New Year Resolutions for First-Time Managers

Happy New Year!

For first time managers struggling to move their business units forward in 2015, now is the time to take a step back and focus unwaveringly on the fundamentals of managing and leading others.

As such, I offer up five New Year’s Resolution for these first – time leaders.

1. Be clear

The first task of any leader is to set clear goals and targets and make sure that they are understood by the team. Clear objectives need to be simple, few in number (3 – 5), and constantly repeated. Then, the manager needs to avoid distractions and trivial matters and remain focused on the goals and targets.

Effective leaders don’t have to be passionate. They don’t have to be charming. They don’t have to be brilliant…They don’t have to be great speakers. What they must be is clear. (Marcus Buckingham, Business consultant and author)


2. Follow up and hold accountable

The second task of any leader is to follow up and hold the team accountable to get the clearly set goals and targets completed. As a manager, that is now what you must spend much of your time doing.

You should never aspire to be a manager or an executive if you don’t do follow-up. You won’t be happy, and you won’t do a good job, because that’s what leaders do most of the time. (Martin Zwilling, Entrepreneur, consultant and author)

3.  Go and Get it Done…Now

As individual contributors, most first time managers complained about how long it took to get things done. Ironically, now that they are in a managerial role, many of these same managers become the bottlenecks that prevent their team from getting things done.

The manager is slow in assigning tasks. Or the manager puts off making a decision until more information comes in. Or the manger does not take action without the boss’ approval. Or the manager requires everything that her team produces to get her comments and approval before being sent out. Or the manager takes his time hiring someone for a critical role.

All of these delays may be justified. But, they slow down the team and the business and contribute to not getting done what needs to be done.

Instead, the first time manager needs to move quickly and decisively and get it done…now.

It is better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission. (Anonymous)

4.  Think “We”

As an individual contributor, the first time manager was judged on what he did. Now, as a manager, she is assessed by the work of her entire team. As such, the manager needs to think in terms of “we.” This can be difficult and even counter-intuitive for the fresh manager.

  1. Ensure that any good idea gets credited to someone else on the team
  2. Deliberatively using the word “we” even when the word “I” may be more truthful
  3. Getting the ideas of the team before sharing their own viewpoint
  4. Letting team members take the initiative and make decisions on their own
  5. Realizing that their primary job is to coach, teach and support to make the members of the team better

5.  Get Help

No, I do not mean psychiatric help. Instead, first time managers need to realize that they do not need to go it alone. There are countless people within (and outside) their organization who they can and must turn to for counsel and feedback. In short, first time managers need to put their egos aside, be humble, and ask others for advice and assistance.

Who to ask?

  1. Their boss – remember your boss was once a first time manager and has been through this already
  2. A mentor – someone who the manager can brainstorm and share ideas with
  3. Their peers – other first time managers who are going through the exact same experiences and challenges

In short, by keeping these five New Year’s Resolutions, first time managers can develop their team, achieve their goals, and together drive their business units to success.

Happy New Year!!!


About David Shedd

David has been a President - CEO - COO of an up to $350M group of manufacturing, distribution, specialty retail and services companies, having led 22 different businesses from turnarounds to start-ups to fast growth companies.
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