(Last Updated On: 21/03/2017)

1. If you’ve never done it before, it will most likely surprise you how hard it is

But it’s also rewarding. I recently did some analysis with first time managers who had been in the working world for several years in very high-level engineering positions. When asked the question, “What surprised you the most about becoming a new manager?” many replied simply, “People are hard.” Yes. We are complex and layered and don’t come with instruction manuals. Which is why when you stick with it and create those strong and positive working relationships, the benefits can far outweigh the challenges.

2. Everybody gets out of bed in the morning for different reasons

Individuals are unique creatures. What motivates me, may not motivate you. Some are motivated by taking on a challenge. Some want power. Some want to just come in, do a good job, and go home to be with family. Some want to be a technical expert, and some want flexibility. By understanding what makes your people tick, you can line them up with the right kinds of opportunities to keep them engaged.

3. If you begin with the idea that people want to do a good job, you really can’t go wrong

Most of us don’t start new jobs thinking, “Yeah, I’m really gonna phone this in and just slide by.” Remember that feeling of excitement when you start a job? Everything seems possible and everything is fun. What happens? Communication clashes, power struggles, and unbalanced workloads to name a few. So many things can contribute to dissatisfaction in the workplace. But the number one reason people usually quit? They don’t like their manager. Giving your people the benefit of the doubt starts the relationship off on a good foot and establishes an atmosphere of trust – a key ingredient to successful working relationships.

4. Leading by example is key

Your people are watching you. If your words don’t line up with your actions, how can they trust you? Enough said.

5. It’s OK not to know something. And to say that out loud

Let’s be honest. Aren’t most of us trying to figure out this life thing every day? Managing people is a blend of art, science and natural talent. It can take years to hone your skills in this area! It’s ok not to know everything. By admitting you don’t have all the answers, you let your people know it’s ok for them not to know everything too. Starting from that genuine place is where the growth can come.

6. Your communication style may be confusing for some

What’s clear to you may not be clear to someone else. Recognize and appreciate the nuances of different styles. If you prefer communication to be straightforward and direct, but the person you manage needs a little more ‘warm and fuzzy’, that could cause tension. Be aware and talk about your preferences. And ask your people for theirs.

7. Looking for strengths instead of weakness will yield better results

Managers in today’s workplace are conditioned to look for ‘areas of development’. And those are important, yes. But how about focusing on areas of strength instead? It feels good to be acknowledged for what we do well. Research shows that time invested in an area where there is already natural talent leads to exponentially better results. And happier people.

8. Listening helps people focus

We are all whole human beings, who have to deal with challenges both in and out of the office every day. As a manager, people will come to you with these life challenges. Perhaps it’s a sick child or dog that needs surgery. Leaving your personal life at the door is a nice idea, but it’s not reality. Listen to your people. Ask questions and value their personal life. When people feel heard, it makes it easier to focus on the task at hand.

9. Being consistent creates open communication

People work well when they know what to expect. If, as a manager, your moods change faster than the weather, it will be hard for your folks to approach you. And if what you ultimately want is a line of open communication with your team, being consistent will go a long way towards making this happen.

And finally…

10. Saying ‘thank you’ goes a long way

Recognition doesn’t always need to be in the form of a paycheck. A simple thank you can go a long way in creating feelings of engagement and satisfaction. Don’t we all want to be seen and valued for what we do?

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Erika is a career development professional with over 15 years of experience in both corporate and higher education settings. Her current role is Assistant Director of Career Education at a private university in Chicago, Illinois. She also works with individuals on strengths discovery, interviewing skills and networking. She can be reached at careerplayground (at) gmail.com

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