Many employees get early promotions either because they excel as individual contributors and are hungry for management positions or organizations, always seeking new managers, end up with no choice but to promote their star performers.
These young managers, in spite of being highly capable and intelligent, often struggle as managers. They miss the simple common sense stuff and start reading management books because usually in the past they have secured their positions excelling academically and working harder than everybody around them. More than anything else, these managers need simple tips that they cannot learn from reading books and listening to lectures from management gurus. Having seen many young managers struggle, I have compiled a few tips for them.
- Be the first one to report to work, i.e. be at work before anyone of your direct reports get there. And be the last one to leave if possible. The hard working people will rock the world.
- Start a day with a simple “to do list” and do not overdo the list. Someday you may have nothing to add to your list. If so, talk to your supervisor immediately and inform her/him that your plate is empty. It implies that your team has nothing to do.
- At least spend 5-10 minutes face time with each of your reports. And create comfort zone between them and you with a sense of humor and mutual respect. As a manager you should always avoid stiffness and promote sense-of-humor.
- Always provide daily deliverables to your team members. And check couple of times a day how they are doing and how you could help them.
- Make sure everyone in your team is excited and learning something new every day. It is important that the team is intellectually challenged.
- Make a habit of responding to e-mails the same day your receive them (if possible within an hour). If detailed response is not possible, at least acknowledge the receipt and provide the time when you will respond with full detail.
- Do not impose boring academic style training to your reports. They join workforce to get hands-on learning and you don’t want them to repeat school-style learning “read this document, read that book, write this “hello world” program, etc.
- Straight talk with your reports. Point out their mistakes but provide them an opportunity to learn from those mistakes and enhance their confidence with statements like, “you can do better,” “you have a high potential,” “I see you winning big time,” etc.
- Share your career path with your direct reports so that they know where they can get to if they do well.
- Celebrate success with them and face failures with humility and team-spirit.
I have not ranked these tips in any order. The most important one is to work hard and be friendly with everyone in the team and know everyone in the team very, very well. You can manage someone only when you know his/her strengths and weaknesses. A good manager creates opportunities for everyone in the team to excel and prosper. I consider you a great manager when you can make everyone in your team a winner. In a winning team, all win or all lose.