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Management Pros Share Their Secrets

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Who better to offer tips and insight to someone just starting their management career than the seasoned professional manager. We are fortunate to have such a group of management professionals frequent the Management Forum on this site. Recently, I asked them this question:
    "Remember way back when - when you got your first management job. What do you wish someone had told you then? What would be the one tip you would give to a manager just starting out?"

Their answers reflect the character and style of these individuals; their wisdom; their experience.

Here's a list of Ten Top Tips:

  • (M) Consult, consult, consult.

  • (A) You are managing people, not projects or product development or customer service or any other departmental mission. People are complicated and messy. They aren't machines any more than you are; they won't be the same every day, no matter how much you'd like them to be. So stay alert to what's going on with them.

  • (K) For the first couple of days, sit down and get to know your staff. Find out what they do, what their goals are, what they like to do in their free time, etc. Several years ago, I watched a new manager start with a company and for the first month or so, didn't talk to any of his staff. A month later, he wondered why people were handing in their two week notices.

    Get to know your staff!!

  • (R) Learn how to deal with problem or resentful employees. I was promoted into my position over a longer-term employee. She was made my assistant. (Before everyone raises the sexism issue, I was the ONLY male manager and was promoted on performance.) She had a great deal of resentment and worked against me at every turn. After floundering around for a while, I finally took her into the office and calmly explained the facts of life to her, that I was the manager and if she couldn't work with me one of us would be leaving and it wouldn't be me. She straightened out after that and we eventually developed a good relationship.

    Avoid re-inventing the wheel. Everything doesn't require your unique hand-print. Some things probably work just fine already. Also don't think or act like you know everything, nothing breeds resentment more than arrogance. You may be smart, but there's always someone smarter.

  • (MC) You are responsible for everything that happens in your scope of authority. Don't ever think that just because you may not be doing the actual work, you are not responsible---you *are*. Unless you are comfortable with this basic fact, management is *not* for you.

    The rewards come at a price. You will have to make decisions that will benefit the company as well as your staff....and quite often they are in direct conflict with each other. (You cannot be all things to all people....)

    You do have a right to be human. Just because you are now management, does not mean that you can (or should) throw emotion out the window.

    Laugh with your people....let them know that you are not a humorless troll.

    Be honest with your people...you expect the same from them. Even if it's bad news, honesty does help lessen the blow.

    Defend your people! They will reward you with their loyalty.

As exciting and as insightful as these tips for new managers are, there is one more we should add. Management is not for everybody. As (A2) put it "it's never too late to say thanks but no thanks....I'm happy where I am."

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