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5 Key Lessons for New Managers

By: Heather Warthen, H1 Marketing & Events | Mar 5, 2019

Key lessonsIt can be tough stepping into a management role for first-time managers. Not only are they responsible for a department, project or event, but the role often comes with managing people. Below are 5 key lessons for new managers.

1. Respect is earned
One of the common mistakes new managers sometimes make is establishing authority and demanding immediate respect from their staff. They want to make it clear that they are the boss, but rather than unite staff they push them away with wanting to establish dominance. Take a step back and rather than come in with the “I’m the boss” attitude, make an effort to get to know your staff. Find out who they are, what they like, what they don’t like, challenges they have and successes they’ve enjoyed. A simple conversation can help break down walls and establishing open communication encourages respect.

2. Don’t change everything
You’re going to have a lot of new ideas, but a common mistake new managers make is immediately wanting to change everything. While some things probably do need a refresh, you need to rein in this desire to put new practices and processes in place the day you start your new role. Find out the “why” before you start implementing new ideas without understanding why it’s done that way in the first place. People also tend to be adverse to change. By making smaller gradual changes it makes it a little bit easier for people to adjust and support your decisions.

3. Make it an open environment
New managers sometimes come in with an agenda of things they want to accomplish. They don’t want to take the time to listen to new ideas … especially ones that are not their own. Instead, you’ll have more success by creating an open environment with staff. Encourage them to speak up and share new ideas. Transparency is often important, especially with a new manager, so if you help them understand the “why” behind what you are doing, they are more likely to be part of the buy-in. I have learned that by asking for their opinion – “What do you think?” – it empowers them to be part of the solution.

4. Be available, be present
The more involved and engaged you are with your team, the more motivated they will be to do a good job. I also believe in leading by example. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty with them. I think it not only shows you’re willing to pull your own weight but also makes you a little more respectable and human to employees. Go on a sales call with them. Help them with load-in for an event. When they want to talk to you, be an active listener. Put down the cell phone and turn your computer off. Showing them you can listen without distraction speaks volumes. More often than not, people just want to be heard.

5. Ask for feedback
This is incredibly hard for a new manager to do, but it’s so important. Use it as an opportunity for you to not only grow in your management role but also as an opportunity to learn more about your employees and what they value in a manager. You’d also be surprised what employees see you do or not do. It’s also important to not be the person who dodges questions or doesn’t respond to emails. As a rule, I try to respond within 24 hours. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll at least email the person back and let them know I’m working on getting the answer or a solution to their problem.

About the Author: Warthen is Chief Events Officer and Chief Marketing Officer for 22nd Century Media, an award- winning media company specializing in hyperlocal content in Chicagoland. Hired as its first employee in 2005, she is a former award-winning journalist and photographer who now manages the planning, logistics, marketing and executing of more than a dozen community events and expos. She is co-chair for the MPI-CAC Marketing & Communications Committee.



Heather Warthen, H1 Marketing & Events
H1 Marketing & Events

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