Leadership Guide: Everything First Time Managers Need to Know
A promotion to a management position is a big step in your career.
While this is an exciting time, it’s also full of uncertainties and nerves.
But, before you get too overwhelmed by new processes and more responsibilities, take a step back and check out this complete management guide.
In this guide, I provide you with everything you need to know to excel in your new management position.
I recommend that you save this article so that you can reference it throughout your management journey for quick, expert tips to help you navigate your new position.
You’ll learn everything a high-performing team leader needs to know.
This article will cover:
Table of Contents:
A Manager's Guide to Emotional Intelligence
Expertise in emotional intelligence enables leaders to understand better and motivate people who follow them.
Emotional intelligence can do wonders for the productivity, performance, and management of team members and profitability for the business overall.
When we think about emotional intelligence (EQ), we think of sensitivity, likeability, sympathy, or sociability. But emotional intelligence is much broader than that.
According to Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence comprises of five components including, empathy, internal motivation, self-awareness, sociability, and self-regulation.
Empathy is having the ability to identify and relate with others while understanding the position they’re coming from. It allows you to understand the challenges and motivations your employees face.
Internal motivation is the drive to achieve goals for personal reasons instead of external rewards. It’s an essential factor as it fuels curiosity and self-improvement.
Self-awareness is merely understanding yourself, which is critical in achieving high EQ because you must first understand yourself to understand others.
Sociability relates to your social skills and your ability to manage professional relationships successfully. Having high sociability contributes to high EQ as this skill allows you to cooperate and communicate effectively in a group setting.
The last component of emotional intelligence is self-regulation, which is your ability to process your emotions and control your response. Having control over your emotions is a crucial component of EQ because it allows you to handle even the most stressful situations calmly.
There are three steps you can take to improving emotional intelligence:
1. Recognize and Name Your Emotions
A critical complement to effective EQ is understanding emotions, which starts with understanding your own. Allow yourself time to reflect on how you feel in various scenarios. Self-reflection will give you a better handle on the emotions you feel and how to handle them.
2. Ask For Feedback
EQ isn’t just about how you see yourself; it’s about how others see you too. Those with high EQ know exactly how they present themselves in social contacts, and the best way to learn this skill is to ask.
Start by asking family and friends how they perceive you and note where the gaps are between how you mean to come across and how others see you. Slowly work towards having an equal self and outward perception of yourself.
3. Read Literature With Complex Characters
Empathy is a central element of EQ, and it requires an understanding of others' experiences. When you read stories about other people’s perspectives, you gain insight into others’ thoughts, motivations, and feelings, which improves your overall social awareness.
Understanding the importance of emotional intelligence and how to improve it is critical to becoming a high-performing manager as it is the key component of great leadership.
Daniel Goleman found that of the three abilities of technical, cognitive, and emotional intelligence, emotional intelligence proved to be 2x more important than any other skill for successful leadership.
To learn more about the importance of emotional intelligence in quality leadership, check out my article, A Manager’s Guide to Improving Emotional Intelligence at Work.
Understanding and Managing Different Personalities in the Workplace
Understanding and managing different personalities at work is a vital skill to creating a high-performing team.
By understanding your team's different personalities, you will learn how to work effectively with each of the individuals, mastering how to energize and communicate with them and bring them together as a high-performing team.
The best way to understand your team’s various personalities is through using the DISC personality tool.
DISC creates a categorical understanding of typical patterns of behaviours and emotions of individuals.
It will help you recognize behaviour patterns in each of your teammates, helping you communicate and interact with them more effectively.
It’s important to remember that DISC is a tool to help you communicate better with your team members. IT IS NOT a measure of intelligence, skills, experience, education, or a values indicator.
Under the DISC model, you’ll see four different personality types, dominant, influential, steady, and conscientiousness.
While people are a combination of various aspects of each dimension, they have one dominant dimension that distinguishes them and their interactions.
Ds are fast-paced individuals who like to get things done. They’re good at thinking outside of the box and are recognized for their outgoing nature.
It’s best to give Ds freedom to set their own goals to give them a sense of control.
Is love people and are energetic, enthusiastic, and friendly individuals. They’re often the team cheerleaders and are naturally creative problem solvers.
Is react best to managers who are positive, upbeat, and enthusiastic in their communication.
Ss are dependable and great team players. They thrive in a harmonious and cooperative environment and are most productive with a regular schedule.
Cs are systematic and precise. They’re good planners and tend to provide reality checks for the team.
When working with Cs, always provide them detailed instructions and give them as much time as you can to complete their task.
To learn more about communicating and interacting with the different DISC personalities, check out my article, Four Employee Personality Types: Understanding and Managing Different Personalities in the Workplace.
How to Deal With Difficult Employees
Dealing with problematic teammates is no easy task, but the best way to deal with them is to learn how to effectively coach them.
Here is a list of the four types of difficult employees you’ll run into in the workplace and how to coach them effectively.
1. Coaching the Argumentative Employee
We all know that person who loves to argue just for the sake of it.
However, most often, an argumentative person is just someone’s defence mechanism to a negative environment.
The best way to coach an argumentative employee is to remember not to take things personally and not get caught up in an argument with them.
Argumentative people are not acting that way because of something you’ve done. They’re just using their anger as an expression of frustration and unhappiness.
Have a one-on-one session with this employee to get to the bottom of what’s going on.
Sit down and listen to their side of the story, but whenever you see a debate brewing try to steer the conversation in a different direction.
Listen to their perspective and let them provide feedback as this will allow them to feel heard.
2. Coaching An Immature Employee
As a professional, it can be overly difficult to deal with an immature individual. All you want to do is tell them to ‘grow-up,’ but this will only cause more problems.
Instead, I recommend that you develop a professional process for dealing with immaturity in the workplace.
Start by setting clear boundaries. Encourage mature behaviour and punish immature behaviour. For example, if an employee makes an immature joke in a meeting, tell them so.
When an employee is acting immaturely, don’t be afraid to call them out on it. Show them how their actions impact the business. For example, if they goof off around clients, you may lose sales.
Always reinforce excellence and demand accountability. When employees have high expectations of themselves, they’re less likely to waste time. You can work on raising your team’s standards by rewarding excellence.
Finally, allow an immature employee to develop. Start by slowly increasing the employee’s responsibilities and encourage them throughout the process.
3. Coaching a Disengaged Employee
Disengaged employees often feel disconnected from their work and the business. They feel they have no impact, and their work makes no difference.
The best way to actively engage team members is to ensure they have meaningful goals at work, encourage them to solve problems, and set clear and attainable work goals.
Remind your employees that their work matters by giving them tangible examples of the difference their work has made to the organization, and be sure to thank your employees for their hard work.
4. Coaching a Negative Employee
Negative team members can be incredibly hard to work with because they tend to drain the joy and positivity out of everything you do.
Create a one-on-one meeting with this employee and try to get to the root of the problem. Sometimes something personal will bring people down at work. Make sure to offer your support if this is the case.
Help the employee understand that their mood affects others. Share with them an example of when they were negative and how it affected the team’s morale and help them see what an alternative silver lining would have looked like.
To learn more coaching conversations you can have with your employees and other tips and tricks for dealing with difficult individuals, read my article, How to Deal with Difficult Employees as A New Manager.
The Right Way to Fire Someone
Whether you’re firing or getting fired, the process sucks for both parties.
However, by remaining professional and leading with emotional intelligence (EQ) throughout the entire process, you’ll make these difficult conversations move along much more smoothly.
To lead with EQ when firing someone, you must remain understanding and compassionate. Be open to feedback and prepared to listen.
Remaining professional means remembering the legal considerations when firing someone. For example:
❌ Don't let them take company property.
✅ Do ensure they no longer have access to business systems.
❌ Don't allow the employee access to the former office area or coworker.
✅ Do have prepared documentation at the meeting.
Then, once the firing process is over, be efficient in informing your team of the decision.
You’ll want to be direct and straight-forward with your team being sure to leave all personal details aside to avoid the creation of water-cooler gossip.
Finally, focus on the future after employee termination.
Starting fresh with a new employee will be an exciting time for your team, so use the momentum to keep moving forward in a positive direction.
For more information on how to properly fire someone, I recommend reading my full article, The Right Way to Fire Someone.
How To Improve Employee Engagement
According to a Gallup study, only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged in their work.
Disengaged employees monopolize managers’ time, drive away customers, and produce less and lower quality work.
The best way to solve disengaged employees’ problems is to transform them into engaged employees in five steps.
1. Use the right employee engagement survey.
To understand where and how to improve your employee engagement, you must first measure it, and your measurements must be accurate.
2. Focus on feedback from your employees.
To ensure that real change occurs, take feedback from your employees. They’re experts in business processes and functioning, and they know what works and what doesn’t, and why. Your employees will have strong and innovative ideas to maximize employee engagement elements and improve the workplace experience.
3. Select the right managers.
Not everyone is cut out to be a good manager, so remember this as you promote your team leaders. Managers play a critical role in team engagement, so you want someone with good communication and interpersonal skills and who is good at providing feedback and supporting their team members. A great manager makes all the difference in improving employee engagement.
4. Hold managers accountable for employee engagement.
The best way to improve employee engagement is to make it a measurable item that managers are held accountable for. Teach managers how to improve employee engagement on their team and then base an aspect of their performance on how well an employee is engaged. When managers are held accountable for employee engagement, they’ll prioritize it.
5. Define engagement goals in everyday terms.
The clearer the goal, the better chance you have at reaching it. This is the same for your team’s engagement. To improve employee engagement, make a clear goal surrounding it that can be measured and adjusted accordingly. Start by defining what team engagement looks like and bringing it up in discussion in weekly meetings. When employees and managers know what engagement is, they’ll know how to measure it.
For more information on measuring employee engagement and improving it at your organization, my article, Five Ways to Improve Employee Engagement Without Spending Money, has just what you’re looking for.
Developing Your Employees Beyond Management Positions
The story goes that career success comes from climbing the ladder to higher and higher management positions.
But the thing is, not everyone wants to be a manager.
A career path should adapt to the employee’s strengths and life circumstances.
Organizations need to offer career opportunities beyond management and expand the concept of career growth.
This can start by identifying non-traditional career paths such as an individual contributor.
For example, in 2018, Shopify introduced two parallel growth tracks within their company, the individual contributor track (aka the staff track) and the manager track.
Although each job level’s responsibilities would be different, their impact on the business would be comparable, and salary expectations would be identical.
As employees grow within your company, allow them to challenge themselves and reward their accomplishments.
Allow employees to grow in a fluid and adaptable way within your organization.
For steps on how to create a customizable career development plan, click here.
Strategies For Better Decision Making
Effective decision-making is an essential part of running a business, and so, the art of powerful decision-making is something every successful manager must master.
For some quick and easy tips to make better decisions personally and professionally, check out this Ted Talk by Matthew Confer.
For more management specific decisions, I recommend using these five techniques for improved decisions making.
1. Take a Process-Oriented Approach
People often think of decisions as events, but this is rarely the case.
Instead, decisions are part of a process.
By following a structured and step-by-step process, you create an effective plan for obtaining team and business goals.
As a manager, you must establish decision-making processes for both you and your team so that you can all make fast and effective decisions.
2. Involve Your Team
Decision-making shouldn’t be made in a vacuum.
Team decisions create a pool of collective knowledge and experience.
Your team members will help you make better decisions by bringing diverse perspectives to the problem, stimulating creative problem-solving.
3. Foster a Collaborative Mindset
When making decisions as a team, encourage an inquiring mindset over an advocating mindset.
When team members prioritize inquiry, they become collaborative in their problem-solving.
Instead of defending their positions as the only correct point of view, inquisitive minds test and evaluate assumptions by presenting balanced arguments, considering alternatives, and being open to feedback.
4. Create Psychological Safety
Psychological safety is the most important dynamic of any high-performing team.
When team members feel psychologically safe, they are comfortable sharing ideas.
The collaborative sharing of ideas and new information encourages innovation and better decision making as it allows the team to see problems from multiple perspectives.
5. Reiterate the Goals and Purpose of the Decision
Always remember the purpose of the decisions you’re making.
The goals that you want to achieve will be clearly stated before and throughout the decision-making process.
Having a clear goal in mind as you make a decision can make it much easier to eliminate various options.
To learn more about the psychology behind better decision making and how to empower individual team members to make better decisions read this guide to better decision making.
How to Develop and Use OKRs
OKRs stands for objectives and key results.
An objective is as simple as it sounds; it’s what needs to be achieved. Objectives are meant to be significant, concrete, action-orientated, and motivational.
Key results act as a benchmark and measure how to achieve the objective. They should be specific, timely, and measurable.
There are five steps in setting OKRs:
Team OKRs should be set collaboratively.
To do this, set up a meeting with your entire team. At this meeting, you will brainstorm together some objectives your team needs to help support the business.
Be sure to brainstorm in a collaborative document or application if you’re working remotely. This will be easier for teammates to add their feedback.
2. Choose Objectives
As your team brainstorms, summarize the team’s ideas into 1-3 clear objectives.
Less is more when it comes to objectives, as this will help keep your team focused on the end picture.
Use the SMART goal method when setting objectives to make sure they’re specific and relevant to the team.
3. Set Key Results
Now that you have your objectives set, you need to set key results for those objectives.
Key results should be designed in a way that clearly indicates whether an objective was achieved.
Remember, key results are a measure of work, not the work itself.
4. Assign Ownership
To ensure that results are achieved, someone must be held accountable.
Ownership must be assigned to every OKR.
Although OKRs belong to the entire team, the owners are responsible for tracking various ones’ progress.
The key to good OKRs is that they’re ambitious enough to challenge team members but not so hard that they’re unmotivating.
A scale of 0-1 measures the difficulty of an OKR. Numbers close to zero indicate an objective was not fully achieved, and numbers close to or equal to 1 indicate an easily achieved objective.
The ideal score to aim for is somewhere in the middle. A score that is too high indicates your OKR was too easy.
Setting effective OKRs drives team clarity, accountability, motivation, and productivity.
Overall, OKRs have the power to support high-performing team cultures.
To help your team get even better at OKRs, learn how Google does it.
Understanding How to Lead a Team You Inherited
Inheriting a team comes with many unknowns, which makes it hard to know where to start when looking to improve their performance.
The easiest first step when inheriting a team is assessing the situation.
Learn the different personality types on the team and group dynamic they’ve been working under.
Understanding where the team comes from, you’ll see where the gaps in their performance lie, what improvements you want to make as their new leader, and how.
Once you have a good feel for the team, create a sense of belonging and connection between everyone. This will bring you all together as a unit.
When the team feels connected, they’re more committed to one another and the business resulting in higher performance.
Once you have an established connection, be honest and clear about the changes you plan to make and how these relate to team and business objectives.
Team members will trust you more if you explain your reasoning for making changes and are transparent about the changes you plan to make.
You’ll also want to identify early wins for the team to achieve to up morale as they work towards improvement under your leadership.
As you make changes to the team, the operating system will begin to transform, and you’ll be able to implement improved processes successfully.
For a more detailed step-by-step process, follow this six-step guide for leading a team you inherited.
Tools and Terms Every Manager Must Know
This wouldn’t be your ultimate management guide if it didn’t get down to every last detail.
As a new manager, you need to understand office lingo to hold successful meetings and conversions at multiple levels of the business.
Expand your vocabulary to include terms like RACI, scrum, attrition with my Ultimate Glossary of Management Terms.
Another helpful resource for you as you navigate the new office is 25 Resources to Help New Managers be Successful in 2021.
This article includes everything you need to get started and find success as a new manager.
You’ll find various apps to support you, and TED talks to inspire you, as well as books to learn from and much more.
This article is your ultimate guide to taking the office by storm as you transition into your new management position.
✔️ The importance of emotional intelligence in successful leadership and how to apply it in your own management practices
✔️ You’ll find four different personality types at work and how to provide them the support they need to succeed
✔️ The ins and outs of dealing with difficult employees and how to fire someone with professionalism
✔️ Why employee engagement is crucial to business success and how to improve it in a cost effective way
✔️Strategies and tools to enhance your decision making skills
✔️ What OKRs are and how to successfully implement them
✔️ Effective strategies for leading a team you’ve inherited