How to Manage with Intention…Not by Accident


How did you come by your new manager position? Chances are you were promoted because you proved yourself as an individual contributor. However, the skills that helped you succeed on your own are not necessarily the skills that will help you succeed as a manager.

We have all had “bad” managers at some point in our working life. Some were domineering and micro-managed our every move; others were uncaring and absent. Some were not able to communicate effectively either because they never stopped to listen or because they listened too much. Some were poor at making decisions due to their inability to analyze and take certain risks or their impatience at choosing a path, any path, forward. The list goes on and on.

What you need to do to succeed as a new manager is to manage with intention, not by the “accident” of your unexpected promotion. In other words, think hard about what kind of manager you want to be, what goals you want to reach and who you want on your team.

New manager training will give you some context as you ponder these questions but the process can be boiled down into three categories:

  1. Plan the time to do it right.
    The best new managers show that they genuinely care about their team. How can you do this? By scheduling time to meet with individual team members on a regular basis and staying available to help handle questions and concerns as they arise.

    Be intentional about checking in with your direct reports…daily if needed. This may take no more than five minutes per person but, if longer, chances are there is some issue that needs your attention. Your job is to keep your team as productive as possible by removing any obstacles to their success. Handling important issues as they arise and before they become overwhelming will save you time and headaches in the future.

  2. Plan and articulate job performance expectations and team goals.
    The best new managers are absolutely crystal clear about what each job entails and are able to communicate performance expectations to each individual team member. First know what it is that needs to be accomplished, assess the strengths and interests of your team members, and then agree upon how success will be measured and assign tasks.

    Each team member should understand who is doing what, what success looks like and how their work contributes to the overall team and organizational goals. With clarity and structure, ownership of the goals will belong to the team, not just you.

  3. Plan to work with the right people.
    When all is said and done, it matters a lot who you work with. You look forward to working with people you respect. You don’t considerate it “work” per se to spend time with people you enjoy. So be intentional about those you choose to join the team. A team that plays together (when the work is done), stays together.

    Think about the organizational culture you want to shape and then hire the attitudes and competencies that will promote and support that culture. Avoid the loner if you want a collegial atmosphere or the overly social if you want a team that works better on their own.

Be the new boss who is thoughtful about what it feels like to work for you, who knows when to push and when to praise. Listen well and encourage your team to ever greater effort. Know where you are headed and exactly what it will take to get there. This is the way to show that you as a new manager have what it takes.

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