The 10 Most Important Lessons New Managers Should Learn

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Lessons New Managers Should LearnAs many people know, becoming a new manager can be a simultaneously exhilarating and nerve-wracking experience. This is the case for many reasons, including the fact that such positions entail a lot of authority and responsibility. Despite the challenges and frustrations that one might experience upon getting acclimated to a new position as manager, there are several lessons that-when learned-can help a new manager operate with confidence and ease. Here are ten principles new managers should consider carefully:

1. You Need Other People

One of the greatest challenges that a new manager can have is making the transition from managing the self to managing other people. When this shift transpires, the new manager should keep in mind that accomplishing important tasks will no longer be an endeavor that happens through individual effort. Because this is the case, the new manager should cultivate the interpersonal and leadership skills necessary to successfully interact with other people.

2. You Cannot Avoid Tough Conversations

While consciously refusing to have conversations about important issues in your personal life can be problematic, opting for this route in your professional life can be disastrous. Although there can be a plethora of problems that warrant discussion, an example of such an issue would be addressing substandard performance on an important assignment. When a new manager refuses to have conversations about potentially embarrassing subjects such as this, employees are likely to fore-go excellence in the name of expediency or simply misunderstand what is required of them. For this reason, continually communicating with one’s team will be integral to a new manager’s success.

3. You Must Understand Your Company’s Policies

Oftentimes, a new manager is hired because of their education and/or experience within a certain field. Despite this abstract and concrete knowledge, however, new managers often find that they don’t understand basic, important dynamics of the new company they will work for. One such basic dynamic is a company’s policies. It is critically important that new managers take the time to familiarize themselves with these policies, because they oftentimes play a very integral role in the daily operations of the company. Moreover, employees who have been with the company for extended periods of time often question the authority and competence of new hires who are not yet familiar with the ins and outs of the organization. Demonstrating knowledge of a company’s policies is a great way for the new managers to show preexisting employees their willingness to learn new things and conform to the company’s culture.

4. You Need Training.

Despite the fact that new managers are often hired because of an excellent skill set or reputation for doing things with excellence and expedience, there will still be many unique aspects of the new company that they will have to learn about in order to have success. Demonstrating a willingness to learn is important given that a teachable attitude shows your team that you are interested in knowledgeable authority rather than being arrogant or presumptuous in the position that you hold. In discussing these very issues in their important article “20 Tips for New Managers,” Ellen M. Hazeur and Cathy Harris point out that employees will often experience less resentment when new managers train. This resentment, as many know, results from the fact that an employee could potentially know more than a person in a position over them.

5. Leadership Is Not A Position, But An Attitude

This is one of the most important principles that a new manager should learn. Clearly, being a manager is a leadership position which will entail providing other team members with guidance and instruction regarding how to properly complete a task or project. Despite the fact that being a manager indicates that the person holding the title possesses authority, however, the emphasis should not be placed on the position itself. Rather, emphasis should be placed on the type of attitude-and resulting actions-that come along with holding the position. Specifically, an individual who occupies a position of leadership should focus on cultivating and using a wide range of leadership skills that will entail both personal success as well as the greater good of the company.

6. Character Counts

Oftentimes, individuals who occupy positions of authority feel that they do not have to embody and actualize the type of character traits that many of us associate with being a good moral agent. Nevertheless, character counts as much for leaders as it does for those who follow them. This is the case for many reasons, including the fact that a leader-such as a new manager-has the power to set the moral tone of the company she or he works for. In addition to this, poor character that is revealed can translate into earning the company a bad reputation or the loss of the management position. Cultivating character-in the form of things like discipline, patience, persistence, honesty, diligence, authenticity, stability, and vigilance-can be an integral success component for the new manager. For more information on this subject, view Jessica Harper’s important article, “10 Tips For New Managers.”

7. Accountability is Everything

The importance of accountability in the world of business cannot be overemphasized, and it is especially important for the new manager. Although broadly defined, accountability is essentially a process of continual interaction between two or more persons that is established and sustained for the purpose of ensuring that at least one party involved is responsible to another for attitudes and actions. Accountability functions in a wide variety of ways, and almost all of them are positive. First, accountability often quells the individual’s will to perform an unethical or inappropriate behavior because the risk of remonstrance-in the form of demotion, job loss, or some other repercussion-greatly diminishes the desire to say or do something dishonest or unscrupulous. In addition to this, accountability gives the new manager an opportunity to continually dialogue with another person about actions and attitudes that are proving either advantageous or disadvantageous for self and other. Thus by meeting with an accountability partner, the new manager has continual opportunities for personal and professional growth.

8. Maximize Common Courtesy Principles

This strategy is especially important for new managers. During the infancy stages of leadership, a new manager’s team will often carefully analyze her or his behavior to determine whether they intend to simply boss everyone around or want to foster positive, functional relationships with others. One way for team members to make such assessments is to carefully analyze how the new manager interacts with others. Omitting acts of “common courtesy”-such as saying thank you or offering others a breath mint after a meal-can be a red flag for employees who are attempting to determine whether a new manager wants to be part of a team or simply act in dictatorial fashion. A great manager will opt for the former modality, and will maximize common courtesy principles to make their leadership style known to others.

9. Teach Others

Great managers are not intimidated by the concept of others acquiring their skill set. Instead, they want people beneath them to expand their skill set for their own personal growth as well as the further development of the company as a composite entity. New managers should tap into this principle and willingly teach others such that the negative aspects of having a competitive spirit do not dominate the view others have of them.

10. Take Constructive Criticism Seriously

Unfortunately, people often criticize others for the purpose of ridiculing or irritating them. Despite this fact, however, much of the criticism we receive is constructive, meaning that it is designed to improve the actions and attitudes of the receiver. Since this is the case, managers-and especially new managers-should take constructive criticism seriously rather than brushing it off. In short, constructive criticism provides the new manager with a clear understanding of areas where improvements can be made to benefit both self and other.

While new managers can experience a great degree of frustration or anxiety regarding their new position, implementing the aforementioned strategies can help facilitate the type of success that eradicates self-doubt and irritation. By learning important lessons regarding how to properly manage self and others early on, new managers are likely to experience a great degree of positivity and productivity in the workplace.

Related Resource: The 10 Biggest Management Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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