5 Lessons To Embrace As A Manager

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What makes a good manager?

How do you measure success as a manager? Am I doing enough to help my reports? As a new manager, I’m constantly asking myself these questions and many more.


Many books, podcasts, videos, and blogs are good resources on how to be a great manager, and I highly recommend attending leadership training courses if you have access to them. In this blog, I’ll share some leadership advice I’ve learned through experience and from my mentors that seems to be working so far for me as a new manager.


#1. Take time to learn about each of your reports.

The first time I met my old mentor, we just sat and had lunch and talked about life. There was some work talk here and there, but for the most part, she just wanted to get to know me as a person. Looking back, I realize how much that helped build our trust. Our relationship never felt transactional. It felt like she cared about me as a person first. 


There is no single approach that will work for all of your reports. I have a diverse team, and each person comes with a unique set of lived experiences, personality types, and working styles. Don’t assume that what has worked for you in the past will automatically work again. When a new person joins your team, take the time to get to know them first. I’m talking beyond just their prior work experience. Really take the time to get to know what motivates them, what ticks them off, or what kind of communication style they have. I like to be intentional and present in my 1:1s with my reports. I do my best to turn off my notifications and avoid checking emails when I’m meeting with them. It takes time to learn what each person needs and how you can support them best as a manager. I took a page from my mentor’s book and learned how to balance conversations about work and life.


#2. Lead with vulnerability.

I don’t come across this piece of advice often, but this is something that I picked up from people in my life. The leaders that I have related to most were the ones that were willing to show vulnerability. Managers who were able to admit their faults or accept when they made a mistake; leaders who told me that they don’t always have all the answers. I think the raw honesty makes me trust them more. I’d rather someone tell me the truth I may not want to hear rather than promise me something that may never happen. If you expect transparency and honesty from your reports, you have to be willing to give it yourself first.


I’ve learned that getting people to open up is much easier if you open up first yourself. I probably picked this up from my past experience as a health counselor for at-risk teens. When teens would come in for health counseling, I first struggled to get them to open up about their issues. I would ask questions, but they wouldn’t share as much as I would have liked them to. I had to change my approach. I realized the sessions felt too transactional like I was just going through a checklist of things I’m supposed to say. I dropped the script and started sharing a personal story of mine, and that’s when it clicked. Being able to relate on a vulnerable level helps break down the walls a bit, and it becomes easier for both sides to share what they really feel.


You won’t be able to connect personally with every team member, but you don’t have to. However, in my experience, leading with vulnerability helps establish that trust much sooner. 


#3. Ask for feedback consistently.

This is something I need to be better at myself. I will occasionally ask for feedback, but not nearly enough as I should. In line with my previous point about vulnerability, it’s important that you get feedback on how you can improve as a manager. If you feel comfortable enough to have that conversation with your reports on a call, I encourage you to do so. If you’re not at that level yet, anonymous feedback is also helpful. It’s not that I don’t want feedback or am afraid to ask for it; it’s usually because I get so caught up in the work and make sure that my team members get the support they need. Be sure to set aside time and be intentional about getting feedback on your leadership. I know there’s a lot I can improve on as a manager, but I need to carve out time in my schedule to allow for feedback.


#4. Be kind to yourself.

Another piece of advice that I have for new managers is to please be kind to yourself. You are trying your best and won’t always get it right the first time or maybe the second time. There will be growing pains and mistakes made, but as long as you are patient with yourself and continue to learn and adjust as you go, you’ll do just fine. Management can be stressful, but if you’re too hard on yourself, you’re not doing your reports any favors. I try to remind myself that the more time I waste on unnecessary stress, the less energy I spend helping my team.


A friend of mine once told me that in order to best be there for others, you have to forgive yourself first. Forgive yourself for past mistakes or shortcomings, and take the little steps to improve yourself daily. I still think about that conversation a lot, and it has helped ground me as I continue to navigate how to be a great manager.


#5. Celebrate and embrace diversity.

We are a diverse crew at Key Lime Interactive. It’s one of the traits that sets our company apart from others. We have folks from many ethnicities, professional backgrounds, and ages. Since everyone brings their own skill sets and experiences, it can present a unique opportunity for a manager. We have to learn how to utilize those strengths and put folks in the best positions to succeed. If you are someone who enjoys this challenge, we welcome you to take a look at our website.

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