A promotion to a management position is a reward, one that also comes with additional challenges. Most notably, new bosses must learn to balance their responsibilities with their teams’.
Becoming a manager is recognition of your strong work and career success. It’s not easy, though. Instead of the race to complete only your projects, you now must produce excellent individual results and ensure your team does the same.
Balancing individual job responsibilities with time spent overseeing others was the primary challenge CFOs in a Robert Half Management Resources survey cited as the most difficult issue for new managers, but not the only one. Financial executives commonly reported supervising former friends or peers, motivating staff, prioritizing projects and meeting higher performance expectations also are challenging for those stepping into a supervisor role.
With the added responsibilities, how can bosses ensure they and their teams are both successful? Following are seven tips to help new managers:
1. Set boundaries. If you maintain the same former relationships with coworkers you’re now supervising, you might have a hard time asserting your authority when you need to. Set expectations right away, while recognizing the challenges your employees are facing.
By acknowledging the changing dynamic between you and them right away, everyone is clear on your new role. Above all, if one of your best friends is a former peer, it’s vital for staff morale for you not to show favoritism.
2. Learn to delegate. Assigning tasks to others is one of those leadership skills new supervisors must become comfortable with quickly. The next time you feel you have too much on your plate, hand off some duties to your staff. Take the extra step and proactively look for projects to help your employees expand their skills.
At first, it may be frustrating to dedicate time to explain tasks you can perfectly do on your own, but it’s the only way you’ll be able to tap the full potential of your team. The extra time you put in now will pay off later.
3. Ease into changes. You have a vision for your team, but pushing through your agenda too quickly does not reflect sound leadership skills. It will only overwhelm and frustrate your department.
Instead, start small and slow. Take the time to learn more about your new job, the firm’s long-term plans and, most important, your staff members’ ideas.
4. Prioritize communication and dialogue. Good managers take the time to listen to their staff and learn more about them. What are their career goals? What is their dominant learning style? What do they think are areas that need improvement?
The more you know about your team’s ambitions and opinions, the better you can lead and motivate them. In addition to weekly or monthly group meetings, hold one-on-one sessions.
5. Don’t micromanage. Empower your staff and inspire innovation by letting them determine the best ways to solve problems. Give them room to fail or succeed, and to learn from those experiences.
Offer guidance and support, not step-by-step instructions. The more breathing room you give your staff, the more they’ll grow as finance professionals and develop their own leadership skills.
You’ll find this benefits you in your new position, too. In separate Robert Half Management Resources research, CFOs were more than twice as likely to predict an increase in their personal productivity than a decrease by giving staff greater autonomy over how and when they do their jobs.
6. Take care of your needs. With new management meetings, extra human resources duties and dealing with budgets — all on top of your individual workload — there may not seem to be enough time to get everything done. That’s why, as a supervisor, time management, including attending to your work-life balance, becomes even more important.
Block out time on your calendar so you can complete your tasks. Also, take regular breaks, including at lunch, and use your vacation days.
7. Find a mentor. This may seem counterintuitive, but new managers can benefit from a mentor with managerial experience. A mentor can give you advice on areas such as how to manage Generation Z workers and which of your leadership skills need improving. This individual also acts as a sounding board.
Becoming a manager should be a fun professional experience, but it also presents new challenges. Give yourself a head start on success by listening to your employees, building your delegating skills and speaking up when you need help. In the process, you’ll set the foundation for success in your new role and possibly the next step in your career advancement.
Tim Hird is the executive director of Robert Half Management Resources.•