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10 Things I Learned as a Newbie Manager

“Poise is an unseen power, and this unseen power is always ready to come to the aid of the outer action.”

~Sri Chinmoy

To Manage or Not to Manage

Entering a management role was definitely on my to-do list eventually, but when the time came I was nothing short of nervous. I have been fortunate to work for some incredible men and women throughout my professional life, however I have to mention that I have also worked for bosses who fell a little short.

My dream job is to seek a career in journalism and broadcasting, which I am actively doing in the upcoming school year. But before that dream came to light, I decided to take a gap year following graduation from my Undergrad. I effectively became the successful candidate for a job within the Student Union, and signed my life away for a year to manage a department at my new alma mater.

My initial thoughts were pure joy and excitement, that I would now have a plan for the next year. These thoughts were soon drown out with panic and anxiety. I was flooded with countless ideas on things I wanted to change about the establishment but other worries were also looming in my mind. My obsessive compulsive reflux to organize was tickled pink about the idea of this new job title but I was rather put off by the idea of being the boss.

Newbie Manager first day

How do you be a boss? Sure I had been in a major leadership role before but this was different. Was I going to be the cool boss, the sassy boss, the boss with no control? These were irrational thoughts when I look back now.

I soon learned that I was hired because of my skills and personality; that is truly who I needed to be. But with that being said there were a few extra things I learned along the way.

As managers, we all start off with a certain amount of trepidation. When we are new to the position, we imagine what the job is in order to get our arms around it, then we compare ourselves against our made-up model. The trick is to forget our models about what we “should” be. A better measure of our success is to look at the people on our team and see how they are working together. Can they rally to solve key problems? If the answer is yes, you are managing well.

– Ed Catmull

10 Things I Learned as a Newbie in a Managerial Role

1. Discovering the line between management and staff

This was the most difficult thing I needed to address walking into my role Monday morning. What is the proper way to interact with my staff? The best bosses I ever had, were people who I highly respected and who acknowledged me as a peer rather than a lesser valued employee of the company. Realizing that each member of your team is as important as the next will prepare your business like a well oiled machine. A good rule of thumb is essentially you should be human when you interact with your employees, allowing yourself to find a balance where you can work symbiotically.

2. If it hasn’t happened yet without you it is not going to happen unless you get to work!

A huge thing for me is organization and I tell you this because this is how I came to this realization. If you fear you will fail you will miss out on the chance for greatness. My goal was to reorganize my new place of employment. Once I pioneered the charge it was amazing to see the help that rallied around the mission. Often it is easy to fall into a certain way of doing business until and external driving force comes in to initiate that chance.

3. Delegate, delegate, delegate

You do not need to do everything yourself, unless you want to have an emotional breakdown with some serious chocolate and wine stains on your face. I say this very strongly!

Your job as the head honcho is to ensure that everything is completed to the best of your teams ability in a timely fashion. You have hired the best people for the job and they are there willing to participate. Save yourself the stress and involve them from the get-go because then this will become the norm!

4. Wear your boss pants with pride

If you feel like you are a “poser” just sitting in your swivel chair on the daily, disguised as a person in boss pants, realize that is not true! If you didn’t deserve to be where you are, then you would not be there. Think about what accomplishments you have made and how hard you have worked to be in the position that you currently hold. Walk into work with a confident attitude each day and you will begin to believe it to!

5. Follow my lead even if you have see my flaws

Glass shattering moment here people, your employees will see your flaws! If you hire the right ones, they will embrace you for who you are. Remember that changing your mind after you have declared something to be true does not make you weak or wishy washy. Having the malleability to change your mind means that you are open to different ways of doing things once you have gathered more information. No one is perfect or right all the time despite what your coffee mug says!

Simply do your best at being direct and organized. If a crew is confused, then you can assume that so is their leader.

6. The job of management is not risk prevention

Here is a quote from an outstanding novel by Ed Catmull one of the co-founders of Pixar Animation Studios.

“If you aren’t experiencing failure, then you are making a far worse mistake: You are being driven by the desire to avoid it.”

The tricky thing about failure is it comes with the same reputation as brussel sprouts, but both seem awful but actually have super amazing positives! Failure is the driving force that allows us to grow, learn and troubleshoot problems! Try new things while including your staffs opinions. If you are managing a store front like I was, ask your staff about their thoughts on new ideas, they know the customer best because they are on the front lines each and everyday – just don’t be afraid to fail.

Ed says, “Management’s job is not to prevent risk but to build the ability to recover.”

7. Creating a culture with energy and tone

Ed Catmull also tells us that, “One of the most crucial responsibilities of leadership is creating a culture that rewards those who lift not just our stock prices but our aspirations as well.”

There is a serious difference between a boss and a leader. As a leader you have the power to hold your ground and be respectable and strong, with the added bonus of listening to your staff. People can feel energy and if you remain calm and steady with your tone on a day to day basis they will better be able to gauge your future reaction. There are no stupid questions so check yourself at the door and save any underlying condescending tones.

No one is telling you, you have to be the next star of “The Devil Wears Prada 2”.

8. Conflict is inevitable and oh yes, you can handle it!

Whether it be an angry customer or a disgruntled employee you can one hundred percent handle this situation.

Getting to know your employees personally will help with how you handle situations. Again, understanding that the people who work for you serve your needs but are not your servants is key to growing with them.

Second, the weirdest feeling as a new manager is that moment when an angry customer asks for a higher up and you realize they’re looking at her/him! Fully separate your emotions from the situation that confronts you and put an imaginary energy block in front of you before approaching the situation with an angry customer. Try your best to understand the customers needs and do your best to work with them to ensure they leave in a more content state.

“It is management’s job to figure out how to help others see conflict as healthy – as a route to balance, which benefits us all in the long run” Ed says.

9. You don’t have to have all of the answers, sorry

There is no fault in saying, “I don’t actually know, but let me get that answer for you”. I’m sorry but the reality is that you are not Google, you’re not even Bing for goodness sake! You’re not a robot and no one expects you to be!

10. Mistakes won’t actually ruin your life

It is true, mistakes won’t actually ruin your life. Obviously we all approach situation in hopes that they will work out. But if that doesn’t happen, no worries the road to success often has construction but regardless you move forward on your journey.

When asked to manage or not to manage – choose manage. You will have so much fun making something your own and surrounding yourself with a team. Treat each day as an opportunity to grow the company and to grow personally. Respect your staff and they will respect you, and never forget to have a little fun!

Sending you all some positive vibes. September is renown for new beginnings so just go for it and just start!

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