Your first day as a manager can be one of the most daunting of your career. You’re suddenly responsible for not only your own projects but also the work of those on your team — many of whom were your peers just the day before. It’s a major transition. That’s why it’s important to get it right from the very beginning and convince employees to trust your leadership.
And seasoned managers, what about you? Are work pressures causing you to fall into bad boss habits, like helicoptering over employees to ensure things get done right and on time? Is your department experiencing low morale or a higher-than-expected turnover rate? If so, perhaps it’s time to step back, revisit some basics and refresh your management approach.
Below are five new manager tips that can help new managers hit the ground running, and seasoned managers brush up on the fundamentals that will help them refine their leadership:
1. Maintain a professional tone
Keeping things professional at work sounds like a no-brainer, but it can be tricky to monitor the performance of people who are your friends or close associates. Tasks like performance reviews and disciplinary action can be especially awkward. In fact, 19 percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed for a recent Robert Half Management Resources survey said supervising friends or former peers is one of the most difficult parts of becoming a manager for the first time.
View an infographic of the survey results here.
Maintaining a professional tone while on the job includes not griping about policies, the workload or senior leadership — things you may have done in the past as a staff-level employee. Another tip: Don’t overshare details of your personal life. However, do remain on friendly terms with your colleagues and continue to socialize with them. Also, be sure to treat all team members fairly so that you avoid the perception of having favorites.
2. Don’t micromanage
As highly trained professionals, accounting and finance staff don’t need much direction once they’ve been given their assignments. They deserve feedback and recognition, of course, but they don’t need their manager looking over their shoulders or constantly asking for status updates. Good bosses know it’s important to trust their team to do what they were hired to do. And that’s why “don’t micromanage” is one of the most essential new manager tips.
Admittedly, a hands-off approach can seem counterintuitive. Isn’t it your job to get involved and make sure everything is getting done? Yes. But the most effective leaders ensure their staff members have what they need to succeed — from technical resources to training and professional development. And once their team is set up, they let them get down to work.
3. Delegate when possible
Delegating can be hard, but it’s one of the most important new manager tips to apply. It’s good for your own productivity and success on the job: In the Robert Half Management Resources survey mentioned earlier, 32 percent of CFOs said balancing individual job responsibilities with the time spent overseeing staff was the biggest challenge of becoming a new manager.
When you share the department’s responsibilities across your team, it helps your employees to grow. It also lets you focus on higher-level tasks like budgeting, strategy-setting and generating new business. But how do you hand things over when you’re used to doing everything yourself (or feel like you can do things better)?
Delegating effectively starts with good communication. Find the right person for each task, give them clear instructions, and offer both praise and constructive criticism, as appropriate. Have an open-door policy so that the team members you delegate to can come to you with questions and concerns.
4. Encourage work-life balance
Your employees have responsibilities outside the office. An inspiring leader understands this and does all he or she can to help staff juggle their personal and professional lives without getting overwhelmed. As a manager, there’s much you can do to help your workers achieve that balance. A few examples include allowing flexible schedules, telecommuting, job sharing and a compressed workweek. Also, encourage people to use all their vacation days.
But that’s not enough. You also need to set a good example. If you stay late every night, you may be unintentionally creating a corporate culture where workaholism is rewarded — and that’s simply not healthy. So, look after your own well-being. And if you or your employees are burning the candle at both ends because there’s simply too much to do, consider hiring more full-time staff or bringing in interim support.
5. Expand your network
New manager tips for success include getting to know and building rapport with others who are working at the same level in your organization. You can do this by stepping up cross-departmental collaboration.
Get to know the directors and principals in sales, marketing, IT, human resources, legal and so on. See how the finance team can help improve their key metrics and quarterly results. Get your groups together to brainstorm strategy. By building relationships throughout the organization, you’re honing your business acumen — a definite asset as you continue to advance in your career.
It also wouldn’t hurt to ask senior executives for advice on how to motivate staff, balance your management responsibilities, and walk the fine line between friend and boss. You may even wish to ask one of them for professional mentoring as you learn to manage a team and develop your leadership skills. (Even seasoned managers can benefit from mentoring arrangements.)
Being a manager can be rough sailing at times, including for those who’ve been at the helm for years. That’s why it’s good practice for all managers to think proactively and critically about whether and when they may need to improve their approach to their role and responsibilities. The new manager tips outlined above can be useful for any manager who wants to chart a course for management success.