If you made the leap into management in 2016, here are some tips for an even better 2017.
Earlier this year, I wrote about people skills that were important for new managers to develop. However, there is even more best practice information that can help new managers. Since this is the time for new year's resolutions—here are some additional guidelines for those who made the leap into management in 2016:
Be true to your style and yourself
Most employees prefer participatory and inclusive managers. If you are by nature participatory and inclusive, don't feel that you have to change yourself into someone who is authoritarian now that you are a manager. Conversely, if your natural style is more authoritarian, be the person that you are, but also work at tempering this personality trait so that staff members still feel they can approach you freely.
Accept that your friendships with others will change
The work buddy you routinely used to go to lunch with might not perceive you in the same way if you are suddenly made his or her boss. Furthermore, you as a newly minted manager can't afford to be perceived by other members of your staff to favor some staff members over others. There is some truth in the old saying that "it's lonely at the top." The net of this is that you will not be as free to fraternize with co-workers as you were when you were simply one of them.
Remember — you are now the company!
It might have been okay in the past to get together with co-workers and complain about a company policy, but once you become a manager, it's not ok. At this point, you are management! Your path now is to work toward changing a policy or a work practice through positive suggestions and demonstrating to others who are your peers or superiors how these changes can help the organization.
Get to know your vendors
Nearly every job that IT undertakes is influenced by vendor products, services, tools and consulting. Because vendors play such pivotal roles in IT, one of the first desk jobs for a new manager is to get know the vendors, the products and services they supply your department, and how your peer managers and your superiors perceive and use these vendor offerings. Once you get a handle on this, you can determine if your group is getting the most out of these vendor products and services—and what to do about it.
Don't forget to focus on your relationships outside of IT
If you are a new manager in a business-facing area like business systems analysis or training, you should spend at least one quarter of your time getting to know your management counterparts and their superiors in end user areas. Part of your job is to develop and to build healthy relationships with end users. This in turn will pave the way for your staff to do its work with less friction or resistance. Relationship-building isn't a task that shows up in project timelines, but it can impact those timelines if the job isn't done well.
IT projects are fraught with risks and uncertainties. This once prompted a management peer of mine who headed up manufacturing to say, "Managing production on the floor is hard enough, but I'm glad I don't have your job!"
Despite the risks and constant change, however, IT management careers are exciting and challenging—because you don't always know what will happen on any given day with a system, your team, end users or vendors. This is why having a solid set of management guidelines and best practices can help you find your way in your early days as a manager. You'll also find over time that you will develop your own best practices as you gain experience.These will serve you well. They will also be value-added to your staff and your company.