How to Manage a Team Effectively as a New Manager

Whether you are new as a manager or entering a new role and inheriting a team, you want to strategize your plan for success. Learning how to manage a team effectively as a new manager isn’t about jumping in and hoping you get the same luck as before. This is a new group of people with new expectations and work styles. Therefore, you’ll need to adapt to flourish as a new manager. This isn’t difficult if you’re willing to do a little pre-planning before your first day.

While there is a breadth of knowledge, skillsets, and expectations required for all successful managers, don’t get overwhelmed or let your inner critic get in your way. Remember, you were selected for this role because others have faith in you. Now, you need to show how you can manage a team effectively as a new leader. Take a deep breath and start with the basics then build from there. In time, your expertise and achievements will grow exponentially.

To help you get started, here are a few tips on how you can manage a team effectively as a new manager.

1. Know the Distinctions

Management and leadership are two different roles. Simply put, a manager oversees operations, projects, and people while a leader drives a vision. Many times, people in a supervisory capacity confuse the terms and focus on the areas where they are most comfortable. Unfortunately, this can lead to disengagement and frustration within your team.

Having a very task-oriented manager is ideal for driving teams toward goals and keeping processes and projects moving forward. But leadership involves a deeply human element, understanding how your team members work best, and creating a culture and environment that invites them to achieve great results.

So, should you focus on management or leadership? Honestly, you should strive to be successful at both—and you can. Learning how to manage a team effectively as a new manager requires your setting them up for success as well as inspiring them to follow your lead.

2. Set Yourself Up for Success

Prior to adopting a new team, you want to set yourself up for success. Create a plan for sharing and demonstrating your leadership style, team expectations, and work approach. While your leadership style needs to adapt to circumstances and team interactions, you’ll want to be consistent with your natural style so team members can adapt accordingly.

Additionally, you’ll want to make clear from the very beginning your expectations and work style. How often will you hold meetings? Do you have an open-door policy, preferred frequency, and channels of communication, the cadence of reports, and one-on-ones? These important elements of expectations and work styles should be established from the get-go.

Getting organized and sharing how you all can work best together not only sets you up for success but also creates transparency, which is required for team members to feel at ease with you as their manager. And laying out your success plan—with the shared expectation that you may need to pivot—increases trust and productivity.

3. Provide Your Team With a Vision

If you don’t know where you are heading, it’s difficult to get on board that train. Having a vision is the key to productivity and consensus. You’ll need a north star to direct how your team’s efforts contribute to the overall goal of the organization and positively impact the bottom line. While you have governance of your vision, a team that’s contributed to designing a collective north star has more skin in the game.

Start off on the right foot by hosting a collaborative brainstorming session to crystalize your vision. It’s a wonderful way to get everyone involved from the start and give you a chance to see their personalities and preferences in action. Once a vision has been realized, agree that it will be used to align direction and measure productivity and performance.

When team members have a say in the vision and how it needs to be realized, they are more likely to accept responsibility and take constructive feedback. Remember, they’re now vested in both your success and theirs. So, by being involved in designing the vision, they have also outlined the standards against which they will be measured. This makes things a lot easier for decision-making, budgeting, and evaluations.

4. Don’t Be Afraid of Making Difficult Decisions

The team that you inherit may not be working or a good fit for your management style. This may require you to make difficult decisions, like demotions, transfers, or terminations of team members. But before you do, spend time getting to know them, understanding their strengths, and reviewing their performance to date. It’s only fair that you give them a chance to adjust to you as their manager and prove their ability to step up and contribute. If they can’t, you may need to put them on a PIP (performance improvement plan) or let them go.

One thing you should never do is avoid having difficult conversations. If you know someone isn’t going to be a good fit or their performance or behavioral style is disrupting productivity, let them know. Making a difficult decision early on will not only reinforce your intent to prioritize productivity but will also improve the well-being and productivity of your team.

5. Leverage Everyone’s Strengths

Once you get to know your team or have built one to your satisfaction, leverage their strengths to the fullest. Knowing how to manage a team effectively as a new manager requires getting them engaged and enthused about their work. And when they can contribute and use their strengths daily, you’re setting everyone up for success.

Conversely, forcing people to turn weaknesses into strengths is a huge mistake and waste of time. It will ultimately lead to frustration, disengagement, and most likely attrition. But when you tap into their innate abilities, you’ll see them shine. Their employed talent will translate into amazing results for everyone involved.

While you don’t have the luxury of doing everything that you love all day long, you should find most of your day spent leveraging your strengths. The same should be true for your team.

6. Be Available to Listen

I once worked for a manager who was always available to spend time with me when I’d asked. The problem was, she never listened. So, even the time we had together—which I hoped would be incredibly valuable—was time wasted. She had an agenda, and I could always tell that she was consumed with thinking about her plans versus my words.

Remember, it’s not always easy to come to one’s supervisor with a problem and ask for advice. For many, this is a sign of weakness. But the truth is, it’s a sign of strength. So, applaud their courage and be truly present to listen to their opinions, ideas, and concerns.

If your team member comes to you with a problem, keep an open mind. Yes, you have a plan and an agenda of where you are going as a unit, but their concerns and ideas are incredibly valuable and may be the linchpin in changing outcomes and directions for the better.

7. Build Trust Through Open Communication

When you first meet your team, share your enthusiasm and your background. Give each member a chance to share theirs in kind. Building trust is critical to evolving your team into a cohesive unite that works well together and respects one another.

In the process of changing management, success requires trust, transparency, and communication to adapt and thrive. Put yourself into their shoes, and consider how this change is affecting them. What can you do to make this process smoother and build their trust? How to manage a team effectively as a new manager? How can you bring out their best?

Sometimes, asking these questions can get you the answers you need for success.

8. Develop Your Management Skills

Coordinating, organizing, planning, prioritizing, and delegating are just a few ways how you can manage a team effectively as a new manager.[1] But these are concrete easy-to-measure skills that are also fairly easy to learn and implement. The best managers know that developing and honing their interpersonal and behavioral skills enables long-lasting success in themselves and their team, especially when modeled appropriately, and helps your team members with their professional development.

Talking openly about what is expected when it comes to emotional and cultural intelligence and learning how to proactively handle conflict and crisis is a great place to start. But you must also walk the walk. Help your team see that you prioritize personal and professional development by setting the bar high for yourself.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how you can manage a team effectively as a new manager is somewhat subjective, but it isn’t rocket science. Still, your role as a manager needs to be taken seriously.

Too many managers rest on their laurels, ignore warning signs, resent transparency, and avoid leadership altogether. Don’t fall into that trap. Instead, commit to action, and commit to your personal success. You will be effective and successful if you start with a plan and include your team in developing a vision and shared expectations.

Once you have established these, you can then go about the process of designing your blueprint for reaching that vision, assigning goals to those with related strengths, and developing and implementing a strategy for ongoing personal and professional development. Great managers know the importance of honing their managerial skillset while simultaneously developing their leadership presence.

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