HR Minute: Tips for New Managers

By Claudia St. John, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

effective-managerBeing a new manager can be challenging and rarely does the promotion to such a position come with any training. Here are five pieces of advice that all new managers should know:

Never Complain Down. Despite the level of intimacy you might have shared with your peers before, in your new role it is no longer appropriate to air your negative feelings. It will kill their morale and will not earn you any respect. Save your complaints for your new peers and managers — and communicate them professionally and in a solution-focused manner.

Feedback First, Final and Frequent. Be committed to providing both formal and informal feedback. Of the four types of feedback (constructive, positive, insignificant and abusive), make it your goal to spend 80% on positive feedback, 20% on constructive feedback and throw the others away. You’ll find providing some form of positive, behavior-reinforcing feedback every week will be your best management tool. Just be sure it’s genuine and deserved.

Be Mindful of the Stories You Tell Yourself. We all do it — assess a situation or observe a behavior and tell ourselves a story about it. Unfortunately, our stories are just ungrounded, often biased, assessments of what we observe. Be mindful of your perceptions and be committed to grounding your assumptions and assessments before taking action. Ask questions and be open to different interpretations of what you have observed.

Listen. Managers mistakenly think they should have all the answers. They don’t. They have to be dedicated to listening … listening for problems and possible solutions. It’s hard work and few do it very well, but the manager who masters the art of listening will garner the respect of his subordinates and will go far.

The Only Person You Can Change Is You. It is impossible to change someone who doesn’t want to change. This is a vital lesson for managers. It is not your responsibility to change your employees — you can’t. Your responsibility is to make sure they know what is expected of them, that they have the tools necessary to do the job, and are given the feedback and encouragement to fuel desired change. What they do from there is entirely up to them

Claudia St. John is President of Affinity HR Group, Inc., a national human resources consulting firm serving hundreds of clients nationwide. With more than 20 years of experience in human resources, employee engagement, and organizational development, she is an author and a frequent public speaker who contributes regularly to publications on the topic of human resources.

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