After the excitement of a new promotion settles, a new leader must start the transition from being an individual contributor to leading a team. When you become a leader, you must change your mindset to work through others instead of doing everything yourself. To avoid burnout or leader failure, new managers must learn to lead in a way that increases team productivity, fosters a positive work culture, better leverages the skills of your team, holds employees accountable, and maintains work/life balance for everyone (including yourself!).
Here are five tips to hit the ground running as a new leader:
1. Give regular feedback.
Let your employees know where they stand. Keep everyone up to date, set and communicate realistic goals/expectations, and give feedback in real-time to build trust and confidence from your team members. Also, don't hesitate to ask for feedback from your team when you need it.
2. Support and develop your team.
People gravitate to those who help them develop and succeed. If your goal is to make your employees successful by developing them, they will trust and respect you. Make sure in your one-on-one meetings with team members, you find out what motivates them and what they need to develop. This should be part of almost every discussion with them in addition to more task focused discussions.
3. Communicate overall business vision and goals to your team.
Do your goals motivate and engage your employees? Communicate how your employees' contributions influence the overall business goals. When you delegate work to your team, try not to put too much of an emphasis on tasks. Share these goals, then guide your team to execute tasks that will help contribute to accomplishing them. This puts meaning behind employees' work, which increases their feeling of worth, job satisfaction, and engagement.
4. Recognize that each employee has different work styles and personalities.
It's certainly important to be fair and consistent, but that doesn’t mean you should lead everyone in exactly the same way. Be flexible and adjust your style to different personalities. One employee may need more of your time and guidance, while another may respond better to less frequent but more succinct feedback.
5. Be decisive!
Employees get easily frustrated if there is no direction or decisiveness in their managers and leaders. Make decisions, set a vision, and help your employees execute that vision. When managers procrastinate on decisions it can lead to a number of negative outcomes. Your team may lose confidence in your abilities and may reduce productivity if they need the direction in order to move projects forward.
First-time managers are in a unique position. It is OK if you don’t have all the answers. Sometimes getting the input from other managers, executives, or your team can be the best thing for a situation. Remember that you are learning too, so it is OK if you need support. Mentors and coaches can be great resources. Keep in mind, though, that the mentor’s role is not to tell you what to do. Just copying their behavior is not the goal. Getting their input/advice and then putting your own spin on it will help you to develop your own leadership style.