5 Leadership Tips for First-Time Managers

Congratulations! You’ve started your business, assembled your team and you’re ready to go. You probably already have all of the qualities of a good leader. Do you know how to be a good manager?

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Managing people is like a game of chess; there are many moving parts. To get the best outcome you must think a step ahead and recognize each individual’s strengths. Whether you’re working with a team of two or 20, it’s all about finding the best role to suit each employee. Here are some leadership tips that will take your managerial skills to the next level.

1. Inspire and motivate your staff.

When learning how to be a good manager, thin back to the best bosses you’ve ever had. Did they make you feel motivated? Did they lead by example? After a hard day, it might be tempting to complain about customers or express annoyance. Good managers stay positive and upbeat so employees can see what kind of attitude is expected in the workplace. By treating everybody with respect, and making it clear that you have high standards, you’ll inspire everyone on your team to follow your lead and motivate one another.

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2. Delegate well.

You may have a talented group of people working for you, but a key part of management is harnessing their skills and turning those skills into performance. Start by hiring smart (check out our top tips for interviewing candidates), then learn your employees’ strengths, and adapt their roles to play to their strengths. Delegation isn’t as simple as dumping piles of work on people. Start off with smaller tasks and gradually assign projects that will challenge your employees. Take responsibility for their mistakes, but don’t take credit for their successes.

3. Hone your communication skills.

Many workplace problems arise because of communication challenges. Part of what makes someone a great boss is the ability to actively manage conflicts and find resolutions that suit everyone. Be straightforward with your staff and keep the lines of communication — and your door — open at all times. Active listening is one key skill that all good managers should cultivate. It helps you get to know your staff, their concerns and their ambitions. Listen carefully to what your employees say, then clarify the main points by repeating what you’ve heard back to them.

4. Set realistic goals.

Organize regular one-on-one meetings so you can set goals and give employees feedback. Set realistic goals and make a career progression plan for all your employees so they have an idea of how you see their development best working for the company. These meetings also provide a useful exercise to help you hone your business plan and an opportunity to check the pulse of your company through the eyes of your employees.

5. Involve employees in decision making.

Ineffectual managers issue commands, good managers explain their requests and great managers involve employees in the decision-making process, says Mark Graban in this Entrepreneur post. On small teams everybody has to pitch in, and including your staff in decisions — both large and small — can boost morale and make them feel valued. Whether it’s deciding on the daily special at your coffee shop or helping choose an advertising campaign, find ways to encourage initiative and seek out your employees’ feedback.

Now is the time to use these leadership tips and develop your own style. Remember that whatever your approach to management, the key to being successful is to listen, be straightforward and respect your employees. More often than not, they’ll do the same for you.

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