The step from a junior employee to supervisor can be a daunting one. It’s one thing to manage your own schedule, workload, and projects. Once you add others to the equation, whether it be a summer intern or a new team of direct reports, it can be difficult to manage your work while also managing other employees.
Here are some tips to help you manage your first team.
The last thing you want is your team twiddling their thumbs until you come up with something for them to do. Know exactly what projects you need them to work on. It could help to give your direct reports a list of projects or tasks that you want them to help with and point out which ones need attention first. Of course, things do not always go as planned so you will need to be flexible and understanding.
When introducing your team to a new project, give background information. They’ll be more engaged and motivated if you explain the importance of a task rather than simply asking them to do it. Sometimes the project could be just as mundane as it seems. Don’t try to sugarcoat it, simply explain why it is needed. Be honest, be direct, and be compassionate.
If you’re team sees you stressed out, they will follow in your footsteps. Practicing mindfulness takes time and effort. It does not happen overnight. However, there are things you can start doing immediately to help you stay present, focused, and calm.
Spend a few minutes each day doing nothing.
Your mind needs time to rest. Take a moment to ground yourself and calm your thoughts.
Get in touch with your senses.
Notice the subtle sounds, smells, and feelings around you. Listen to the air conditioning creeping out of the vent. Smell the coffee your co-worker just brought back to their desk. Feel the cool touch of your desk. This will slow your mind and help you to focus.
Pay attention to your walking.
Slow your pace and feel your feet against the ground. Rather than rushing across the office to grab something from the printer, take your time and notice the world around you.
Ask for Feedback
Perhaps the most important aspect of managing a team for the first time is getting their feedback.
How is their workload? Are they bored or overwhelmed? Do they have any ideas on how workflow could be improved?
Be sure to confirm and clarify what your team is trying to say to avoid misunderstanding. Try to rephrase what they’ve said and ask if you heard them correctly.
Start with: “So if I am hearing you correctly, you think…” Or “let me see if I understand what you’re saying.”
End with: “Is that right?”
The best part about working with a team is that you have a new group to bounce ideas off of, learn from, and grow with. Take the time to hear their thoughts. If you’ve done a good job in guiding them, they will probably have some great ideas. Be honest with your expectations and allow your employee to feel comfortable being honest with you.
Your team is an extension of your work and ideas. Help them grow and encourage their success. The rewards will be infinite.