12/31/2013 09:00 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Management Hacks for the Recently Promoted


So you made it. You are in management now.

There you sit at your new desk, or whatever outward sign of seniority is normal in your workplace. Now what?

Front line employees attach a lot of cachet and glam to achieving the level of "management." After all, senior people have snazzy titles, more privileges, better pay, and perks or whatever. Most people understand that the trade off is that more accountability or responsibility comes with the title. Or at least it should.

Assuming we are talking about a workplace where you now have responsibility for the performance of others, what can you do to learn the ropes of your newly acquired and complex role? What kind of manager are you going to be? The answer has a lot to do with what kind of person you are, and the culture of your workplace. For instance, the management tools required for a restaurant manager are vastly different than those needed to run an office of lawyers or accountants.

New managers evolve by learning from the mistakes they make along the way. If you don't learn from them, then we have a whole other conversation coming.

You are new, and if you are in the average modern workplace you probably didn't get a whole lot of formal management training to do your job. Likely you got the promotion because you are skilled, or smart, or somebody died and left a spot open. No matter, you have the big chair now, and need to think about how you are going to pull this off. You probably feel like you haven't got a clue. You are right.

I can't give you a detailed guide, but I will give you a few suggestions that are pretty much universal.

  • Never underestimate how much impact your mood can have on your staff. Try not to have moods. The worst leaders are "chocolate box managers" --you never know what you are getting when they walk in the door. People hate having to adjust to your mood.
  • Get to know your staff if possible. They are humans and you should have a mental list of observable strengths and weaknesses. They should trust that your list is fair, and that you genuinely want to help them when they struggle.
  • Get training around personality styles. I GUARANTEE you will save yourself a lot of frustration if you understand what drives introverts and extroverts. Learn about blind spots in people's behavior. If there is one area you can learn which will bring peace and understanding to the land is "personality style" issues. Invest in this training, it will serve you for your whole career.
  • Be damned sure you have all the facts before you call somebody out on an error or workplace misstep. And even more importantly, do it in private. Number one employee trauma: being humiliated. Don't do it... ever.
  • You are not their friend. They should trust your fairness, but you are not their pal. Making decisions based on your personal feelings about somebody makes you a bad manager.
  • Never pretend you know something when you don't... ever. And make sure your team knows they are allowed to not know something too. Honesty above all builds a trusting culture.
These may seem overly simple and basic, but in my experience I can tell you that the level of dopey out there in management is astounding. Truly, some of the worst people are in charge of other people's careers. Not fair, and says a whole lot about the culture of the employers.

So my newbie friend, go forth and lead but make sure your fly is done up, and that you have a clue.