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  • 3m.

    5 Rules First-Time Managers Need To Follow

    Being in charge sounds nice, but it's easier said than done. However, by setting expectations and following them yourself, you can be the boss without seeming "bossy."
    Updated: April 22, 2015

    What You'll Learn

    • How to establish credibility with your direct reports.
    • Why you need a clear vision for your team.
    • Why getting to know your employees is important.
    Four people in suits sitting around a table reviewing documents.

    Remember all those times you thought, "If I was in charge, things would be different ..."? Well, when you land your first management position, you'll finally get to make the rules—and manage the people who question all of them. (Gulp.)

    Taking on a management role at your current company or within a new organization can be exciting and scary at the same time. Fortunately, if you follow five simple rules, you can get your employees on your side and ensure your transition is easy and enjoyable.

    1. Find Mentors

    Like with any big life change, your transition to management will generally be smoother if you have a support system in place. If you were promoted within a company, your previous support system may no longer work for you—after all, they may now literally work for you. That could make leaning on them tough.

    Instead, find management-level mentors. Look around the company to identify other managers who seem to be effective and happy in their work. Ask to grab lunch with them, and then pick their brains for advice about overseeing people, managing at your company, or anything else.

    2. Establish Credibility

    Landing your first management position means your boss or hiring manager recognized your management potential—now, it's up to you to prove them right.

    Getting an official management title is just the first step. Next, you need to set an example for your employees. Establish yourself as a knowledgeable, trustworthy, and supportive person. It's kind of like the golden rule; think about the qualities you like your manager to have, then provide those to your people.

    Ultimately, those people will adopt your attitudes and anxieties, so recognize the image you project. Stay approachable and positive, and own up to your mistakes. It's important that you follow your own rules—that way, you can expect your direct reports to do the same. This will allow you to set ground rules and expectations early.

    3. Create Your Vision And Strategy

    Outline a short-term and long-term vision for your team, and share it with them. If you're joining a new company, it may be especially useful to reach out to your new team members before coming up with this vision. They will likely understand challenges better than you will. As a bonus, they'll definitely appreciate you asking for their input.

    Once you come up with your vision, follow up on it. If you let it slide, your employees will assume you'll let other things go too. Instead, establish time lines and benchmarks to measure progress. Then, make sure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities—and how they're integral to your team's success.

    4. Get To Know Your Employees

    Spend time with each employee on a regular basis. At the very least, set up recurring one-on-one meetings to go over projects, questions, or concerns they may have. If you're not a "meeting" person, that's fine—your employees may not be either. Still, it doesn't hurt to put that time on the calendar, even if you don't use it. That way, they'll feel like you're available to them.

    In addition, learn about what they do on the job, their career and development goals, their strengths and weaknesses, and anything else important to keeping them happy and your team on track. Knowing your team will help you earn their respect. But, of course, always treating them with respect helps with that as well.

    5. Network

    Grow your network within the organization so that you can be more productive. Start by introducing yourself to key people in other departments. Later, expand outside the organization through association meetings, conferences, seminars, etc. This will allow you to gain visibility for both you and your organization within your industry or functional area.

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