Five Tips for New Managers

You took on extra assignments, dazzled your boss with your innovative thinking, and went above and beyond to make your mark at work. Your reward? A well-deserved promotion.

While transitioning from team member to leader is certainly something to commemorate, it’s also something to prepare for. After you finish that celebratory toast, it’s time to get to work. Here are five tips to help you pave your way as you shift gears into your management role.

1. Act like the boss.

When you’re promoted within your organization, there is the potential for awkwardness at best and conflict at worse. After all, there’s a chance you were competing against some of your colleagues for the position, who may be disappointed at the outcome. There’s also a chance you’ll now be managing your friends—or even your rivals.

You must act quickly to establish yourself as the leader of your team, despite the fact that it will take time to figure out your new role. “Even if you’re not feeling this way just yet, it’s important to project confidence with your employees so they know they are in good hands,” says UMUC Assistant Vice President of Career Development Francine Blume.

You also need to establish clear boundaries, especially if you have friends from work who now report to you. As the manager, you need to be viewed as fair and impartial by your team members, or else you could seen as playing favorites or acting unprofessionally.

2. Find a support system to prepare yourself for success.

No one succeeds in a vacuum. When you’re promoted to a manager role, you need to develop a whole new skill set so you can lead your team successfully. Don’t get overwhelmed, though, because help is within reach.

If you work for a large organization, there’s a good chance there is already a leadership training program in place to help those who are newly promoted. After all, it’s in your employer’s best interest to prepare you to succeed in your role. “Reach out to your human resources team for leadership development opportunities to help you thrive as a manager,” says Blume.

If you don’t already have a mentor, now is the time to find a seasoned leader you can learn from as you begin to navigate what it means to be a manager. Professional associations are another great source of support and may offer continuing education opportunities through conferences, seminars or webinars. You can find inspiration through books and podcasts, as well.

Of course, you can also study other leaders and how they manage their teams. “Take advantage of what already exists to help you in your new role,” stresses Blume.

3. Figure out what your leadership style is – and what your team’s style is.

New and experienced leaders alike can benefit from taking a leadership assessment. This is simply a tool designed to help leaders identify where their strengths lie and where there is room to further develop the skills they need to lead. Many kinds of leadership style assessments can be found online.

“Taking a leadership assessment really is about self-awareness,” says Blume. “If you are open to learning from it, a leadership assessment can be an invaluable tool that can help you become a strong leader.”

While you’re at it, you can have your team members take their own skills assessments. The results can help ensure you are using your employees to their full potential and providing them with the support they need to grow in their careers.

4. Create a shared vision for your team.

Your team needs something to rally behind. It’s up to you to clearly share your vision and goals in a way that inspires them to work hard for the common good.

“Make sure your team clearly understands what your department is doing, why you’re doing it and how—together—you are contributing to the overall goals of the organization,” says Blume. “You can develop an elevator speech to get your message across simply and succinctly, both to your team members and to other departments in your organization.”

5. Establish your team communications strategy.

Communication is the foundation of any well-functioning relationship, at work as much as in your personal life. As you take the helm of your new team, be sure to map out how you are going to communicate with your direct reports. Schedule regular team meetings, one-on-one touch-bases, quarterly retreats or any other formal time you need to stay in-the-know and on track to reach your goals.  

“This is also a great time to establish how you want your employees to come to you with questions, concerns or ideas,” notes Blume. “Whether you have an open-door policy or prefer that your team members schedule time on your calendar when they want to talk, you need to let them know.”

Following these tips will help prepare you for a smooth transition to your new leadership role so you can focus on what’s important: success.

For more assistance, contact your UMUC Career Services Office at 240-684-2720 or careerservices@umuc.edu.