6 Ideas To Help You Become the Manager You’ve Always Wanted To Be

Connor Duffy gives advice on how to become a great manager.

Congratulations! You’ve finally landed the opportunity to lead your own team. That’s really exciting and probably a little scary. You’re responsible for the quality of work, effectiveness, and growth of a team. Plus, you now have to navigate new territories, including hiring, professional development, dealing with turnover, and more.

Your managerial role is going to have many shining moments and a few challenges. So, to help get you off to a great start, I’ve put together 6 tips to help you lead your team. 

1. Observe before introducing your agenda.

Whether you’re heading to a leadership meeting or leading your first team meeting as a manager, you’ll want to start by observing your colleagues and direct reports. Observation is a critical and often underrated managerial skill – one that is common amongst influential leaders. 

Suppose you intend to introduce or push a new process or structure without observing how others perceive your words and actions. In that case, you’ll probably miss clues about how the teams are currently working together. However, observation will allow you to see the current level of trust and can help you form a plan that’s best for your team. 

My favorite example of how observation can work is portrayed in Patrick Lencioni’s leadership book, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.”

2. Set up open lines of communication.

Being a great communicator is vital as a manager, but it’s just as imperative to be a great listener. 

By setting clear expectations about transparency, you can establish guidelines for giving and receiving feedback. This type of inclusive culture allows team members to voice their concerns, opinions, and ideas. You can encourage authenticity and vulnerability by leading by example. Ask for input when you feel stuck. Or, ideate with your team and show that you’re open to wherever the conversation leads.

3. Make your team a spot for growth.

Many marketers and creatives are interested in continuously growing their skills and careers. And, research shows that focusing on individual development reduces turnover and leads to happier, more productive employees. 

As a leader, you can focus on helping your employees progress – individually and collectively. First, develop relationships with your employees personally so you can help them leverage their interests and talents. Then, by learning what works and what doesn’t for each employee, you can begin to identify and remove obstacles allowing your team to perform at its best.

 4. Praise publicly, critique privately.

 Oftentimes, your team members will hit it out of the park. And, sometimes, they’re going to fall on their faces. In both instances, you’ve got a role to play as their manager.

 When you have an employee that has done fantastic work or has put in a lot of effort, recognize their work publicly. While it’s true that some people are shy and don’t enjoy the spotlight, even a simple public, positive transaction at the corner watercooler can be enough to boost the team member’s (and the team’s) morale.

 Conversely, nobody wants to receive critiques publicly. So save that type of feedback for private, one-on-one conversations. Ensure your team knows that it’s safe to fail, and when they do, you’ll work together to develop ways they can improve the next time.

 5. Be a macro manager.

 What’s a macro manager? You got it – it’s the opposite of a micromanager. A macro manager takes a more hands-off approach and lets employees do their jobs with minimal direct supervision. In contrast, a micromanager constantly looks over employees’ shoulders and is often perceived as controlling and overly critical.

 Great macro managers are skilled at:

  • Delegating projects and tasks
  • Setting clear expectations, putting up guardrails, and checking-in often
  • Letting go of perfectionism
  • Understanding how each employee prefers to be managed
  • Empowering employees
  • Knowing when to step in and when to step back

6. Find a mentor.

You’re facing new challenges, and many other leaders in your company or industry have been where you are now. That’s why it’s crucial to find a mentor you can turn to for advice or support when issues arise. First, find someone with whom you can confidentially discuss problems openly. Sometimes, you’ll be able to identify and find solutions to difficult situations with the help of your mentor’s own lived experiences.

Not sure how to go about finding a new mentor? Here’s a great article with a few tips!

BONUS TIP: If you don’t know the answer, have a robust response at the ready.

Being open about not knowing the answer to a question is ok. But, simply saying, “I don’t know, I’ll ask my boss,” can cause you to lose credibility in the eyes of your team. 

I love this article from The Muse addressing this very topic. The author recommends having a more powerful response at the ready when you’re not sure of an answer. She suggests options like, “Based on what we know today, my thoughts are…” or “I don’t have the data at hand, but I’ll get it to you later today.”

When you’re a new manager, building relationships, influence and credibility are essential. Working on your robust responses without pretending to know all the answers can help you achieve your goals of being a trusted and knowledgeable resource to your team.

 

Is your team growing? I would love to help! Give me a shoutout connor.duffy@celarity.com to start the conversation. 

Connor Duffy

Connor has been working within the staffing & recruiting industry for 7 years. Connor is currently the Sr Client Experience Manager at Celarity, a marketing recruiting firm with strong local roots in the Minnesota marketing community for over 27 years. In his time, Connor has placed over 100 professionals and works closely with hiring managers looking to build strong teams. He enjoys helping creative leaders realize their visions by adding the right people to their teams and giving them market insights along the way. As an expressive and extroverted person, he loves making real connections with people and is always there to help!

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