Succeeding as a New Manager
The Fundamentals of Managing
A. What change in attitude is required when taking on the role of manager?
Now that you are a manager, your job is to make sure that everyone else completes his or her job. In other words, you were accustomed to a position where you did things, and now you are in the position of making sure others do their things. This shift in responsibility will require a change in attitude as well. Your overall goal is to ensure that your employees develop and apply their skills to their full potential. By doing so, you create a positive workforce and enhance your organization’s productivity.
B. Why is my attitude toward my employees so important?
Some individuals who become first-time managers make the mistake of developing a superior attitude toward their employees. They see themselves as better or smarter than the employees with whom they may have worked side-by-side. Managers who adopt this attitude overlook a crucial fact: your employees enable you to reach the goals that upper management expects you to accomplish.
You must view your employees’ performance as your own performance. Without talented and dedicated employees, you will not be able to meet the long-range objectives set before you. You are only one person, and you alone cannot do all the work required to meet your goals. Therefore, you must learn to view your employees’ concerns, accomplishments, conflicts, and needs as items of high importance and give them the attention they deserve.
C. How do previous managers influence how I will manage?
Unfortunately, many people who are promoted to management positions are not properly trained for the job that lies ahead of them. As a result, they often adopt the management style of their own previous managers, for lack of knowing any other method of managing people. Even individuals who are trained for their new management position tend to incorporate certain traits of the management style used by their previous manager.
For this reason, it is important that you recognize the strengths and weaknesses of your previous manager’s style and adopt only those characteristics that produced positive results. You can learn much by studying your previous manager’s style, so take the time to consider how effective he or she was instead of blindly adopting that style as your own.
D. What are the different styles of managing?
The different styles of managing are as unique as the individuals who manage. However, two fundamental styles of management are extreme opposites:
• The autocratic manager
Autocratic managers use a top-down approach to managing their employees. They discourage upward communication and instead prefer to give employees directions. They view communication as a one-way activity used to get results from the individuals they manage.
The obvious weakness of this managing style is that it fails to benefit from the knowledge of employees. An autocratic manager does not realize the wealth of ideas his or her employees have to offer since their opinions are not regularly solicited. In addition, autocratic managers expect their employees to understand clearly the assignments he or she asks them to complete, without additional clarification.
However, there are strengths to the autocratic style. Since communication is one-way, autocratic managers are forced to think out exactly what they want to communicate and articulate their message. Therefore, autocratic managers tend to excel at one-way forms of communication, such as giving presentations and writing meeting agendas. In addition, autocratic managers are concerned with action, so they discourage time wasters, such as idle chatter. This attitude often helps maximize productivity.
• The democratic manager
Democratic managers take a team-based approach to communicating with their employees. A democratic manager continually seeks input from his or her employees by encouraging two-way communication. Employees are consulted when decisions need to be made or when new ideas are required to solve a problem.
Most employees prefer to work for democratic managers since they feel that their opinions and ideas are valued. Employees also feel more comfortable approaching democratic managers with their thoughts and concerns than they would feel approaching autocratic managers.
Since they consult their employees before making decisions or solving problems, democratic managers tend to require more time for those activities than autocratic managers need. It is more difficult for democratic managers to make immediate decisions since they need time to discuss issues with their employees.
E. What style of managing should I use?
It is important that you use a managing style that is appropriate to your personality and the nature of your workplace. While the democratic style has obvious advantages over the autocratic approach, you need to remember that both styles have strengths. It is up to you to use the managing style that is most effective in a given situation.
Establishing two-way communication with your employees offers many advantages and should always be encouraged. There may be times, however, when you will need to take a more autocratic approach, such as when you need to direct employees through a highly detailed, critical process for a project.
The most important thing to keep in mind when developing a style of management is to keep the well-being of your employees in mind at all times. Remember that your success as a manager is entirely dependent on how successful your employees are, so you must use a style of management that serves their needs and helps them achieve their full potential.
F. What basic functions will I have to perform as a manager?
Being a manager means having many responsibilities. Before becoming a manger, you were responsible only for completing your own task, but now you are in charge of planning, coordinating, directing, and monitoring the efforts of your employees. Your tasks range from helping employees manage their time effectively to monitoring their individual task progress.
G. How will people react to my new role as manager?
When the individuals in your office learn of your promotion, there are a variety of responses you can expect. Some people may feel jealous that they were not chosen for the position and respond coldly to you. In fact, these individuals may openly question your ability to handle your new responsibility. Some people may go out of their way to get on your ”good side” by playing up to you, while others will simply take a ”wait-and-see” approach and withhold judgement until you have had time to prove yourself.
Being aware of the different types of responses you may encounter helps you prepare for handling them. The way in which you react to these responses influences how your employees perceive you as their new leader. If you handle each response appropriately and with confidence, you show your employees that you take your job seriously and that you are determined to become an effective manager.