Becoming a manager means more than just changing your title. The move is exciting, rewarding and official. From this point forward, you’re no longer the person looking up with questions; instead, you’re the one people look to for answers.
This necessary career step can be challenging, but with a few easy tips it also offers personal and professional growth opportunities for you and your team.
1. Schedule recurring check-in meetings. As your responsibilities grow, your desk can turn into a black hole of emails and deadlines, causing you to tune out your team and sow their resentment. To ensure that you and your employees dedicate meaningful face time to one another and stay aligned on immediate projects, schedule recurring weekly meetings.
Also, set three-month check-ins to delve further into each person’s progress and exchange thoughts about your current work dynamic. Such sessions can be official in-office meetings or casual visits to a coffee shop. The setting matters less than the conversation.
2. Balance work and play. Some people — OK, it’s Michael Corleone from The Godfather — like to say, “It’s not personal; it’s strictly business.” For good managers, it’s both. I can have a sensitive conversation with a team member about their work one day and enjoy drinks at happy hour with them the next, while still maintaining a healthy work relationship. It wasn’t always like that, however; I had to crawl before I could walk in my new role as manager and mentor.
As soon as you become a manager, set a precedent with your team to show that you’ve gone from being a peer to a supervisor and are looking for quality work and respect. Pleasantries and camaraderie don’t fly out the window with this new title, but managers need to be more aware of their tone and actions as they influence the larger team. Your colleagues now look to you to lead, and they’ll benefit far more from a friendly boss than from a boss who is a friend.
3. Make your own management style. A great thing about being a manager is that you are not alone. Before arriving in this role you had managers of your own and learned what works and what does not. Use those experiences to develop your own successful and personal management style.
When I first started with Litzky PR, I learned invaluable lessons from my manager that still resonate today. One thing I learned was that setting a good example is the best way to teach others (listening intently to every client call my manager led taught me how to influence my own conversations with clients). Set the foundation for the type of manager you want to become by making a list of the best lessons your own managers have taught you.
4. Don’t fret every mistake. Managers make mistakes; good ones learn from them. Remember that you’re not perfect, and neither is your team. Both of you will occasionally make bad judgment calls, especially as you continue to grow within the agency and challenge one another. Go easy enough on yourself and others that you can learn from your mistakes, not penalize yourself and your team for them. Do what good managers do best: Identify the issue, address it quickly and move on.
5. Know when to walk away. When a vacation approaches, I always experience mixed feelings of excitement and dread. I look forward to taking a break from the office and relaxing with family and friends, but feel nervous about leaving my team for an extended period of time. Who will answer their questions? Who will keep things on schedule? Who will manage client communications? Your team will.
Temporarily stepping back from a project you lead may seem terrifying, but by doing so you give your employees an opportunity to flourish. As a manager you’ve already provided them with the tools they need to succeed and the confidence to trust their own instincts. More likely than not, they’ll turn any doubts they may have into solutions. To ease these feelings and keep everyone in the loop, my team and I send a summary of projects and next steps both before and after an extended period away from the office. Perhaps best of all, letting your team step forward in your absence also primes them to become leaders themselves.
Marissa Connelly, account supervisor, has been with Litzky Public Relations for nine years, leading accounts ranging from Hasbro’s Star Wars and Marvel brands to NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness, and National Geographic Partners. She has executed successful high-profile events, creative campaigns and media relations. Learn more about LPR at litzkypr.com or visit the agency on Facebook and Instagram.