5 things I've learned as a new manager.
5 things I've learned as a new manager.
I've had 'manager' in my job title for 18 months now, but it was only when I moved into my current role 2 months ago, that I officially became a line manager too. I no longer just manage campaigns and projects, but I manage people too. Crikey.
It was always the part that I was most nervous about in the run up to starting my new job. I have no experience of directly line managing one person, never mind two. There were so many thoughts swirling around in my head before my first day;
What if they don't like me?
What if they think I'm a bad boss?
What if they don't want to do what I ask them to or they respond badly?
I know that they're older than me... what if they don't respect the knowledge I have?
But, at the same time, I was inspired and motivated to do my absolute best as a new manager. I wasn't in any doubt that it wasn't going to come without it's challenges, but it's a challenge that excites me and one that I want to learn everything I can about.
I want to be a good boss. I've had my fair share of bad bosses, but I've also had many wonderful ones. I want to be one of the wonderful ones, and while being a people manager will always be an on-going learning curve for as long as I'm here, here are some of the things that I've learned in the last two months.
It's normal to feel like you don't know what you're doing.
I've lost count of the amount of times I've turned to my boss and said 'I feel like I don't know what I'm doing', only for him to turn around with 'I've not known what I'm doing for 20 years, Soph'.
As women, we're more prone to imposter-syndrome, feeling overwhelmed and having terrible, anxiety-inducing thoughts that we're not actually cut-out for this. You simply just have to trust that you're in the right place at the right time. Your boss wouldn't have hired you for the role if they didn't think you were good enough - the thought of which sometimes, gives me a confidence boost in itself.
As a new manager, you don't only have to get used to the additional responsibilities and tasks, but also other people, their daily tasks, their growth and success. That's a lot to take on all of a sudden. Be gentle with yourself but be confident. You've got this, even if it feels like you haven't!
Teach people how to problem solve rather than solving their problems.
If you get asked a question, your first reaction is normally to provide a quick solution by simply giving the answer or solving the problem yourself. If you're snowed under with work, this always seems like the best course of action, as it saves time for you both.
However, long-term, you may find that you're getting asked the same questions over and over - meaning the time you saved the first time, you're now having to spend explaining/doing it all over again!
As a manager, you have to remember that you're also responsible for the development of the people you manage, as well as their work, and it's important to find the time to teach them how to resolve similar problems by themselves, how to think in the right ways and how to find the answers without necessarily relying on you all of the time.
Don't be afraid to delegate.
After working in a team of 1 (not including my boss) for the last two years, and before that always being the one the work was delegated to, delegating work myself isn't something I'm used to.
Part of me was worried that the girls would just think I was palming the jobs off that I didn't want to do, and the other part of me.. well, she's a perfectionist and wanted to do everything herself.
I soon realised that that wasn't quite going to work out, and that I needed to make the most of the resource and incredible team that we have. I thought back to every time someone had delegated work to me - I didn't hate them for it, and in fact I welcomed the fact they trusted me with a task that they needed doing.
I realised that the girls wouldn't hate me for delegating work, but that it's just a part of the job as a team to get things done!
You can delegate work and still be a kind boss. So, if there's something you know a team member can do instead of you, explain what you need doing, trust them, and get cracking on your next task!
Be clear & set expectations.
I guess this one almost follows on from delegation, but if you're asking for some work to be done, be clear about what it is you need completing. Take the time to really explain and set your expectations for any deadlines and the quality of the work you expect, too.
Your team will only be successful if they know exactly what is expected and what they need to deliver on. It can be as formal as a sit-down meeting, or as simple as checking in with them in the mornings and at lunch to ensure everything is okay.
These expectations can also extend to daily occurances, such as how you prefer to communicate, the 'ground rules' on time keeping and general office etiquette. The clearer you are from the get-go, the better and easier it will be for everyone.
Learn what they're good at & what they want to do.
The best boss I've ever had once sat me down, and asked me the following questions:
'Which parts of your job do you enjoy the most, and which parts do you enjoy the least?'
'Is there anything you would like to do more of? And is there anything you would like to do less of so you can do more of what you want to do more of?'
I remember this conversation so clearly, because I just thought it was the best conversation to have. My boss really wanted me to be motivated at work, and be doing the things that I want to do in order to meet my own personal goals.
One of the ways you're going to get the best out of your team, is if they're working on tasks and projects that they're good at, and that they want to do. So, if haven't got round to having that actual conversation with them yet, try and identify what really makes them motivated and what they excel at, and then provide the team with these tasks and projects to get the best out of everyone.