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Effective Managing: A Primer For Newbies

A couple of weeks ago, I had a former co-worker email me out of the blue. Though we haven’t seen each other since I moved out of Arizona((Where he and I worked together.)), he was excited to tell me that he had been promoted at his current job. As a result, he is now in his first managerial role at a company. While I didn’t have much formal managerial experience((I’ve had about 6 months as a true supervisor, though I’ve been in leadership positions of various levels for about two and a half years at various jobs.)), he asked what advice I could give him about being a manager.

After thinking about it for some time, I decided that there were five areas he needed to focus on in order to be an effective manager. While I highly doubt that my ideas are revolutionary, I did decide to put them in a nice acronym.


My advice to him was that if he follows the five items listed above, he will have the skill set to be both effective and useful to leading a team of people. I expanded a little bit on each of the points I sent to him, and I thought I’d share the same points I made to him with all of you.


The foundation of any good managerial relationship is built upon communication. While it’s an understood that managers may not always be able to tell everything that they know to those who they manage, beginning and maintaining an open dialogue with anyone who reports to you. Honesty is the primary component to clear communication, however there are a few other communication items — expectations and advising — that I’ll get to a little further down the list.


Even more important than communicating with someone by speaking to them is taking the time to actively listen to those who report to you. You’ll get two valuable pieces of information by doing so. First and foremost, those who report to you will typically let you know at least a portion of the things that they feel like they’re struggling with. Combine those items with the things you feel like they need work on and you’ll be able to make action plans that allow the employee to feel like they have input in. The second piece of information you’ll get is feedback as to how you can improve yourself as a manager. While there may be someone who says you need to work on something and they’re the only one who has that opinion, if you’re hearing the same feedback over and over, perhaps that’s where you have room to grow.


As much as communication and listening are vital skills to leading a team of people, setting expectations for what should be done by those you’re leading is equally important. It’s great to have rules and policies about various items, including attendance, performance, and attitude. That said, if you don’t make those expectations clear…and by extension hold people responsible for those expectations…what you say begins to have little weight. Being transparent and consistent about your expectations will help you to build credibility as a manager.


I’ve had a few managers over my time in the working world who felt that the best way to lead was to teach someone what to do, then let them do it on their own with no feedback. If that employee succeeded, great. If that employee failed, too bad. Managing people is just as much about coaching people as to what they can do to improve their performance as it is making sure they show up on time((If showing up on time is what they need to work on, awesome. You can kill two birds with one stone here.)). The role of a manager is best viewed not as a boss, but as a teacher or adviser. You don’t have to be completely hands off to help someone succeed. If anything, the opposite should happen.


While not a direct management technique, per say, an effective manager uses their recruiting efforts to improve their team within the vision and ideals that they want to see exhibited in their personnel. Though I generally dislike the concept of a vision statement(Or similarly cliche items.)), a manager should work to build a team that has the traits that they feel will best help their team and department to succeed. Seek out people who have those qualities — and make sure you actually find people with those qualities instead of those who are lying about having them((I recommend using behaviorally based interview questions. They’ll give you a more clear picture as to someone’s future behaviors.)) — and work to improve your team as it grows and changes.

Are there specific skills that you feel are important for managers to have? Sound off in the comments.

  1. This is something I really struggle with. I have a HUGE project at work where I act as somewhat of an intermediate supervisor for a group of temporary employees. While the project is large, it’s laid out into steps that are as simple as possible…and there are still a few things that people just aren’t getting. And I literally don’t know how else to explain it, or how to explain exactly how important it all is without being ridiculously brutal. But really…it’s as simple as I can make it. LOL.

    1. Managing certainly does take patience, that’s for sure. I’d be happy to give you some advice, however the explanation you gave leaves things kind of vague. You’ve tried breaking the information you’re giving to these people down into small chunks, which is a good thing…but how relatable is that information? A key component to making something learnable is to make it both easy to understand and easy to apply. Perhaps there’s a gap in there somewhere?

      1. The project involves digitizing very old records- right now we are still in the very early stages, but I have typed notes and sit with new employees for a bit to go over the process we have laid out. When I have a room that is probably more than 10×12 filled with records, and you don’t realize that EVERYTHING is in alphabetical order to make things easy to find (or even bother asking what the system is if it isn’t glaringly obvious or you miss me saying “Yeah, everything is alphabetical)…I just don’t know what to do. Seriously, 5 year olds know their alphabet. So my issue is that I give verbal and written instructions…and then they decide somewhere along the way that they have a better system than my supervisor and I who have been thinking of nothing else for a year. And due to the ridiculously large volume, that throws everyone off when one person deviates from the system.

        1. I mean, I’m not sure there’s a ton that can be done in that situation to directly address people choosing to deviate from this system outside of discipline. That said, I also recognize that temp workers rarely respond to such actions. Having been a temp myself once (actually when I started with my current employer), I can understand how there might be a feeling that the person employing you really isn’t the person employing you. By the same token, my goal was to get hired to a full-time job, which is a reason not to have that mentality.

          I’m all for positive reinforcement and positive coaching in the work place. That said, there has to be a time where you have to handle people who aren’t doing there job properly. It’s unfortunate, but it does happen.

  2. This list is pretty comprehensive, and are the same things I’ve listed when training anyone for a management style position.

    Advising has always been my specific struggle. I’m the kind of person who would rather do it myself so that I know that it’s done right, and done right the first time. It took a while to teach myself how to teach people and let them do it.

    1. I love trying to help people learn how to manage. I’m a firm believer that a great manager can turn even average employees into rockstars, while a bad manager can make even the best employees not care about their work or the company they work for. It’s an area I’m really passionate about.

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