If you are new to management, stepping into the role for the first time can be overwhelming. Here are some tips to help navigate through the transition if you are new to this type of role.
Establish or Learn What Your Leadership Style Is
Before settling in at the new office, be sure to spend some time and reflection on what exactly your leadership style is. This will be an important part of early introductory conversations with staff. They should know what to expect from you and understand what expectations you have from them. If your background in delegation or effective leadership is lacking there are numerous resources on the topic to explore. In addition, you may need to brush up on how to manage multigenerational teams.
Get to Know Your Staff
Whether you’ve been promoted from within or hired as an outsider, you will have to establish relationships with your new staff. Each situation provides its own set of issues.
If moving up within an organization, you may have to reconfigure some relationships with past coworkers. Establishing some new boundaries can help. Maybe it is heading out for the after work social hour a little less. In addition, you could be dealing with some resentment from a coworker who had also applied for the job. If this is your situation, it is best to have an early conversation to alleviate any potential awkwardness as soon as possible.
There are techniques available for you to help set up your team for success. Ensuring that staff feel appreciated can go a long way when dealing with transitional issues and beyond.
Get to Know Your New Supervisor and other Colleagues
Chances are, that if you are new to management you will still report to a supervisor of some kind. Just like it is important to get to know your staff and your own leadership style, it is also important to understand how your supervisor functions. Hopefully, there will be some indication of their leadership or management style before you accept the position. If not, however, the sooner you understand your supervisor’s perspective, the sooner you can adjust your communication style. More than one conversation may be necessary in order to establish what works best for the both of you.
Another way that you can help ease a transition into a new management role is to gain a solid understanding of who your colleagues are and what they do. This also provides an opportunity for you to meet everyone and let them know what you hope to learn and accomplish in your new role. We operate in fields that are ever growing in their interdisciplinary nature. However, we are not experts at everything; nor is there time to be. Your colleagues can be your biggest supporters or be able to provide you with valuable information for your next project. But they can’t do that if they don’t know who you are and what your priorities and intentions are.
Understand Your Organization’s Structure
As a first-time manager, you may be entering the world of middle management; a dreaded word for most. You may be managing people and processes with limited authority. On the other hand, you may have the opportunity to develop or change policy, function with relative anonymity or have to participate in press briefings. First-time managers roles vary widely depending on an organization’s structure. Ensure that you work toward a solid understanding of who does what for which purpose.
The ability to tap into available resources throughout your organization, it’s history and other partners can be invaluable. If you have relocated to your new management position there are likely tens of organizations outside of your governmental group that you will be working with. Be sure to ask questions to your colleagues regarding who you should contact. Personal visits to introduce yourself within and outside of your parent organization are most impactful. If those opportunities are not available, pick up the phone. Email is a wonderful tool but has limited impact when first establishing a relationship.
More information about common myths of leadership can be found here.
Amy Kay is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. She has worked in municipal stormwater management for 10 years and has served as the Clean Water Manager with the City of Davenport since 2016. Here, she directs the resource conservation and watershed management programs along with activities of the Clean Water Program in compliance with NPDES and MS4 permits. You can read her posts here.