When you’re new to people management, you may find it difficult to know what tasks are important and what tasks can wait (or what tasks you can ignore altogether).
However, becoming an effective manager requires you to separate the should-dos from the don’t- have-to-dos. In this article Bob Nelson and Peter Economy consider ten tasks that every new manager should do.
1) Set Clear Goals and Expectations
When you’re crystal clear about what you want your employees to do and when you want it done, your employees can prioritize their own work to ensure that they meet your deadlines. Goals must be realistic, and you must ensure that your employees have bought into them and committed to achieving them. By making your employees a part of the goal-setting process, you not only get their vital input on the goals, but you also increase employee engagement.
2) Don’t Play Favorites
Employees know when a manager is playing favorites — they can sense it a mile away. Of course, people naturally like some people better than others — interpersonal chemistry simply favors some relationships over others. However, as a manager, your job is to be as impartial and fair as you possibly can in how you treat your employees. You can’t punish an employee you don’t like so much and then excuse the same behavior in an employee you do like. And you can’t give favored employees raises, time off, bonuses, and other rewards when employees you don’t favor exhibit the same performance or achieve the same goals or milestones.
3) Set a Good Example
As a manager, you set the example for all the employees who work for you, and you influence the behavior of your peers and colleagues. The example you set sends a clear message about the kinds of behavior you personally find acceptable in the workplace. If you’re chronically late to work, your employees will assume that being late for work is okay, and they’ll be late, too. If you aren’t ethical in your business dealings with customers, clients, and vendors, your employees will assume that they also don’t have to behave ethically.
4) Remember That You Get What You Reward
Managers are often surprised when an employee exhibits a particular behavior or achieves a particular goal that’s completely different from what they intended. When that’s the case, you need to take a close look at exactly what behavior you are rewarding. For example, you may tell your employees that you want them to submit suggestions for cutting costs. However, when an employee submits an idea, you ignore it completely. In this case, instead of rewarding employees for submitting ideas, you’re punishing them for it.
5) Get to Know Your People
You may not be inviting your employees to your house for Christmas, but there’s nothing wrong with getting to know them as people. In fact, you stand to gain a lot by having good personal relationships with your employees. These benefits may include increased levels of trust and loyalty, better communication, and higher performance. Involve employees in decision making and get them engaged in their jobs. When you do that, they want to achieve the goals that you set together.
6) Learn How to Delegate
Delegation is perhaps the most powerful tool at the disposal of any manager — it’s the way managers get work done. Delegation is a win-win activity. When you delegate, others do much of the day-to-day work of the organization, freeing you up to manage, plan, and take on more complex work, with the potential for earning a higher salary. As your employees develop a broader range of skills, they’ll be ready to move up with you. This partnership builds trust, enhances your career potential, and improves the health of your organization.
7) Find a Good Mentor
Especially for a new manager, a good mentor can give you the kind of guidance and feedback that’s hard to find anywhere else. Your mentor mixes experience with candid assessments of your performance to help nudge you in the right direction. In every good mentor relationship, both the mentor and the person who is mentored can learn and grow from the experience.
8) Encourage Teamwork
Many tasks now get done through teamwork, and organizations are changing the way they do business. Organizations no longer measure employees only by their individual contributions; they also take into account how effective employees are as contributing members of their work teams. Carefully assess work assignments and decide whether it makes more sense to assign them to individuals or to teams of employees. Reward your employees when they exhibit good teamwork skills.
9) Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
As a new manager, set aside some time each day to communicate with your employees. Walk through the work area to casually meet with employees and discuss current projects or customers. Keep in touch with employees through e-mail messages or telephone calls. Have regular staff meetings to discuss current opportunities and issues and to keep employees updated on the latest company happenings.
10) Be a Coach
A good coach helps employees perform at a higher level, in the same way that a baseball, football, or soccer coach helps athletes. Coaches do this by offering support on how to perform better, giving valuable feedback, and supporting the people they coach. They help employees gain confidence, and they applaud their efforts when employees make progress toward completing a goal. As a manager, you’re in the perfect position to coach the people in your department or other organizational unit.
Adapted from Bob Nelson and Peter Economy, Managing for Dummies, Wiley