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New to Management? Here are a few key Ideas to Excel as a Leader

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By Jessica Valdez   |    February 14, 2018   |    10:05 AM

These steps can help you inspire your team, propel you to success

Congratulations, you’ve been promoted to manager. Now you’re tasked not only with ensuring your work passes muster, but that your team also meets or exceeds expectations. Here are some tips from those who have made the transition to manager and done so with success.

Clear communication

Set your goals and communicate them in both team and companywide contexts. Let your team see how their efforts make a difference. Goals create a sense of purpose and passion. Your team will successfully work through challenges and setbacks when they share a mission. Your job is to define that mission and inspire team members to keep striving to fulfill it.

Let your team shoulder the load

As a manager, your inclination might be to dive in when things go wrong. But resist the urge. Instead, give your team the opportunity to work through challenges and setbacks. This allows them to take responsibility and ownership, as well as credit for successes.

A key part of this is delegation. You can’t do it all, nor should you. Your team won’t be inspired to work hard if they know they can just let things be and you’ll take care of them. Instead, assign tasks to individuals and hold them accountable for completing them. If you know the task has the potential to be daunting or particularly challenging, offer support and guidance, and check in often on progress.

Play to people’s strengths

Everyone has strengths, and your job as a manager is to make sure the tasks you assign employees allow them to capitalize on them. That’s not to say you shouldn’t challenge people, but make sure when you’re asking employees to stretch and grow, you’re doing so with tasks tailored to their personalities. As they achieve success with new tasks, their focus will heighten and their pride will increase, as will their belief in your confidence in them.

Of course, all of this is predicated on knowing your team. Knowing employees’ likes and dislikes about their job can help you understand how to best seize upon their talents for the betterment of the entire team.

Also, when you’re assigning tasks and tracking progress, make sure to do all you can to protect your team from distractions. Act as a filter for outside requests so your team members don’t lose sight of their goals while trying to address the requests of others.

Provide clear feedback

Don’t micromanage and don’t be too timid to track progress. It’s a fine line, and one that often is best handled by weekly status updates, whether in a report or a one-on-one meeting or both. Regular updates can alert you early if problems are brewing or if deadlines are likely to be missed, and can help you rally your team back to the mission.

As work is completed, assess it as candidly and constructively as possible. Make sure your feedback is fact-based rather than emotional. Discuss expectations (which you have already clearly expressed) and how they are being met. Outline steps for improvement, and tie them back to the mission.

Changing conditions might require adapting goals and, in turn, team members’ tasks. Weekly meetings also can be used to redirect and re-prioritize individual workloads.

Just as timely feedback can energize employees, it can head off problems before they become big problems. Don’t procrastinate on difficult conversations.Don’t let the daunting awkwardness of conversations with problem employees deter you. An awkward 15 or 30 minutes one-on-one to talk expectations and accountability can be so much less awkward than a 15- or 30-minute conversation in which you have to fire someone.

And don’t forget that feedback is a two-way street. Weekly one-on-one meetings also allow employees to express any concerns they have and allow you to work through them together.

Don’t forget the fun

Establishing good relationships with employees and coworkers doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it always happen in the office. Just as time and consistency will help create camaraderie, a few out-of-office experiences also can increase bonding. Plan activities that don’t center on work, maybe once a month or once a quarter, and get employees out of the office to play some games, experience something new or just have a little fun.

Similarly, a meeting outside of the office can offer a nice change of pace and create opportunities for employees to bring up concerns they don’t feel comfortable raising in team or staff meetings. Grab lunch with employees when you can, it will allow you to get to know them and to have some fun that doesn’t center on work.

And when you’re in the office, don’t forget to lighten up every now and then. A joke or a share of a funny video can help your team smile even in the most stressful of times. Productivity can be aided by a little levity, and humor can keep things in perspective.

Care about your people

Above all else, good leaders know and care about their people.

Success comes from everyone working together for the mission. But every member of your team has a life outside of work. Don’t forget that, and make sure to take an interest in their lives. Employees appreciate understanding, as well as knowing you see them as people and not just drones in the hive, and will respond with their best when they feel they are valued as individuals.

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