I recently revisited a voice mail that my group’s senior manager had left me, just after my promotion from consultant to consulting manager, congratulating me on the new role and wishing me well.
Listening to the voice mail again brought back a rush of memories – she had left it while I happened to be in-flight to visit one of the offices where many of my employees are based, and I was also about to head to my first sessions of Adobe management training.
One of the things that developed quickly and clearly for me in that narrow window of becoming a new manager was a focus on what I should manage. It was a key part of our management training, but it also became crystal clear in the day-to-day experience of starting to lead my team.
What did I realize that a new manager should learn to manage and focus on managing? Their team, their business, and the future. You have to keep a good, healthy balance of each. Let’s consider them:
No matter how many direct reports you have, you absolutely must spend a good amount of time with each of them. You need to develop and nurture a relationship with each member of your team, so that you can manage them effectively. Knowing their interests, passions, and experience will ensure you’re able to connect them to the projects and efforts that they’ll enjoy being a part of and be effective contributors to. Developing a trusted relationship will allow you to coach and counsel them, and to give critical and constructive feedback when necessary.
Your team and your leadership depend on you to be able to manage the day-to-day nuts and bolts of your business. Whether you hold some form of cost center responsibility, are tasked with nurturing the business models and development of the profitability of your team’s projects or time, or some other aspect of business management, one thing is certain: neglecting your business is your fastest path to failure. Your team will lose trust in you as their manager if they don’t see you firmly understanding the business and leading it appropriately, and the leadership above you will question your fit as a manager.
Not only your team and your leadership, but their families & households, and the entire company’s ongoing growth and success, are dependent on the growth you and other leaders can imagine and inspire within your team and company. Additionally, your team is looking to you for inspiration and motivation on an ongoing basis. As a leader, you must set aside time to reflect upon, and plan for, the future of your team and your team members.
It’s really easy to dive in too quickly, too far over your head as a new manager. Particularly if you’re evolving from a contributor role to a manager role, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by how much more of your time immediately becomes needed for others’ impromptu needs and how little time you feel like you have over your own time (more on that in a future post.)
Eagerness to perform well and make an impact can easily throw you off balance. Focus and prioritization are critical, and maintaining a balance between managing your team, your business, and the future can keep you poised for managerial success.