My First Year as a Manager
To all the men and women pursuing a career in leadership, I want to share my experience moving into this role, the mistakes I made, the lessons I learned, and some of the rewarding moments I've had during my first year as a people manager.
My manager gave me some sound advice when I moved into a leadership role. He said, "It's not about you anymore, it's about your team and the company." It took some time for me to digest what this truly meant. I knew I needed to put aside my personal goals, accolades, and accomplishments, and instead focus on the individuals on my team and help them learn new skills, take on more responsibilities, and foster an environment that allowed them to grow to be great recruiters.
I needed to figure out my management style. I knew I didn't want to micromanage, but I didn't want to be too far removed, either. I was reading PRINCIPLES by Ray Dalio, and he talks about managing a team like a ski coach. You can either be a coach at the bottom of the slope, let your student ski down and then give them feedback or you can ski down the slope with them, side-by-side, giving them feedback and advice along the way with enough distance to allow them to create their own style. After reading that excerpt, I knew the latter was the type of manager I wanted to be.
Time management is immensely important in a leadership role. Meetings start piling up and the time in between those meetings need to be taken advantage of to spend time replying to emails, working on projects, and making sure tasks are being completed. The key to successful time management is delegation. The first thing I tell new managers is to find three meetings on your calendar you can delegate to someone on your team to free up valuable time to spend on other tasks. By delegating to others you create more time for yourself but also empower those people to take on more responsibility and be entrusted to complete important tasks.
One of the most important parts of being a good manager is giving constructive feedback. It took some trial by error to realize some people don't learn the same way I do. I needed to figure out what motivates each individual person on my team and adjust my feedback delivery and goal setting to get the most out of that person. Having open communication, building trust, and delivering constructive feedback in a meaningful way is essential.
I don't have all the answers and I'm not the ultimate expert when it comes to managing people. There is no one size fits all solution but I know what works for me and my team. Mistakes will be made, emotions will run high, and many obstacles will stand in your way. Learn from those mistakes, take a level-headed approach, and persevere in the face of adversity and I guarantee, you will be successful.
“Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”
— General Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State