with employees encourages trust throughout the workplace and sets clear expectations for everyone involved. This transparency also helps reduce feelings of isolation, which can help prevent or counter any negative “political” activity within the organization.

We’ve already discussed the importance of sharing updates and deadlines but when maintaining overall transparency, it comes down to a lot more than that. Your team needs to trust that you will share any timely information about decisions and changes that could impact their work. Not only does this build their trust in your leadership, but it also helps the team understand the context behind organizational decisions made at the top levels.

Transparency also means owning up to and admitting mistakes. Be open and honest about any mistakes, challenges, or setbacks. By acknowledging and addressing them transparently, you create an environment where your team feels comfortable discussing issues and working collaboratively to find solutions.

Be sure to involve your team in decision-making as much as possible. Seek their input, opinions, and ideas. This not only fosters a sense of ownership but also generates diverse perspectives that can lead to more innovative and effective solutions.

6. Avoid Gossip 

While it may feel natural to chime in when coworkers are chatting about a certain situation or individual, it’s best to stay out of office gossip whenever possible – such conversations are rarely productive and could lead to further mistrust among team members. Instead, redirect conversations by introducing more positive topics or asking people to focus on the work being done.

Additional Resource: E41 From Bud to Boss – A Coaching Conversation with Jen

7. Compromise When Possible 

Leadership often requires finding common ground and reaching compromises. While it’s important to stand up for your beliefs and ideas and to present your opinions with conviction, it’s also essential to show flexibility and be willing to compromise when necessary in order to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

Three things you can do to master the art of compromising are:

    1. Understand different perspectives: Take the time to understand the viewpoints of your team members or stakeholders involved in a decision or negotiation. Seek to find the underlying interests and priorities driving their positions.
    2. Identify shared goals: Look for shared goals or objectives that align with the interests of all parties involved. Focus on finding win-win solutions that address these common goals while considering the diverse perspectives at play.
    3. Foster a collaborative environment: Create an atmosphere where collaboration and compromise are valued. Encourage open discussion, brainstorming, and active listening. By fostering a culture of collaboration, you can encourage creative problem-solving and build stronger relationships within your team.

By following these seven essential to-do’s, you’ll establish a solid foundation for success as a first-time manager. Remember to prioritize building relationships, communicate effectively, continue learning, maintain transparency, avoid gossip, and seek compromise when needed. With these strategies in place, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an effective and respected leader in your organization.

To learn more about our new manager training programs, click here.


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