10 Tips for New Managers

I was recently asked by a friend of mine to share some tips for managing a team at a young age. I’ve figured out many of these things the hard way, but I figured it might be helpful to share with people who are just starting to manage a team. Your boss is the #1 factor for if you are happy and fulfilled in your job which means new managers have a lot of responsibility to figure it out quickly, and do it well. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you are leading a successful and high functioning team:

Be a Sherpa

This isn’t about you. A company is only successful when you are providing an exceptional product or service to the world. A dysfunctional team or disgruntled employee will not solve problems effectively or innovate. Guide and support your team so they can overcome great obstacles. Celebrate their wins, don’t take it as a win for yourself.

Say Hello

People want to be noticed and appreciated. Make it a point to say hello to every one of your team members every single day. The worst thing you can do is go straight to your desk and put your headphones on without acknowledging those who work hard for you.

Give, Don’t Take

Unfortunately, I’ve seen the worst managers take credit for their team’s work.  It is incredibly painful to see and is a good way to burn through trust with your employees. Make sure that if you are presenting a result, plan or a great idea that came from the team, mention the key people involved. It takes a village.

Celebrating Team Wins

I don’t think we do this enough. While it is fine to Slack a thank you to someone, it is something else to celebrate it in real life.  Also, it has been proven that non-financial rewards and experiences have a greater and more long lasting effect on employee satisfaction.  Getting away from the office with a field trip to the zoo, the beach or the mountains is a great way to build deeper bonds and memories.  Some of my favorite experiences are an impromptu kickball game at a park and volunteering at an animal shelter. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just unique.

Over-Communicate Team Successes

I cannot over stress how important it is to communicate frequently with outside teams about the projects and successes your team is having.  If you aren’t talking about it, people assume nothing is happening. A regular recap of wins or informal meetings with other leaders in the company will go a long way to build confidence and support for your team.

Provide Skill Building Opportunities

Another great way for your team members to get exposed to others is to provide them a platform for them to voice their work. Encourage them to present in a QBR or even at town hall events where they can showcase what they’ve been up to across the company. Instead of you presenting at a leadership meeting, ask the person who owns the project to present.  It will help them build their soft skills of executive presence and confidence, and helps you build delegation skills.

Don’t Have All the Answers

A lot of new managers think they have to have all of the answers, when they are talking with their direct reports, peers or bosses.  I’d rather work with someone who is curious to learn, than who thinks they know everything when they obviously don’t. Pretending you know everything just makes you look cocky and hard to work with.  Also - ask your team. They are work everyday with these problems and probably have some pretty good ideas if you just ask.

Connect as a Human

I think a lot of us race through our checklist everyday without taking a second to just check in with those around them. We are all craving connection and some of us literally ignore the person sitting next to us for 8+ hours a day. Ask how people are doing, and truly mean it. If they need a little help, offer some time for them.  If they have a lot of energy to spare, harness it to help propel your mood.

Practice Gratitude

Give and be open to receive gratitude. Make it point every day to thank someone.  Recognize the big and the small. The University of Pennsylvania (UP), a study concluded that when leaders are grateful to their employees, the employees are 50% more successful.  And the power of reciprocity works in this situation. The more you appreciate others, the more is spreads throughout the organization.

Get a Coach

I’ve found it extremely helpful to partner with a trusted professional coach outside the workplace. I find myself recommending my coach all of the time.  She’s helped me tremendously as a manager to walk through difficult conversations before I have them, and has given me many tips over the years to be a better coach, not just a workhorse.  If you’re looking for a coach, I highly recommend looking into BetterUp.

Quickly building a credible reputation as a young leader doesn’t happen overnight, but taking these principles and applying them every day to your work is a step in the right direction. In reality, these are some of the things that I have learned over the years that I hope you will find useful. We are the leaders of tomorrow, so up to you what you do with that opportunity.

Heather Watkinsmanaging