You’ve worked hard to be promoted to a leadership position. You want to get off on the right foot with your staff — and show your boss that she made the right decision in choosing you for the job. But now that you are a bona fide new manager, you are also realizing just how much responsibility you’ve agreed to take on. You may wonder: “How am I going to do all of this?”
First, take comfort in knowing that it’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed. It’s not easy being a new manager and you will need some time to settle into the role.
You also must adapt to the varied work styles and needs of your staff members, plus meet a slew of new performance expectations at the firm. To top it all off, figuring out how to juggle your own projects and make time for your staff members’ needs — which you absolutely must do — is difficult.
In a recent Robert Half Management Resources survey, nearly one-third (32 percent) of CFOs said balancing individual job responsibilities with time spent overseeing others is the biggest challenge for new managers.
Despite the daunting to-do list before you, it’s important to your success as a new manager to avoid rookie mistakes, such as overextending yourself, failing to delegate and micromanaging your team, which can undermine your ability to find the balance you seek. Following are some tips to help you steer clear of these missteps and succeed at staff management:
Make your calendar work for you
Now that you’re a new manager, you need to be even more strategic when planning your work schedule.
First, set regular meetings with your team. (And to help ensure you make the best use of that time, see this post on running effective meetings.) Also, if possible, leave room on your calendar for set “office hours”— perhaps two hours every other Friday morning, for example — when your staff members are free to stop by without an appointment to discuss any issues or concerns with you.
Then, block off specific times during the workweek when you will focus solely on your own tasks. Be sure to include some “think time” on your calendar as well. This is something many entrepreneurs and business leaders do and find that it helps them to be more productive.
Empower your employees
“Managing” does not mean “doing everything yourself.” New managers often think differently, though. They worry that if they don’t try to take on every demand that comes their way, their staff or their boss will somehow think that they aren’t able to handle the pressures of their new role.
However, one of the best things a new manager can do is delegate projects to their team. Not only will assigning responsibilities to others help you stick to the strategic schedule you have outlined (see above), it also demonstrates your confidence in your team.
Take care to strike the right balance here, too. Team members should feel that they are being given an opportunity to build their skills while making an important contribution to the firm — and aren't being dumped on. If there is any risk that you would be asking too much of your staff to take on more work because they already have full plates, talk to your supervisor about engaging interim support.
Resist the temptation to micromanage
Hovering over your employees’ shoulders is a surefire way to stifle productivity and innovation in your department and diminish morale. While you are certainly accountable for the success of your team, as a whole, your staff members are responsible for their tasks and meeting the specific expectations outlined for their roles. To do that, they need to be allowed to work autonomously as much as possible, and be free to make their own decisions — and yes, mistakes.
Instead of micromanaging, clearly communicate what you expect from your staff members — as well as what they can expect from you as their new manager. This will help to foster a positive and collaborative relationship between you and your team. They will know that you trust them to do good work and that they can look to you for support when needed.
Lastly, if you want to succeed as a new manager, be willing to cut yourself some slack. Accept that you will need time to “learn the ropes” and refine your leadership skills. Also, recognize that you are likely to make some mistakes along the way. And when your staff members see that you are putting forth an earnest effort, and working with them to improve the company, they’ll be quick to rally around you.