The path to a corner office looks different for every manager. Maybe your technical expertise ushered you into a new world of managing people, not just projects. Or perhaps you’ve always been on the management track and are now managing more people. Or maybe you were thrust into the role as part of a reorganization.
Although the path to management varies, the initial transition can be filled with uncertainties as you shift from managing your own work to shepherding a flock of people. At GovLoop’s 2019 NextGen Government Training Summit attendees heard from experts on how new (and existing) managers can better empower their employees, delegate tasks and improve accountability. The session, “You’re a Manager, Now What?”, focused on key tools to make management less about you and more about the people you are serving.
Michael Lawyer, Special Assistance to the Chief Human Capital Officer at the Housing and Urban Development Department, and Maria DeFazio, Executive Director of the Presidential Management Alumni Association, tag-teamed on the presentation and shared the following nuggets of wisdom to help managers become better leaders.
Take risks, grow and empower others to do the same thing. That is your role as a manager. In the end, it is not about you. Make it a point of duty to publicly thank people for the work they do, particularly the work they enjoy doing the most.
Be excellent at the thing that you do. That thing, which is also your main responsibility, should be the caring and feeding of your people. As a new manager, focus on solidifying relationships with your team. Do it and do it well!
Recognize that your strengths are not about you. When you lean into your strengths as a way to make you feel better, you’re doing it wrong. When your strengths are used correctly, it feels right and those around you are empowered to tap into their strengths as well.
Use check-ins well. That involves knowing the difference between management and growth check-ins. Take a look at the “Use Check-Ins Well” chart and notice that both end with the employee’s plan.
Embigggen your team. The definition of embiggen is literally to make bigger or more expansive. Consider what you are doing to make your team better and successful? Success as a manager is about how much better your team does because you’re leading them versus if someone else managed them. It also means giving them credit and putting their names on the work products.
Make your bliss station. This means finding time in your day as a manager to reconnect with the things that brought you to your job/career. This will help your empathy and much more.
When you get thrown under the bus, for example, your bliss station will sustain you and enable you to address stress. To make your bliss station:
- Go to a place (a corner of your office, a place in your home).
- Put your phone on airplane mode (no emails, texts or calls).
- Set a five-minute timer and connect with yourself and why you’re there to do the work that day. Do NOT take your phone off airplane mode. This is not a one-time exercise. Make visits to your bliss station often. When challenging situations arise, you can quickly flashback to the thoughts you’ve meditated on at your bliss station.
Being a new manager is rewarding, challenging and at times stressful. There will be times you question whether you’re doing enough, adequately supporting your team or if you have the stamina to lead. Use these tips as a starting point to help you chart your path and invest in others while investing in yourself.
If you’re a new manager or have tips to share with other managers, please share in the comments section below.