12 Tips for New Managers

Praxis alumni Nate Baker and Nick Rundlett both became new managers this month. Congrats, guys!

Nate asked the community for tips on how to be a good supervisor. Here is what our advisors and alumni had to say:

  1. Make sure their expectations are clear. Nothing will frustrate both you and them more than unclear expectations. Schedules, deadlines, quality guidelines, their decision-making authority, etc. Also set clear expectations on what to do if they finish their daily tasks early. If projects are ambiguous because the role is new, be clear with them that you’re figuring this out together and lay the grounds for what that is going to be like.
  2. How you react to things early on sets the way they’ll interact with you for the rest of the time you work together. If you get upset and react negatively to things, they’ll be less inclined to tell you when things go wrong. If you are calm and explain how to fix the problems and mitigate damage going forward, they’ll always come to you for help when it matters.
  3. Do lots of work ahead of time to set meeting agendas and drive meetings forward. Keep the meetings short and end them early.
  4. Incentivize daily communication and status updates, and lead by example in this area. Don’t use status updates as an excuse to micromanage. Instead, use them as a way to give feedback and praise.
  5. Praise and thank more than you criticize.
  6. Lead by example. How they see you interact with (and talk about) your superiors is how they’ll interact with and talk about you.
  7. Accept that all new hires are initially a time/resource suck. Plan for it! Set aside the time to train them, give them a brain dump of everything you know/want them to do, and give them feedback on the first projects. Don’t let your full plate lead to you doing things for them if it’s not right the first time! They’ll be much better employees a few months from now and a great resource for you if they learn and have agency over their stuff. Sometimes it feels easier in the moment to say “I’ll just do it myself”, but it is more productive in the long-term to train them well so that they can take on tasks independently.
  8. Give clear feedback if they aren’t performing at the level you expect. People don’t read minds so if you aren’t happy with them be clear about what you would like instead.
  9. Encourage them to ask questions. Many new hires are afraid to ask questions and that never works out well for anyone. If there is a certain channel you prefer them to ask you on, let them know.
  10. Don’t micromanage. No one likes when someone breathes down their neck and watches their every move. Give your staff autonomy.
  11. Be approachable. Nothing is worse than having an unapproachable manager. Even if you are approachable, remember that starting a new role is intimidating. Even the most approachable people can feel unapproachable sometimes.
  12. Ask for help if you need it. There is no shame in asking your own managers how they’d handle a situation if you don’t know what to do. Ask for feedback instead of asking them to solve it for you. A good approach is to explain the situation as you understand it, state what you think you should do, and ask for feedback.

Thank you to Sara Morrison, Oluwatobi Walker, and Amanda Kingsmith for their contributions!