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12 Tips to be an Awesome New Manager Who Doesn’t Suck

12 Tips to be an Awesome New Manager Who Doesn’t Suck

by Sara J. Baker, Ed.D.

So you’re a new manager. Congratulations! Now the real work begins. Being a new manager is not easy. You have to juggle a lot of different balls and keep everyone happy – including yourself. It can be easy to get so wrapped up in figuring out the job that you fall into the trap of being the new boss that nobody likes.

In fact, if we are being real (and that is the ENTIRE point of this flippin’ blog)…

…Let’s keep in mind that humans DETEST change. At least the vast majority of them – not me; I love it, and you might, too, but most people do NOT.

As the new boss, YOU are change and they don’t like it.

It doesn’t have anything to do with you. Probably. In fact, the last boss could have been a total suck-butt, but they are still feeling unease about losing what was known and comfortable, even if it was a toxic comfort. If they did LOVE the old boss, that makes it even more challenging because they are mourning not only the loss of the familiar but also a valued relationship.

That all sounds very depressing, but it’s nothing you can’t overcome as the new manager. Everyone keeps saying leadership is hard, and it is. And if anyone is telling you leadership is easy, then they’re lying or trying to sell you something, or both.

BTW, you can check out my accelerated leadership course to help you learn how to make leadership easy 😀 See what I did there. Hehehe.

Okay, seriously, how do you jump into the role of a new manager and do the whole “miss me with that bad boss mess.”

First, figure out the hot spots and where your team is giving you flack, and then plan your approach. It’s problem-solving 101, easy-peasy.

Woman screaming at another woman who is holding her head in her hands while looking down
Don’t let resistance or toxic behaviors from your new team slow you down. You can do this!

How can you tell if your new team thinks you’re lame? And WTHeck can you even do about it? Here are 12 signs and ways to combat your perceived suckiness when YOU are the new manager:

Your team members avoid you.

If you notice that people on your team are actively avoiding you, it’s a sign that they don’t respect you or want to be around you.

If you notice that your team is avoiding you, you first need to find out why. Talk to them individually and see if there are any underlying issues that need to be addressed. You might also want to try being more approachable and open with your team. Be sure to explicitly tell them that your job is to help them be successful. You might assume they know that, but often that’s not the case.

Your team members don’t listen to you.

If you find that your team members are constantly talking over you or ignoring what you’re saying, it’s a sign that they don’t think you’re worth listening to.

If you find that your team members are not listening to you, you need to make sure that they understand why what you’re saying is important. If they don’t see the value in what you’re saying, they’re not going to listen to you. Try to be clear and concise when you’re communicating with your team. Make sure they know the objectives for discussions and why their input is important.

Your team members don’t trust you.

If your team members don’t trust you, it’s going to be very difficult to get them to work together effectively. Trust is the foundation of any good team, and without it, you’re not going to be able to achieve anything.

If you find that your team members don’t trust you, it’s time to focus on building trust with them. Talk to them about what you’re trying to achieve and why you’re doing it.

Be open and honest with your team.

Authenticity wins every time.

Remember that your team members are adults and should be treated as such. When you don’t share information with them or act like you can’t trust them, then they will reciprocate that emotion. Let them know you’re there for them and want to help them succeed.

Your team members are constantly arguing with you.

If your team members are constantly arguing with you, it’s a sign that they don’t respect you or your authority. Keep in mind that a discussion with different viewpoints, even one in which people feel intensely about their perspective, is usually a sign of a healthy discussion. So be sure that you’re not mistaking a healthy discussion for an argument.

If you find that your team members are constantly arguing with you, try to find out why. Do they disagree with you because they don’t understand what you’re trying to achieve? Or are they disagreeing with you because they don’t think you’re doing it the right way? If it’s the latter, then you need to have a discussion with them about why you’re doing things the way you are. If it’s the former, then you need to make sure that they understand what you’re trying to achieve and why their input is important.

Be a New Manager Who Doesn't Suck: man making a disgusted face while gesturing toward his laptop, while talking on a cell phone

They don’t take your suggestions seriously.

If you make suggestions and your team just shrugs them off or doesn’t take them seriously, it’s a sign that they don’t think you know what you’re talking about.

If you find that your team doesn’t take your suggestions seriously, try to find out why. Are they not understanding what you’re suggesting? Or do they not see the value in it? If it’s the latter, then you need to make sure that they understand why your suggestion is important. If it’s the former, then you need to make sure that you’re explaining your suggestions clearly and concisely.

You’re always the last to know what’s going on.

If it feels like you’re always the last person to find out what’s going on in your team, it’s because you are. Your team members do not include you in the loop because they don’t think you need to know or because they don’t respect your opinion.

If you find that you’re always the last person to find out what’s going on, you need to make sure that your team members know that you want to be included in the loop. Talk to them about why it’s important for you to be kept up-to-date on what’s going on and that your purpose is to support them and make their jobs better. If you don’t know what challenges they are facing, then it’s hard to help.

Nobody ever comes to you with problems.

This one is tricky for a new manager because it can sometimes mean that your team is really independent and doesn’t need much management. But if you’re never getting any feedback from your team, it’s a sign that they don’t feel comfortable coming to you with problems.

If you find that nobody ever comes to you with problems, try to create an environment where it’s okay for people to come to you with problems. Let your team know you’re there to help them and want to hear about any problems they’re having. You can also try to solicit feedback from your team on a regular basis. If you haven’t started holding 1:1 meetings with individual team members, then get moving. You can use that time to develop a relationship with your team by focusing not only on what their trip-ups are but how you can remove the barriers to help make their jobs easier.

You feel like you’re always doing all the work.

If you find yourself doing a lot of the work on projects or constantly having to micromanage your team, it’s a sign that they’re not pulling their weight.

If you find that you’re always doing all the work, you need to have a discussion with your team about expectations. Make sure that they understand their roles and responsibilities and what is expected of them. You can also try to delegate more tasks to your team members and give them more responsibility. This will help them feel like they’re a valuable part of the team and allow them to step up and show what they’re capable of.

People are constantly challenging your authority.

If it feels like you’re constantly having to prove yourself or justify your decisions, it’s because people on your team don’t see you as the boss. They may not think you know what you’re doing or they may not respect your authority.

If you find that people are constantly challenging your authority in your role as a new manager, you need to have a discussion with your team about why it’s important for them to respect your authority. You can also try to build trust with your team by being open and transparent with them. Let them know your decision-making process and why you make the decisions you do.

Be a New Manager Who Doesn't Suck: two people argue

You don’t have to explain every decision, but giving them some insight into your cognitive processes (what you are thinking when you make decisions) will help them to understand that you aren’t just spitballing solutions and crossing your fingers for positive outcomes.

Your team never has any fun.

If your team seems like they’re always stressed out and never have any fun, it’s going to be hard for them to like you. A good manager knows how to create a healthy balance of work and play.

If you find that your team never has any fun, try to lighten up and inject some fun into the workday. You can do this by organizing team-building activities (depends on your team, some people HATE these, so tread carefully) or taking a break every once in a while to let people blow off some steam. You can also try to be more positive and upbeat yourself. Try smiling more often and laughing. You think I’m kidding, but I’m not. Nobody likes a sour puss.

Be a New Manager Who Doesn't Suck: Boss yelling at a meeting while people look down at the table

You’re not getting the results you want.

If you’re not getting the results you want, it’s a sign that something is wrong. It could be that your team isn’t working well together or that they don’t understand what you’re trying to achieve.

If you’re not getting the results you want, try to figure out what the problem is. Are people not working well together? Do they not understand what you’re trying to achieve? Once you’ve identified the problem, you can start to work on a solution. Maybe you need to have a team meeting to get everyone on the same page, or maybe you need to provide more training for your team. Whatever the case may be, once you’ve identified the problem, you can start to work on a solution.

You’re constantly putting out fires.

If it feels like you’re always putting out fires, it’s because your team is reactive instead of proactive. This means that they’re always waiting for you to tell them what to do instead of taking the initiative and doing it themselves.

If you find that you’re constantly putting out fires, try to encourage your team to be more proactive. This means giving them more responsibility and letting them take the lead on projects. You can also try to create a more positive and proactive culture by being more upbeat and encouraging people to take risks.

Don’t be afraid to call out rude behavior when needed.

Usually, the sabotaging or disrespectful behavior is more passive-aggressive than aggressive-aggressive, but either way, don’t let them intimidate you into thinking you don’t know what you are doing.

Calling out over-the-top behavior from rude adults is sometimes part of the job of being a good leader, whether you’ve been leading for twenty years or are a brand-new manager. It’s great when you can find a smooth way to work around that, but sometimes it’s okay to be forthright and say, “Hey guys, I know you aren’t the happiest about me being your new boss, but we have work to do, so let’s figure out how to make this as pleasant and efficient as possible, k?”

Empathy is key.

Don’t be ugly because that really will make you the new sucky boss. Your goal is to acknowledge that change is hard, getting a new manager is hard, and you understand that and empathize, but you all have to keep moving forward.

Consider sharing a story about a time you got a new boss that you didn’t really like but, in time, that changed, and it turned out he wasn’t the rear-end you thought he was going to be — this is NOT the time to share stories of toxic bosses. You want to reassure them that it will be okay, not scare them that you are worse than they thought.

Be a New Manager Who Doesn't Suck: New manager shaking hands with a team member hile smiling

You got this.

If you’re new to management and you feel like you have wandered down the wrong path with lions, and tigers, and bears, don’t worry – you can turn things around. It’s not too late to be the boss that everybody loves.

You just need to figure out how to get your team happy and engaged. Piece of cake, right? Okay, maybe it’s not something you make happen overnight, but follow our 12 new manager tips and you’ll be well on your way to being an awesome new manager who doesn’t suck.

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to our blog for more great content.

And if you’re a new manager, be sure to check out our course on new manager training. It’s the perfect way to set yourself up for success. Thanks for reading!

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Dr. Sara Baker, Founder of the Leadership Reformation

About the Author

Dr. Sara Baker is an advocate for positive leadership and healthy workplaces. With over 20 years of experience leading private and public organizations, she understands the challenges that employees and leaders face every day.

Sara is the author of Toxic Workplace Survival Guide, an essential resource for anyone who wants to thrive in spite of a toxic work environment or who is ready to quietly quit. In addition to her writing, Sara provides online courses for leadership development and coping with a toxic workplace.

Sara enjoys spending time with her family and friends on her farm in Texas.

Dr. Sara Baker, Founder of the Leadership Reformation

About the Author

Dr. Sara Baker is a thought leader in the area of positive leadership and healthy workplaces. With over 20 years of experience leading private and public organizations, she understands the challenges that employees face every day.

Sara is the author of Toxic Workplace Survival Guide, an essential resource for anyone who wants to thrive in spite of a toxic work environment or who is ready to quietly quit. In addition to her writing, Sara provides online courses for leadership development and coping with a toxic workplace.

Sara enjoys spending time with her family and friends on her farm in Texas.

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