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From prioritizing the well-being of your team to promoting workplace autonomy, here are the 15 answers to the question, “Can you give your best pieces of advice for first-time managers?”

  • Prioritize the Well-Being of Team Members
  • Provide Timely Feedback
  • Emphasize Trust-Building
  • Partner Up With Your HR
  • Talk to Your Team Often
  • Be Patient With Yourself
  • Have the Tough Conversations
  • Get a Good Mentor
  • Let Empathy Drive You
  • Adopt a Collective Success Mindset
  • Keep Corporate Decisions Open and Accessible
  • Pursue Efficiency Through Technology
  • Work on Communication and Active Listening Skills
  • Find Out What Your Team’s Feedback Styles Are
  • Promote Workplace Autonomy and Accountability

Prioritize the Well-Being of Team Members

One of the best pieces of advice for first-time managers is to focus on building relationships with their team members.  

It is important to create an open and inclusive work environment where team members feel comfortable coming to you with any concerns or ideas they may have. This can be accomplished by regularly holding one-on-one meetings with each team member, being approachable and supportive, and being willing to listen to and address any issues they may be facing. 

It is also crucial to be transparent in your communication with your team, as this will help to build trust and ensure that everyone agrees. Overall, the key to being a successful manager is to prioritize the well-being and success of your team members.

Saneem Ahearn, VP of Marketing, Colorescience

Provide Timely Feedback

According to a PwC survey, nearly 60% of respondents would prefer feedback on a daily or weekly basis, therefore this is my best piece of advice for first-time managers who want to flourish as leaders. 

Never wait until an employee’s annual evaluation to provide constructive criticism; do so whenever necessary. If the deadline for the project has already gone, your subordinates cannot implement your suggestions, and you risk creating further obstacles if you don’t act quickly. The trust of your staff will increase if you provide them with constructive criticism at appropriate intervals so that they can enhance their performance and develop professionally.

Gerrid Smith, Chief Marketing Officer, Joy Organics

Emphasize Trust-Building

This is the single most important piece of advice I can give to new managers: build trust with your team. Trusted people perform harder and are happier in their jobs because of it. Therefore, establishing trust should be a top priority. 

Set up separate meetings with each of your subordinates. In these discussions, inquire about their career aspirations and how you may be of help. Is there work they can do or training you can suggest if they desire to improve in a certain area? 

You may increase employee loyalty to the organization by investing in their professional development. The establishment of trust is another benefit of openness. Discuss the positive and negative outcomes of your decisions with the group once they have been made. Disseminate relevant data and progress updates, and inspire others to do the same. The team’s confidence will grow because of the open dialogue.

Edward Mellett, Co-Founder, Wikijob

Partner Up With Your HR

It happens more often than we think—excellent performance as an individual contributor opens up the door to a manager role. You want to do a good job, but you don’t even know where to start or how to get some training on the do’s and don’ts of being a manager.  

My recommendation is to contact HR, as they can be your best friend. HR can provide you with coaching and tools to be successful in your role and serve as a resource to help you navigate the challenges that will undoubtedly arise when managing your team. 

This partnership is key, as what you do and say, and likewise what you don’t or ignore, can create risk for your organization or be detrimental to an employee.

Patty Hickok, SPHR, GPHR, SHRM-SCP, Sr. Director Employee Relations, NANA 

Talk to Your Team Often

Have frequent check-ins with your team. When you’re managing for the first time, you want to make sure you have a strong rapport with your employees. Being a manager can take some getting used to, and your team will be in a great position to give you feedback on the expectations you’re setting for them. 

It will also help you get a sense of their goals, strengths, and interests that can help you lead them effectively. If you’re new to being a boss, make sure you put time on your calendar to talk to the people you’re managing.

Rachel Roff, Founder & CEO, Urban Skin Rx

Be Patient With Yourself

First-time managers are encouraged to discover their managing style through patience. Instead of imitating the style of others, or even emulating those you admire, you may fall flat with your audience because it’s important for your true self to shine. 

Your direct reports want to know you on a professional level to leverage their efforts when collaborating on a greater mission. Be yourself—it’s okay to not have all the answers. The secret is to accept that you will not know all the answers. 

Treat your direct reports as you would like to be treated. Set healthy and firm boundaries with your expectations by communicating them. Engage and get out of your head. Exercise patience with yourself to identify which strengths and weaknesses can be offset by surrounding yourself with the right people. 

It takes time to learn about the audience that you’re managing, which ‌will determine whom to trust and to what degree that can help you manage better. Don’t fear; embrace the learning curve.

Sasha Laghonh, Founder, Sasha Talks

Have the Tough Conversations

Feedback is sometimes tough, not only for the person receiving the feedback but often for the manager delivering the feedback as well. It’s important to remember that often the toughest conversations with employees open the door for more engagement, connection, and a better overall relationship.  

So have the tough conversation, while tough at the moment you’ll often realize the scenario played in your head was far worse than what you experienced, and the outcomes might actually bring you and the employee or the team closer and benefit the company in more ways than one.

Megan Blanco, Internship Coordinator, Career Coach, & Adjunct Faculty, University of Central Florida

Get a Good Mentor

If you’re a new manager who wants to do a good job, I suggest doing this because the issues you’re dealing with are probably not unique. No doubt someone in your organization or field has had to deal with an underperforming worker or the unpleasant task of explaining to an overachiever that the perks they’ve been promised aren’t assured. 

Because of this, it’s crucial to have a network of trusted advisors you can lean on for guidance and encouragement. If you study other people’s blunders, you can learn how to avoid making the same ones.

Kyle Bassett, Chief Operating Officer, Altitude Control

Let Empathy Drive You

Amidst the day-to-day tasks and hectic professional life, employees who become managers can forget the importance of soft skills like empathy. Although this may seem secondary, it’s actually what will bring your team closer together and make your work truly fruitful. 

Moreover, when you have empathy for each member of your team, you will gauge what’s good for them in the long run and work with them in a way that’s mutually beneficial.

Asma Hafejee, Sr. Marketing Executive, CMR Surgical

Adopt a Collective Success Mindset

First-time managers should always remember that they are not only responsible for their own work but also the work of their team. This means setting clear expectations and goals and being available to help team members when needed. 

You should also be sure to celebrate successes, big and small, as a way of reinforcing good work habits. Finally, always be respectful of your team members’ time and avoid asking them to do anything that is not absolutely necessary.

Grace He, People & Culture Director,

Keep Corporate Decisions Open and Accessible

In my opinion, this is the most vital piece of guidance I can give to aspiring managers. Managers have more access to executive decisions than their subordinates.

Disengagement might occur on your team if you decide in secret and abruptly alter their workflow without providing an explanation. Instead, you should be as forthright as you can be about any changes to corporate policy. By doing so, you can earn the respect of your team despite the difficulty of the adjustments you must implement.

Timothy Allen, Sr. Corporate Investigator, Corporate Investigation Consulting

Pursue Efficiency Through Technology

When you adopt a technology-driven approach as a first-time manager, you will make a first impression that is impactful in every way. 

First, this approach will help you drive your team forward in a manner that leaves them less exhausted, thanks to tech solutions that assist them in their tasks. Second, the effort will also save your organization a considerable amount of resources in the long run, enabling you to affect leadership too. 

More importantly, new technologies will help your team achieve high levels of productivity and efficiency, and these results are bound to reflect on your list of professional accomplishments.

Brendan McGreevy, Head of Strategy, Affinda

Work on Communication and Active Listening Skills

In the past, I’ve over-indexed on trying to find immediate solutions to challenges that came up in my team (workload, pay, culture, etc.). I’ve learned that it already helps to make your team feel heard, showing them you’re able to listen and understand their situation. 

If you’re new to managing a team, I’d recommend learning about active listening skills, e.g. by reading Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. It’ll make a big difference in your team’s performance and your relationships with team members.

Julian Schaaf, Head of Marketing, Gomada – Virtual Team Building

Find Out What Your Team’s Feedback Styles Are

Ask your team members how they prefer to receive feedback. Everyone has their own unique style of how they respond best. Some people want regular check-ins with constructive feedback. Others prefer less frequent communication. 

It’s also important to know which of your employees may want softer critiques when they need to make improvements. By understanding your team members and how they communicate, you’ll be better positioned to lead and help them grow.

Carrie Shaltz Haslup, Founder & CEO, Tabeeze

Promote Workplace Autonomy and Accountability

One misconception is quite common among first-time managers: “greater guidance leads to greater productivity.” This archaic concept is a counterproductive path that many first-time managers end up treading. Micromanagement leads to employee discontent and reduces workplace morale and a draconian work culture.

My best advice for you is to promote workplace autonomy where employees are encouraged to tackle problems and goals with creative liberty. This not only helps reduce communication delays but also fosters accountability, employee satisfaction, and workplace morale, which ultimately improves overall productivity.

Shawn Harris, CEO, UniqueGiftCards

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