I’m just over three months into my current role, and about seven into my career as a whole. I say all that to bring attention to the fact that I’m relatively new into the management part of my career. So, today I thought I’d share five things I’ve learned while managing my team, with hopes that my tips will be helpful for the future managers of tomorrow.
Get to know your people.
Whether you inherit a team or hire a brand new group to work with, building teams (and trust) both take time! That said, at the core of successful working relationships is understanding for one another. My first order of business when I inherited my new team was to meet with each player, one-on-one to ascertain a few different things, including: what processes were already in place, what immediate priorities were on the horizon, what barriers they felt they were immediately facing, and how I could be most helpful. Then, I did what any new manager would do, I let them guide.
I spent the first few weeks in my position watching them in their roles. Heading their feedback in our initial meeting, I tried to follow inherited processes, tackle immediate priorities, remove impending barriers and be as helpful as possible. That’s not all I did during this time, I also observed very carefully. I tried to pick up on areas where my team was frustrated, but perhaps not comfortable enough to share it. I tried to notice areas where they were interested in growing their skillset, but also constrained. Ultimately, I worked to develop trust and a better understanding of my people.
Once I was about a month in, I was noticing opportunities to help create or streamline processes and shift the workload. It’s only natural to assume that one manager’s style is going to vary from another’s, so I carefully began to take more control in areas I felt I could add value, and delegate more opportunities where I thought my players could thrive. That however, is not all I did.
As I alluded to above, I tried to observe frustrations my team had that, for whatever reason, they weren’t openly sharing. It was then that I was able to really add value in my team’s eyes. By identifying frustrations, and finding ways to alleviate them, my team knew I had their back and ultimately, that I was working to make their lives easier at the office. Again, a huge win in terms of building trust.
Set clear expectations.
It sounds easy right? Set expectations so people know what they’re responsible for. That said, when I walked into this role, it became very apparent that organization and processes were missing. In full disclosure, my position was brand new, and was created from two separate positions, so there was a huge opportunity to begin streamlining processes, and that’s exactly what I did.
I’ll never forget the email I got one night after I sent a brand meeting agenda for my morning meeting. One of my team leads was incredibly thankful and expressed how helpful a document like that would be in ensuring everyone is on the same page and action items are being completed. I was shocked in the best way and excited to know that my team was on board with the direction I was beginning to take things.
Praise in public, correct in private.
This is a phrase I can’t take credit for; the first time I actually heard this it was from my mom who at the time was sharing a story about someone at her office. Thankfully I had that advice in mind on a tough Wednesday. I won’t get too heavy into the specifics, but I will tell you there was a doomed Wednesday that took its toll on me. Almost a perfect storm of unexpected messes, and they all fell crashing on me.
What’s most interesting to me about this example is that when it came down to it, none of the messes were actually a direct result of something that I did wrong. Again, it was a perfect storm of little inaccuracies that led to a vendor being really dissatisfied with our partnership. Once the dreaded email arrived and I was able to go back and correct everything, I took a step back to think about how I would want my boss to handle my misstep. When I replied to our vendor, I took complete responsibility for the mistakes. I communicated clearly that I had resolved all of the inaccuracies and provided action steps that outlined how our team would avoid getting things this wrong again.
Then came the conversation with my team lead, a conversation I was not looking forward to in the slightest. Interestingly enough, this might be the proudest moment I’ve had in this role, to date. I was able to turn the mistake into a teachable moment and help my team lead grow from the experience. I was also able to articulate that as the “boss”, I felt it was my responsibility to take accountability for the mistakes. I was able to put into place a plan to ensure mistakes like this would not happen again, and I articulated that the second time something like this happened we’d have to have a very different conversation. I can assure you, as much I felt myself grow from this experience, I felt my team lead grow as well.
Once you know them, build into them professionally.
This is huge to me, perhaps because I’ve always worked for leaders who have wanted me to grow as a professional. Due to the nature of radio, and how quickly things move, I set up weekly meetings with my team to ensure we could touch base and keep things moving in good directions. But after about my first month, I decided I would take five to ten minutes out of these meetings to work on professional development with my staff. It was amazing to see how excited they got to ask questions and share updates on things they were doing to grow their respective skill-sets.
Managing a team is tough, but it’s one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had thus far. I’ll look forward to growing my managerial experience in the future!