6 Tips for Becoming a Good Boss

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By Marcelle Yeager

It's easy, right? Taking on more responsibility and becoming a manager at your company is a piece of cake. You've worked there for years and know the drill, so how hard can it be?

It's probably way more challenging than you imagined. Going from being just another person on a team to a manager is a big step, not only in name and function, but also in behavior and difficulty level. While before you may have been only managing your own work and projects here and there, now you are a manager of staff members and their work. You may now find yourself supervising happy-hour buddies with whom you previously complained about a manager. (Hey, that's you now!)

As you can see, it is not an easy step to take, and it's one you should take the time to plan for as much as possible. Take this advice:Maintain trust. While making the transition, always have your employees and your leadership in mind. It's important to fulfill your requirements as a manager while sustaining the trust you have with your employees.

Reframe relationships. You may not want to do so, but things will be easier for you if you put some distance socially between you and your staff. You can still spend time together outside of work, but you should avoid venting about the company and getting sloshed at happy hour. If you're going to be paid like a manager, you should act like one. That doesn't mean you can't have any fun, but it means you should be responsible and a leader in your firm.

Exhibit leadership. Effective leaders do not lead by talking – they lead by doing. That creates a culture in which employees want to emulate the type of person the leader is. Think about the traits you want your employees to mimic, and practice them. This will build trust and respect in your ability to manage through consensus and understanding.

Communicate well and often. All of us – no matter our career level – should strive to improve our communication skills, whether in verbal or written form. Ensure that your employees understand the purpose of and audience for all assigned work. In turn, they're likely to produce high quality work and perform better, because they'll feel invested in their work and know you trust them to do it. When a new policy needs to be enforced, ensure your employees understand why it is occurring, how they play a role in this change, and the impact on them. Even if they don't like the policy, if there is a complete understanding, they will respect you and your position.

Listen. Open-door policies are good, because they encourage conversation, openness and honesty. A good leader listens to the challenges her employees are facing and works to correct those that are causing problems. However, you need to establish boundaries in order to get your own work done. Perhaps you can schedule a brainstorming session where staff can bring their issues to the table. If something is personal and needs to be discussed one on one, that's a different issue that should be handled appropriately.

Find a leadership mentor. You can enhance your chances for success in your new role by identifying a person inside or outside of your organization who you respect as a leader. Ask this person to chat and share tips for success. What do they wish they'd known when they first became a manager?

The transition from employee to manager is not an easy one. People don't learn to be good managers overnight. There are inherently a lot of new skills a manager must learn in order to lead effectively. It is going to take time, patience and some trial and error.

Above all, be sure to be open and honest with employees. This is a great opportunity for you to take what you disliked from your prior management and turn it around to create a more pleasant situation for those who report to you. Leaders who decide that since they're now in the driver's seat they're going to "get people back" in the way their managers treated them will not succeed in the long run or retain top talent.

Instead, concentrate on your firm's objectives, your own goals and those of your employees to understand how those align and how to foster them. You cannot do that without maintaining trust, creating open lines of communication and exhibiting leadership qualities for your staff.

Marcelle Yeager is the president of Career Valet, which delivers personalized career navigation services. Her goal is to enable people to recognize skills and job possibilities they didn't know they had to make a career change or progress in their current career. She worked for more than 10 years as a strategic communications consultant, including four years overseas. Marcelle holds an MBA from the University of Maryland.
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