Stepping into a management role for the first time is a big transition. It represents the culmination of years of hard work and mastery within an organization.
However, most first time managers feel like they are starting from ground zero.
With the exception of a small number of people with natural leadership skills, most people don’t know what to expect when leading a team for the first time. Below, we unpack three things your first time managers need to know during their first few weeks in order to become successful managers.
1. One-on-One Time is Crucial
Your managers are the “boss” now. That means their team looks to them for guidance and feedback, both positive and constructive. One of the best outlets to provide guidance and feedback to help team members improve performance is during regularly held one-on-one meetings.
One-on-ones are an opportunity to connect on a regular basis (as frequently as once a week) to discuss job priorities, key metrics, and questions that team members might have. New managers should get in the habit of setting recurring meetings on their calendars with all of their direct reports for one-on-ones.
To help your managers structure their one-on-ones, check out this list of 24 great one-on-one meeting questions from Culture Amp People Scientist, Chloe Hamman.
2. There’s a Balance to the Day-to-Day Work
There are three types of managers – those who stay in the trenches, tackling projects hands-on more often than not, and those who immediately shift into the new office and don’t do the work. Ideally, you want managers who are the third type – those with a balanced level of involvement in the day-to-day of their team.
Managers have skills and experience that are valuable to the company and should be used strategically to support the efforts of their teams. At the same time, their role is now to be the leader, not the doer. Their team is there to support the goals of the organization and get the work done, but they need a new manager’s trust that they can do it on their own.
Being willing to step back and let others do the day-to-day is an important first step in management. However, on a tight deadline, when someone is on vacation, or when short staffed, managers who jump in feet first to show they’re willing to do whatever it takes to achieve the organization’s goals. It’s all about the balance.
3. Your Interpersonal Relationships Will Change
This last one is tough for a lot of first time managers, especially in young companies with a tightly knit staff. They probably have people on their team that used to be peers or even friends. This relationship changes when someone is promoted to management, and it’s important to acknowledge what that means.
New managers should set guidelines early and discuss their new dynamic with their team to remove any ambiguity. If something feels awkward or uncomfortable, managers should know to address it as soon as possible, pulling in HR if needed, so everyone knows what’s expected of them.
It’s also a great time for new managers to build new connections. They’ve inherited a new group of peers, fellow managers, that they can seek out for advice or collaboration. Informal or formal mentoring programs for new managers can provide additional support from more senior managers at your company.
Transforming from Individual Contributor to Manager
Even if it’s someone’s first time being a manager, they are a leader and a trusted source of advice and guidance for a team of fellow professionals. When you take the time to onboard new managers like new employees, equipping them with the support they need to succeed, you set them, their team, and your company up for success.
The simple actions above, like learning the importance of one-on-ones, finding a balanced level of involvement in day-to-day work, and embracing the change of workplace relationships, are a great first step for any new manager.