At the end of my last post I mentioned that I would create a basic action plan that you can follow if you’re a new manager. If you’re a veteran manager reading this, I’m sure my audience would benefit from your tips and tricks too so feel free to reach out to me on Twitter, LinkedIn or FaceBook with your thoughts. I’ll work my favorites into additional bullet points on this post going forward.
To help you keep things organized, I’ve broken down your first year as a manager into a 4 quarter framework. Have a look!
- Learn everything you can about the individuals on your team. Identify their strengths and weaknesses but pay attention to their likes and dislikes too. This will ultimately help you in your ongoing engagement as their supervisor.
- Assess what you want to change about the team, and what needs to remain in place. Remember, chemistry plays a big role in team production but everyone still needs to meet some basic expectations.
- Identify any communication issues that may exist between your team and other teams/departments that they interface with regularly and ask your team to come up with ways to improve from their end and share them with you and the manager of that other team/department. This works even better if the other manager does the same thing with their team/you.
- Have a 1 on 1 conversation with each member of the team, ask them what they need in terms of tools, training, or collateral – from you, or the organization, to help them hit their professional goals.
- Locate a mentor – someone you trust, either internal or external, who can serve as a resource when you’ve got questions on things like conflict resolution or other management pain points you’re likely to encounter. If you’re having trouble pinning down one particular person, there are industry groups and LinkedIn groups etc that can fill the role to some degree for you.
- Ask each member of your team for 3 things that they like and dislike about the organization or the team dynamic. Document accordingly and use this information to formulate your improvement plan.
- Begin (or add to) the knowledge management and knowledge transfer process. Work with your most experienced team members to document tips, tricks, strategies, best practices etc. Centralize this type of information as well as you can. This is especially important with the changing demographics of the workforce.
- Set up a buddy/mentor/ambassador system to help you on-board new members of the team. These individuals can also help you gather real time data on what’s working and what isn’t so that you can start making adjustments as needed.
- Formalize the “feedback loop” with every person on your team. You’ll need to have more 1 on 1 convo’s on what’s working and where things can improve – from your perspective and from theirs. If an improvement is beyond your immediate control, “manage it up” the ladder and follow up until you have a resolution one way or the other. Make sure your team has some level of visibility on that upwards communication so that they don’t feel like their concerns fall into a black hole.
- Discuss opportunities for growth with your team members on an individual basis. Pay particular attention to improving on current strengths and tightening up any skills gaps. Demonstrate your support and desire to help them find success.
- Document what you see as your own biggest strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes we are our own worst critics so discuss your thoughts with your mentor and see if their perception lines up with yours.
- Invest in your own growth as a manager. Attend management conferences and webinars. Add Google alerts to keep up to date on industry trends that can help you stay in the know. Consider a subscription to Audible to help with your own ongoing education.
- Start building the “skills overlap” for the most important tasks your team encounters on a day to day basis. Have at least 2 individuals capable of performing the task, utilize some peer to peer training in your plan to develop the skills overlap.
- Begin incorporating external learning opportunities for your team. Look for industry events or skills development to help them take advantage of the knowledge that exists outside of your organization.
- Start preparing a report on the wins and losses from the year that you can present to your manager or C levels (depending on your level). For items that were a success, document why they worked – for items that didn’t work, document those reasons as well as suggestions on how to avoid the same outcome on similar projects in the future.
- As soon as you’ve consulted with your superiors, put together your plan for the next year. Share this plan with your team once it’s in a digestible format. Go through the biggest challenges your organization foresees for the coming year and ask your team for their thoughts on how they fit into helping to solve them.
- Start putting together your budget for next year. Meet with your team to determine their needs in terms of new tools or training and prioritize their requests accordingly.
- If your organization is expanding, account for team growth by first identifying the technical skills that would be needed for any new positions. Now document the personality traits and so-called intangibles (work ethic, sense of humor, family oriented etc) that would fit your team chemistry the best. This information can be used when crafting a job description and will also come in handy when you begin the interview process.
Hopefully this information helps. Keep this page bookmarked as a reference point and feel free to share it with your colleagues!