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How to Work Under a First-Time Manager

Posted on 4/7/2023, 6:23:50 PM

Working under a first-time manager can be both exciting and challenging, but it doesn't have to be a negative experience. Here are some tips and strategies for working under a first-time manager, along with some examples to illustrate their application.

Communicate Effectively

One of the most important things you can do when working under a first-time manager is to communicate effectively. Your manager may not have a clear idea of what they want or how to communicate their expectations, so it's up to you to initiate conversations and seek clarity when necessary.

For example, let's say your manager asks you to complete a task that isn't clear. Instead of assuming what they meant, ask for clarification. "Can you provide me with more information about what you're looking for so that I can complete this task more effectively?"

Set Expectations

Your first-time manager may not have a clear idea of what they want or how to communicate their expectations. As an employee, it's your responsibility to set your own expectations and goals.

For example, if you want to take on more responsibility, schedule a meeting with your manager to discuss your career goals and how you can work together to achieve them. "I'm interested in taking on more responsibility and growing my skills. Can we discuss how I can take on more challenging tasks or projects?"

Be Supportive

Your first-time manager is learning and growing, just like you are. Instead of being critical or judgmental, be supportive and helpful.

For example, if your manager is struggling with a particular task, offer to assist them. "I noticed that you're working on X. Is there anything I can do to help?"

Provide Feedback

Providing feedback is a two-way street. While it's important to receive feedback from your manager, it's equally important to provide feedback to them.

For example, if your manager's communication style isn't working for you, provide specific examples and suggest alternative approaches. "I'm having difficulty understanding what you're asking for when you send emails with a lot of industry-specific terms. Can we try to use more plain language in our communications?"

Take Initiative

Don't wait for your first-time manager to give you direction. Take initiative and look for opportunities to improve processes, suggest new ideas, and take on new responsibilities.

For example, if you notice a process that could be improved, suggest a solution. "I've noticed that this process is taking longer than it needs to. I have an idea for how we could streamline it. Can I share it with you?"

Be Patient

Remember that your first-time manager is learning and growing, and it may take time for them to develop their management style and skills. Be patient and understanding, and offer support and encouragement when necessary.

For example, if your manager is struggling with managing conflicts within the team, offer to help mediate. "I noticed that there's been some tension between team members. Can I help facilitate a conversation to work through it?"

Understand their management style

As a first-time manager, your manager may not have a clear idea of their management style. Some managers are more hands-on, while others prefer to delegate tasks and responsibilities. It's important to understand your manager's approach to management so that you can adapt your working style accordingly.

For example, if your manager is more hands-on, they may want to be involved in every step of a project. In this case, it's important to communicate regularly and provide updates. However, if your manager prefers to delegate, they may want you to take ownership of a project and report back when it's completed.

Help them prioritize

First-time managers may struggle with prioritization and time management. They may be overwhelmed with their new responsibilities and struggle to juggle multiple tasks and projects. As an employee, you can help them prioritize by communicating the urgency of tasks and projects.

For example, if you have a deadline coming up, let your manager know and provide an update on your progress. "I wanted to let you know that the deadline for this project is coming up. I'm currently working on X, and I should be able to complete it by the deadline. Is there anything else that you need me to prioritize?"

Be a problem solver

As a first-time manager, your manager may face unique challenges that they haven't encountered before. You can help by being a problem solver and offering solutions.

For example, if your manager is struggling to manage a difficult team member, offer suggestions for how to approach the situation. "I've noticed that there's some tension between X and Y. Have you considered having a one-on-one meeting with them to discuss the issue and find a solution?"

Build a relationship

Building a strong relationship with your first-time manager is essential for success. Take the time to get to know them and understand their goals and priorities.

For example, you can ask them about their career aspirations and how you can support them. "I'm interested in learning more about your career goals. How can I help you achieve them?"

Provide solutions, not just problems

When presenting a problem to your first-time manager, it's important to offer potential solutions. This shows that you're proactive and invested in finding a solution.

For example, if you identify a potential issue with a project, come prepared with suggestions for how to address it. "I noticed that there may be a delay with this project. I think we could address it by doing X or Y. What do you think?"

In conclusion, working under a first-time manager can be a challenging but rewarding experience. By communicating effectively, setting expectations, being supportive, providing feedback, taking initiative, and being patient, you can not only survive but thrive under their leadership. Remember that your first-time manager is learning and growing, just like you are, and with the right approach and mindset, you can both achieve success.

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