Whether you’ve been managing your own staff for years or you’ve been promoted recently to a management position, there are a few things that you, and any other manager, need to know that can help you successfully lead your subordinates.
- Set a tone of authority …but don’t come on too strong – Management is all about balance. You need people to listen to you, but there’s also a natural tendency initially to be over-assertive with new-found power. This can be especially dicey when you’re newly elevated to the role and managing former peers. Resentment grows easily in such a fertile climate.
- You can’t be everyone’s friend – This is the other side of the “balance” equation. There’s an equally natural tendency to want to be liked (too much) in this new role. But you can’t be a friend in the same collegial way you used to – at least not if you hope to exert control when you have to and take effective corrective action. Respect, not friendship, is ultimately what’s needed.
- Set clear expectations and objectives for your employees – This is what Ken Blanchard has been preaching to managers for years.* Spend all the time you need working with your employees (and your own management) to be sure they know what is expected of them. Objectives that are clear, agreed upon, and measurable can be a valuable tool for keeping your staff focused on their duties. When conflicts and uncertainties arise, as they most certainly will, it’s great to have carefully thought-out objectives for employees to fall back on.
- Create an environment of open communication, where speaking up is OK – This may sound basic, but as most people who’ve worked for a while can attest, it’s not always the case. Openness breeds trust, and trust breeds engagement, and the tone you set at the outset will be crucial to how your employees relate and respond. Here again, you want balance. It’s not license for chaos – you are the boss. But an environment in which people feel free to speak their minds, and be heard, is generally one they’ll enjoy working in. Plus, it will help foster ideas and innovation.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it – Management is complex and inherently challenging. Everyone has problems. Fortunately, there are many sources to turn to when sticky situations arise: your own manager (ideally), a trusted mentor (find one if you don’t already have one), other veteran managers you respect, or your own Human Resources operation, which often has individuals or departments designed to provide such support. Good managers often are extremely willing to help others who seek their counsel. So, don’t be afraid to reach out.
*The New One Minute Manager Hardcover – May 5, 2015; Ken Blanchard (Author), M.D. Johnson Spencer (Author)