A few insights for those who are stepping into their first-ever managerial role.
Having worked placing candidates within creative agencies for the last four years, some of the talented people I placed in Junior roles back in the day are now stepping into management positions.
This is an exciting and potentially daunting time and I thought it might be a good opportunity to share some of my experiences talking to candidates about their preferred way to be managed and hopefully provide a little insight.
Learn to let go.
I hear this one almost daily. Micromanagement is a sure-fire way to demotivate any staff member. It can leave your juniors feeling belittled and in extreme cases, powerless in their working environment. It also goes against the entire reason you have a junior report, to take work off you, not create more work for you.
How do you know if you are doing this? Learn to let go. Have faith in your junior(s) when delegating tasks with an expected ETA and instructions then sit back and let them do their job. Feedback is important once they have completed the task and if you need to give criticism make sure it's constructive and also coupled with some positives to boost their confidence. If you don’t see improvement moving forward you may need to look at the way you are briefing or delegating and ensure they are understanding your instructions. Remember not everyone receives information the same way!
Communication is a two-way street
You may need to use a bit of trial and error when determining the most effective way to communicate with your junior report. Is it a weekly or daily catch up? Is it face to face or a written task list?
Communication is key and making sure you are using the best methods to avoid any confusion is important. Investigate what you find to be most effective and then make this into a routine. Constancy is just as important as the communication itself.
You can’t schedule all communication; there will be times that sh*t hits the fan and you will need to be there as support if the situation is elevated. This requires you being approachable, so your report feels comfortable putting their hand up when things aren’t going right. This means you will have the opportunity to help them get back on track before the damage becomes long term and then the finger is pointed at you because remember, ensuring they are doing their job correctly is your job!
Celebrate the wins
As well as supporting and being approachable during the hard times it’s super important to celebrate the wins and promote positive reinforcement with your team. This can be anything from a “job well done” pat on the back, an email sent around the office praising their efforts, to a team lunch to celebrate and also bring everyone closer on a social level.
Remember you are their manager, not their friend
Boundaries in this relationship are very important and while we encourage healthy working relationships, in the early days it’s best to maintain a professional relationship. As time, trust and maturity grow you can begin to share more personal parts of your life but always maintaining your professionalism. This will have a direct impact on your juniors’ level of respect for you as a manager.
Know when to say no
There’s being approachable then there’s being taken advantage of. If you are too lenient on your report some (not all) will take advantage of this. This includes annual leave days, flexible working arrangements, punctuality and general fulfilments of the role requirements. If you are noticing a consistent lack in this, you may have to use your management authority to remind them of their job description.
To follow protocol, we suggest a face to face catch up to humanise the experience. Always make note of this in your files in case you need to reference in future. Failing improvement, you can move to a written warning and then followed by a performance management plan. Work with HR or senior management to put this in place.
Know who to ask when you don't have the answers
There may be moments when you don't know the best way to support the people you manage, and that's ok! Just make sure you know where to turn. This could be as simple as asking your own manager or HR team.
Alternatively, you may find the need to contact an external organisation with specialist knowledge. This could be as easy as calling your chosen recruiter for market-specific recruitment advice, or maybe an organisation such as Black Dog Insitiute, an organisation iknowho partner with. They provide free resources to help you to spot early signs of mental health issues and promote wellbeing within your team.
Overall, if in doubt remember back to your early days and those managers who had a positive impact on your career. You have the chance to make a real difference in this person’s life so even if your previous experiences weren’t that great – to quote Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world”.
For any further information or advice contact iknowho for a confidential chat.