There’s a huge difference between mastering a specific task and managing employees. Supervision requires a different skill set that, for many rookie managers, doesn’t come as easy as doing the work.
The good news: Managing is a skill that can be learned. Here are 10 tips to help new managers transition into their roles.
Create a game plan
Remember, you’re walking into an existing dynamic. So before making changes, take these steps:
1. Identify the key players. Who are the decision-makers? Who has influence over the decision-makers? Who do employees turn to for information? Who are the people most likely to help you?
2. Assess the situation. What’s working? What’s not working? Observe what is going on, and listen to what employees are saying.
3. Assess your staff. Do their job duties match their job descriptions? What are the strengths of each? The weaknesses? Are poor performers being counseled? Are top performers being challenged?
4. Identify resources and roadblocks. What tools are currently at your disposal? What tools might you be able to secure? What challenges might you face (e.g., limited budget, staff deficiencies)?
5. Establish a plan. What are your short- and long-term goals? What must be achieved by when? What tasks must you perform yourself, and which ones can be delegated? How can you eliminate obstacles? If obstacles can’t be eliminated, how can you work around them?
Avoid the common mistakes
There are going to be some bumps in the road. But you can smooth them over by keeping your eyes peeled for these new-manager potholes:
6. Be aware of employment law risks. Supervisors are held to a much higher standard than employees. Avoid asking inappropriate hiring questions—or making pay or promoting decisions—based on a person’s age, sex, pregnancy, race, religion, disability or family responsibilities. Know when to report situations to HR, including medical leave requests and complaints of discrimination or harassment.
7. Administer discipline consistently. Disciplining employees shouldn’t be a trial-and-error process of too harsh or too easy before finding discipline that is just right. Inconsistent discipline will hurt morale and could trigger discrimination claims.
8. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Managers are tasked with getting work done through others, not doing everything themselves. Delegate tasks to employees based on their strengths.
9. Avoid over-supervising. Don’t hover or micromanage. Tell employees what needs to get done and by when. Then let them do it. Remind them that your door is always open for their questions, but trust in their abilities.
10. Give credit where credit is due. Your success depends on the success of your staff. So make a conscious effort to recognize workers and department contributions both publicly and privately.
How to supervise friends
One of the hardest parts of transitioning from employee to manager is supervising your friends. Here are four ways to ease the awkwardness and maintain productivity (and friendships):
1. Acknowledge the awkwardness and verbalize the new dynamic. For instance, say: “Now that I’m a supervisor, I’m going to miss our weekly gossip sessions” and “It’s going to be weird to evaluate your performance.” Hearing these words will help to reinforce the new relationship.
2. Set boundaries. You don’t have to stop being friends with people you manage, but you do have to create professional distance. Don’t share confidential information, make snarky comments about company policies or discuss the performance of other employees.
3. Watch your words. You’re used to being one of the crowd and may forget the power of your words when spoken as a manager. React professionally, not emotionally. When you feel your emotions getting the best of you, take a minute to collect yourself before speaking.
4. Don’t play favorites. It’s natural to feel more favorable toward those employees with whom you are friends, but a casual observer should not be able to detect these feelings.
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