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3 Focus Strategies For First Time Managers

By Emilie Shoop (1136 words)
Posted in Management on July 11, 2013

There are (2) comments permalink

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By Emilie Shoop, Creator and Leader of Shoop Training & Consulting

Sometimes the first opportunity someone gets to step in a supervisor or management role is with a new organization.  Based on your past experiences, you now have been hired to take on a new role with new people.  How do you fit in and begin to lead at the same time?


Any time an individual starts at a new company, there is a learning curve.  What is the culture all about? How do they handle this or that? What is the appropriate reaction to this? And so on. 


As the new kid on the block, there is also the desire to fit in socially as well.  What are the norms with sharing personal lives and interests?  Who goes to lunch together?  What do I have in common with others?


Now throw in trying to figure out how you fit into the puzzle and being in a leadership role.  That is two challenges in one!  People are trying to get to know you as a person and as their new leader.  You are trying to do the same. 


It kind of reminds me of when there is a substitute teacher for the first time.  The class has been working together all school year under the direction of their teacher.  There are classroom and school-wide rules that all the students are aware of.  Along comes the substitute teacher who is in charge for the day or week.  Now the substitute has to learn the norms, the people, and teach while there.  In the office, it is very similar, except you are working with adults and there is no recess.


In order to establish your role as the leader during the hectic and delicate time of forming relationships and learning about the organization, there are three things you can focus on:  Authority, Proficiency, and Expectations.


3 Focus Strategies For First Time Managers



Work to establish your authority right off the bat.  One mistake I often see people make is assuming that since they have the title, everyone should “just do what I say.”  It does not work like that.  The other mistake I see being made is letting others undermine their authority because they are new.


To establish your authority, focus on being the messenger as much as possible.  If you are learning from upper management, you relay that information to your team, instead of letting upper management do it.  Take ownership of that role, otherwise it can seem as if you are another peer to the team.


The same goes for when you learn something from a team member.  Be the messenger yourself, instead of letting that team member do it for you.  It gives you the opportunity to show your ability, understanding, and confidence.



Focus on how quickly you can get up to speed on the work that your role entails.  What work are you responsible for making sure is completed and by when?  What are the goals that have been set for your team that you need to ensure are met?  Figure out how you make the widgets.


The faster you understand the work being done, the easier it is to lead your team.  If it takes you a long time to learn the work, you might find yourself actually doing the work or slowing the team down.  This will not help establish you as their leader.  Remember that it is your job to enable your team to get the work done, and to help out as much as possible.  Step back and evaluate at what level you really need to understand each and every detail of the process.  It’s probably a lot less than you originally may think.



As the new kid, many of your team members may be leery of trusting you, jealous of your position, unsure of your intentions, and not sure what they should be doing while you get up to speed.  Set clear expectations with each and every team member as often as you can to help put them at ease.


For example, you may expect someone to educate you on what they are working on and mention any mistakes being made that you wouldn’t otherwise be aware of.  Then, as your proficiency increases, adjust the expectations accordingly and relay that to each of the team members.  If you are in a bunch of training as you get up to speed, you may expect the team lead to step up and get certain tasks completed while you are gone.  Be sure to set that expectation, and to ensure they understand the longevity of the expectation (i.e. will they need to be responsible for that forever, or just while you are gone).


Establishing your authority, becoming proficient quickly, and setting clear expectations on a regular basis will help you not only fit in as a leader, but as a new kid on the block in your new organization.  Good luck!


{#/pub/images/20120913174147_DSC_14831small.jpg}Written by Emilie Shoop, Creator and Leader of Shoop Training & Consulting A sought after Coach, Mompreneur, Strategist, Mentor, Speaker, Author, Trainer & Business Consultant, Emilie works with people who are ready for that next level of success, and realize how they work with people is KEY.  Her coaching will help you lead, delegate, sell, collaborate, perform, influence, and relate with people to launch your success to the next level. She provides clients, teams and organizations the skills and tools for leadership and professional excellence.

Do you have a management question for Emilie?  Post it in our First Time Manager/Supervisor Community and she will be happy to help: Ask an Expert


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Comments (2)

Hugh Sutherland posted on: July 13, 2013

Hi Emilie, great thread, which I am sure many first timers will save themselves a lot of heart ache if they take your points seriously. However,I would like to add one or two more points for which I paid very high "school fees" to learn from painful experiences. The first is: identify the informal team leader early in the new job. Yes, there is certainly one in your group! Two, be prepared to be "informally" challenged by this person. Three, encourage this person to disclose to you why your predecessor moved out! Four, don't be shy to use this person to influence the team in your favor, go so far as to prepare them to take over your post when you move up

mark allen roberts posted on: July 15, 2013

Thanks for this article,
In my recent blog post: http://www.nosmokeandmirrors.com/2013/07/14/what-you-should-do-if-you-report-to-a-post-turtle-sales-manager/ I have a list of blogs, you tubes and books for new managers. I hope this helps new managers hit the ground and adding value quickly.

Mark Allen Roberts

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