25 lessons for new managers

  1. Being a leader is hard for everyone, no matter how successful they appear on the outside.
  2. You will learn just as much from the people who work for you as you have learned from the people you have worked for. Probably more, honestly.
  3. Create an environment where people can love their work and one another.
  4. Learn as much as you teach. Work smarter, not harder. Shadow your employees. Learn about what they do, obstacles they over come, what a day in their life (at work) is really like. Then, dissect those processes and procedures. Find ways to streamline processes & build in efficiencies. Don’t get stuck in the “that’s the way it’s always been” mantra. Why? Why has it been that way? What makes that work so well? What part of it doesn’t work so well? How can you make your employees job easier? Make a customer’s experience better? Dive into the technology your employer offers. You might find resources already available that just haven’t been tapped into yet. Spend the time to learn about them. You may find implementing some of them can be a game changer. Automate as many reports as you can. Your time is valuable, use it wisely.
  5. Ignoring a problem with an employee-only removes the incentive for he/she to try harder and lulls them into thinking they will be fine. Here’s an excerpt from Radical Candor that explains it well – “There’s a Russian anecdote about a guy who has to amputate his dog’s tail but loves him so much that he cuts it off an inch each day, rather than all at once. His desire to spare the dog pain and suffering only leads to more pain and suffering. Don’t allow yourself to become that kind of boss!”
  6. You need a balance of different types of employees. You need your superstars, the ones who are on a steep growth trajectory & will probably go crazy if they’re doing the same job for very long. But you also need your rockstars, the ones who love their work and can be awesome at it, but they are happy with where they are. They aren’t eager to move into another role or climb the corporate ladder. You need the employees who can do their job well without the desire to move into another role immediately. AfterAll, there’s only so many available opportunities for promotions.
  7. When managing managers – the relationship you have with them will impact the relationships they have with their direct reports. The ripple effect can create or destroy a culture.
  8. The most important feedback you will receive will come from those you supervise. Encourage them to tell you when you are wrong. In the book “Radical Candor” they talk a lot about “speaking truth to power” and even talk about experimenting with “manager fix it weeks” and “carefully designed manager feedback sessions”.
  9. Being receptive to feedback is just as important as being able to provide feedback. “Don’t dish it out before you can show you can take it.”
  10. Challenge people. Hold high standards. Sure, some people are going to get upset with you, but that’s okay. Set the bar high because you care.
  11. Employees may never repay you for being a “good boss”, but they are likely to pay it forward.
  12. One of the most important lessons I have learned, and I thought Radical Candor did an excellent job explaining this was to truly care about your team members. When they want to talk to you, even when it has nothing to do with work, give them your undivided attention. Stop what you’re doing, stop typing. Face them, actively listen to what they have to say. And when those “Oh my gosh, I am never going to get any “real” work done” feelings start to take over – remember, relationships drive us forward. Management is about giving a damn. It’s about showing more than just your “work self” & encouraging those who report to us to do the same.
  13. Don’t get lost in failures. Celebrate successes too. Even the small victories. Celebrate them. They matter. They are important. It’s easy to focus on what we could have done better. But it is important to focus on what we did well too!
  14. “It’s not mean! It’s clear! Has become a management mantra”. I absolutely loved this lesson in Radical Candor (are you starting to see a theme here? Get the book. It’s a game-changer, I promise. ;)). “It’s impossible to exaggerate how much I adored–and depended on–that little fluff of reddish fur. And there’s nothing like emotional bondage to create the conditions for Ruinous Empathy. I never said a crossword to Belvedere, and she was absolutely untrained and undisciplined. As I was standing there, she tugged at the leash and almost wound up under the tires of a taxi roaring by. I pulled her back at the last moment, head over heels. A stranger also waiting to cross, looked over at me and said “I can see you really love your dog. ” Next, he gave me a really direct challenge. “But that dog will die if you don’t teach her to sit!” Direct, almost breathtakingly so. Then, without asking for permission, the man bent down to Belvy, pointed his finger at the sidewalk, and said with a loud firm voice “SIT!”. She sat. I gaped in amazement. He smiled and explained, “It’s not mean. It’s clear!”
  15. It’s rarely (if ever, really…) appropriate to criticize an employee in public, rather than in private. Be respectful. Just goes back to what we taught as kids – treat others as you want to be treated. If you do have to coach an employee – document, document, document! I can’t stress this enough. Even if it’s just a simple narrative of the conversation kept in their file, do it. It’s worth your time, I promise.
  16. Be as specific with the details of praise as you would be with criticism. The who, what, how, etc. Details matter. It’s just as important to let people know what to do more of as it is to let them know what to do less of. Don’t be the boss who operates under the “If you don’t hear from me, it means you’re doing fine” mentality.
  17. It’s okay to sit in silence. Sometimes during difficult conversations with employees, sales conversations with customers, or even interviews – there will be an uncomfortable silence. Be okay with that. This was one of the hardest lessons I have had to learn because it was in my nature to just start talking again to fill the silence. I had to learn to wait and almost “force” the person I was communicating with, to answer the question/ engage in the conversation. Sometimes I even count in my head to 5 before speaking again.
  18. Set clearly defined expectations. Come up with specific goals that be tracked and measured. One way to do this is to create Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). This is a great way to motivate individuals as well as encourage teamwork.
  19. Don’t take credit for someone’s ideas or efforts. Give credit where credit is due.
  20. Advocate for your team. Sometimes with your own boss, fellow managers, departments, customers, employees, etc. It is important to do your search and advocate for your team. Speak up, acknowledge their accomplishments and achievements to their superiors and defend and protect them.
  21. Make decisions based on facts, not emotions.
  22. Use “we” instead of “me” whenever possible. It takes a village.
  23. Learn to delegate. First of all, no one person can do it all. It just isn’t possible. Second, you empower team members when you trust them to do great work. Sure, inspect what you expect. But your time should be spent helping people do the best work possible by managing & coaching them…not by doing their work for them.
  24. Lead by example. Set a good example and follow the same expectations you set for members of your team.
  25. Over-communicate. I am known for this. I also know, some people would completely disagree with this advice. However, I will always support over-communication rather than lack of communication. Lack of communication is one of top pet peeves. Being on the same page and sharing information frequently and consistently is crucial to ensure a productive and successful relationship.

There are so many articles, podcasts, webinars, and books about management. I highly suggest taking the time to check them out. As mentioned above, I highly recommend Radical Candor.

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