After reading my MBWA 101 post, a colleague asked me if I had ever compiled a list of tips for new managers. He wanted to provide some concrete recommendations for a new mentee who had recently become a first line manager. Other than my own management philosophy, I’d never written anything down before so I offered to follow up with some thoughts.
I came up with seven tips and added catchy phrases to help remember them:
1. “Hard on the issues, easy on the people”
Avoid trying to assign blame to individuals but rather focus on identifying the root cause of the problem. The error may have been yours for putting the individual in a situation that didn’t match their skills.
2. “Manage by exception”
When things are going well, leave them alone. When a problem occurs, intervene. Monitor outliers to identify anomalies (good and bad) rather than focusing on averages.
3. “People are your most valuable asset”
Employees are the only organizational resource that, with training, can appreciate in value. All other resources depreciate. Invest for the future, not for current needs.
4. “Actions speak louder than words”
Employees will mirror your behavior more quickly than they will follow your words. If you don’t follow the guidelines that you set for others, they are more likely to resent you and circumvent the rules.
5. “Good enough is good enough”
Being perfect all the time is impossible and it’s not worth the investment. Focus on doing a good job and learn from the experience, which will improve your performance the next time.
6. “Reward outcomes, not activities”
Don’t reward people for trying hard if they were working on the wrong things. Make sure reward systems are based on impact (how much change occurred) rather than output (how much was produced).
7. “Mindset matters”
Be optimistic. If you think a project is doomed, it’s not likely to be successful. Smile. Your mood is contagious. Do people feel more or less energized after they talk to you?
These tips are no substitute for management experience but they are good reminders of how we should interact with our direct reports.
Anyone want to add their own tips for new managers?