I have been having a full time job for two years already, and I have been quite lucky in already having the opportunity to start managing other people. For over half a year now, I have been managing my team which consists of two people besides myself; an intern which has eventually become a full time member of my team and also another full time employee.
Since my role remains highly operational as well, I find it challenging to juggle between doing an outstanding job, guiding other people to do an outstanding job and be a good manager. On top of that, my team is also slightly older than me and while it has not been an issue almost at all, sometimes I do feel a little bit of resentment, at least from one side. While I am a high performer by nature, managing other people did not come as easy as I thought. I have spent a lot of time reading online articles like HBR’s, the HBR Manager’s Book and many other articles and while I have gathered a few ideas, this is something that continues being a struggle for me, and where I most want to improve.
So, if you like me are a first time manager, below are some thoughts that I have put together with regards to managing people.
1. If you know that your team is expanding, always be part of the interview process – this is something that most companies already do, at a later stage in the interview there is always a short interview with the future team lead or a team member. If you have the chance to interview potential candidates, make sure you do it and don’t send others for you. Make room in your schedule otherwise you might regret it later.
2. Overcoming trust issue – if you are anything like me, you will have trust issues towards your team members, at least until the moment you are 100% happy with them (which does not mean it will be a permanent state). But there will come a moment when things click and you will realise that you trust that person, despite both you and them sometimes still making mistakes.
3. Define clear expectations – by which I mean communicate. Make sure you talk to your team and you are transparent and explicit about what you want and how you like to work. Sometimes you might feel like some things are self explanatory but trust me either they aren’t or they are certainly not clear for everybody. The golden rule is to communicate, communicate and communicate again.
4. Identify the improvement areas and give feedback – unless your team is full of rockstars or with a similar personality to yours, you will also have a hard time adjusting to their input, and them to your expectations. The first step is to communicate clearly but also to give (and ask for) feedback as often as possible. The best approach is to give feedback on the spot if possible – make sure you are being sensible about it and that you are not doing it in front of other colleagues – or gather a few points and talk to them separately when you get the chance.
5. Guide them but let them fly alone – you will want your team to be able to independently solve problems, so it is imperative that if they are new to the job or to the workforce, you teach them how to look for answers without having to come to you for every single problem. Make yourself available for situations where your input is necessary or clearly define the situations where you want to be involved. Give them the tools and allow them to be self learners so that they grow into strong, independent problem solvers.
6. Last but not least, mentor and teach them – and this is something that I struggle so much with as it requires your time. As a solo high performer, I have always been the type of person that learns by themselves and while I am applying the previous tip of trying to build independent problem solvers, I start realising that it is not enough, and that I need to put more effort and energy into showing them how to use the tools that they have and how to make best of it, because in the end I consider that the ultimate role of a manager is to help other people improve and realise their potential.