By Rob Cahill, Co-Founder & CEO of Jhana.
Whether newly promoted or hired externally, brand new managers are going through one of the most exciting—and most challenging—transitions of any upward career trajectory.
Drawing from my company’s research and conversations with HR teams and new managers—and also speaking from personal experience— I’ve put together a list of 10 habits that new managers often struggle to build. Not coincidentally, they’re also critical for new managers to get right.
1. Hold regular 1-on-1s. You can’t know what’s going on with your team unless you talk to them. No matter how busy your calendar, schedule 30 minutes of face time every week with each team member. Never cancel.
2. Give and request regular feedback. No one can work in a vacuum—not you, and not your team. Make sure you are giving each member of your team regular feedback and that most, but not all, of it is positive. Likewise, it’s up to you to solicit feedback on your performance from both your boss and your direct reports.
3. Proactively manage up. Your boss isn’t a mind reader. If you need help, notice something that needs changing or just want to keep your boss in the loop, it’s on you to speak up.
4. Clearly define expectations. If someone’s not delivering what you wanted, it likely means that you, the manager, haven’t done a good enough job communicating your expectations. For every project, use specific language to describe what a successful outcome looks like to you, and double check—in writing—that your instructions are clearly understood.
5. Set fair goals. If possible, ask for your team's input to select and shape goals. They'll be more committed to goals they've contributed to in some way. Once you've set goals, be sure to also define how you'll measure success.
6. Delegate well. It can be hard to let go, but it’s imperative to your team’s success that you trust them and enable them to do their jobs. Assign tasks, and then oversee, but don’t micromanage.
7. Don’t shy away from tough conversations. It’s your job as manager to address problems head on, even and especially when doing so makes you uncomfortable. Waiting will only make things worse.
8. Own your mistakes. It’s common for new leaders to want to seem invincible. Resist the urge to fight or deny mistakes. Instead, admit your error, and describe what you’re doing to fix the problem and how you will ensure it doesn’t happen again. This advice applies to everyone you work with, not just your manager.
9. Take hiring seriously. Don’t assume HR will do all the heavy lifting. After all, this person will be a part of your team, so it’s on you to ensure you’re hiring from a diverse, qualified pool of candidates. Don’t rely on your network. Some of my best hires have come from unexpected backgrounds.
10. Embrace your peers. Cultivate strong relationships with different groups and departments. The next time your team needs something quickly from Marta in sales or Jamal in Accounting, the trust you’ve already built will pay off tenfold.
Rob Cahill founded Jhana in 2011 after personally experiencing how proper management can make or break retention and help reach company goals. Rob's mission is to provide effective and relatable management training that is available around the clock. Today, Jhana's clients have grown to many Fortune 1000's including AOL, Orbitz, CARFAX, Career Builder, Groupon and more. Rob was previously at Sunrun as chief of staff to the founder, helping the company scale from 20 to more than 200 employees.