Pam Wesley and Kristen McAlister were once first-time managers. Just like any other person in the position they were daunted and eventually learnt some management lessons the hard way. Their advice for new managers is to network, get a mentor and ask for help when you need it.
If you’ve just been promoted to manager for the first-time in your career, congratulations! It’s a big achievement, and a huge responsibility. It’s finally your chance to make changes the way you’ve always envisioned them.
Some first-time managers swim, while others sink. They can get overwhelmed because of lack of training and support. A study by The Ken Blanchard Companies with over 500 managers revealed that 49% felt unprepared to succeed while 59% said they did not have sufficient support to fulfill their needs.
Advice for new managers: It’s OK to ask for help
“[Upon becoming] Vice President of operations, I had no idea what I was doing,” says Kristen. “I hoped that no one would ever figure it out. It was like land of the blind where the one-eyed man is king. That’s what I felt like. I just wished that I had someone I could’ve talked to.”
Even if you’ve been working at the company for a long time, your understanding of the company changes when you’re the one making the decisions. You may lack knowledge and feel like you don’t know anything. That’s when you should ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask your peers and subordinates about something you don’t comprehend.
Advice for new managers: Get a mentor
“A mentor would’ve been invaluable to me,” says Pam. “Had I had known a little bit of what to expect, I think I could’ve done a little bit better than I did. I would’ve learned a lot faster than when I was just thrown in right from college. Key groups and having a mentor are great.”
A mentor has already made all the mistakes you’re probably going to make without their advice. They can advise you on avoiding those mistakes and on ways to make your role more efficient.
Find someone senior who works within your organization or outside it, or somebody in a similar industry or a different one. It doesn’t matter where they work. Older managers can give you invaluable advice. You can find mentors in key manager groups or CEO peer groups, or you could hire a business management coach.
Advice for new managers: Networking is essential
“Networking’s critical,” stresses Pam. “Because if you don’t have a mentor, you don’t have a key manager group to go to where you can meet with some of your peers, or people from other industries that you can network with. After that, start asking questions. We have as a brutal story as you do. So, get it out there and be vulnerable. The lessons you can learn from that is just fantastic.”
Making contacts with people in your community and industry is a great way to meet new mentors and people from whom you can ask advice. It gives you access to a network of people you can reach out to for help in achieving your goals and strategic plans. Share your story and the challenges you face, and you’d be surprised with some of the tips and suggestions you get in return.