What's the First Thing New Managers Need to Learn?

Last Updated Oct 22, 2009 11:33 AM EDT

What do new managers need to learn?You're a young go-getter and your ambition and hard work have just paid off: for the first time, you've been promoted to manager. What's the first thing you need to learn?

Your company will probably take care of training you up in HR procedures, time management and scheduling, but this may leaving you wanting more. If you feel your training is inadequate, Dan Bobinski, writing on UK site Management Issues, says you're not alone. Five years after getting promoted, he tells readers "seventy-five percent of first-time managers are still struggling to be effective in their position."

So what can you do to ensure you're in that twenty-five percent of new managers who thrive? Stress less about the technicalities of the job (not to say, you should ignore them) and worry more about the people on your team, advises Bobinski. Management in the end is about people, and Bobinski feels the first thing every new manager has to learn in the personal quirks, preferences and ways of working of the employees he or she will be supervising:
Perhaps the easiest way to become an expert about the people you manage is to learn the different ways they think, the different ways they prefer to act, and their different motivations....

Study the different ways people perceive and process information, along with how they make decisions. People often prefer one method over another, and just because you, the manager, like a particular method, it doesn't mean it's the best method for everyone.
Also study the different ways people behave. Some attack problems with gusto, while others take their time.... Managers should understand these differences--and value them. The same is true with the different ways people interact, how fast they can adjust to change, and how closely they adhere to rules.

Contrary to what many managers believe, not everyone is motivated by more money. Again, you can choose to criticize what motivates someone, or you can value it.
What other lessons do new managers struggle to learn, and how can they go about starting their careers in management on the right footing?

(Image of ladder by Crucsou-Barus, CC 2.0)
  • Jessica Stillman On Twitter»

    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.

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