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Leadership tips for first time manager

  • Accept that you will still have lots to learn. You will have worked hard for your promotion and will have ample expertise in your chosen field but you may find that you lack self confidence in your ability to lead. Be prepared to learn from others – including your new team.
  • Be patient with yourself. Developing strong managerial skills takes time – especially as you adjust to your new position. Seek guidance from colleagues, your line manager or your professional network when you need it.
  • Help your team see the ‘big picture’. Take time out to explain how their assignments and projects fit into the company’s larger goals and overall objectives.
  • Communicate clearly. Always keep your team fully informed of project goals, priorities and those all important deadlines. Effective communication will be essential in both establishing your credibility and gaining the support of your team so make sure that you provide clear direction.
  • Set a good example. Demand from yourself the same level of professionalism, and dedication that you would expect from others. If you expect the team to be up beat & friendly then make sure you are! If you expect written reports to be error free – then double check your own!
  • Encourage feedback. Sometimes employees are unwilling to speak up about certain issues unless prompted. Canvass opinion on issues such as support, training and resources and maintain an open door policy so that your team knows that you are willing to listen and help provide solutions to any problems.
  • Offer recognition. By publicly recognising the efforts and achievements of your team you not only build up their confidence but also encourage future contributions and effort.
  • Be decisive. A quality leader needs to make decisions and stick to them. People do not feel comfortable with someone who changes his or her mind. You only have to look at public opinion on government U-turns to see how easily confidence in a leader can be knocked or lost altogether.
  • Create an environment of constant learning and development – and include yourself in this process. Encourage your team to explore new methods for reaching their individual and the company’s goals. Allow them to make – and learn from mistakes and make a point of rewarding new and innovative ideas.
  • Provide professional guidance. A good manager – and leader will also be a mentor so make yourself available to staff members and show interest in their career development within the company. Don’t overlook the motivational power of positive reinforcement – your staff will appreciate your commitment to their progress.

Appraisals – 10 tip tips

1. Appraise yourself regularly. Make regular notes throughout the year and review your on the job performance against any performance criteria laid down by the company and keep any memos or e-mails which have praised you for a job well done. You’ll be very well prepared when it comes to appraisal time.

2. Remember that appraisals are a two-way process. Together, you and your manager should be clear on the objectives and so it’s important to differentiate this meeting from your regular catch-ups. Strengths and areas to work on should be clearly addressed by both parties and to achieve this, preparation is key.

3. Take the initiative. Prepare notes on your work performance and suggest how it can be improved. It’s also worth getting hold of a copy of your job description, and your last appraisal. List the areas that you’ve found tough and how you’ve overcome them- then list the areas you’ve excelled in.

4. Consider what resources you might need. Prepare notes on how you see your future career developing and what your goals and aspirations are. Then think about what you may need to help you further develop your role and become more effective - staffing training or mentoring for example.

5. Be completely open. All aspects of your work should be discussed both positive and negative – and from both your own and your manager’s perspective. Focusing on your weaknesses is as important as focusing on your strengths; it’s the best way you can expect to develop in your role.

6. Set the tone and be upbeat. Once in the meeting, provide a summary of how you view your performance since your last appraisal. Be positive but don’t exaggerate – it will only backfire. Don’t forget that your manager will have done as much preparation and groundwork as you.

7. Don’t expect to discuss salary or promotion. Although an appraisal may have a direct impact on both these things, they should be dealt with at separate meeting. A good appraisal should result in a set of actions to improve your work performance and a clear direction of where your career is heading.

8. If criticised, be professional and prepared to listen. Don’t get into a slanging match – you will be seen as immature and unable to accept criticism. Discuss anything that you disagree with positively and calmly – ask your manager to back up observations with examples of where you may be lacking

9. When the appraisal is over, read it through before signing it and make sure you get a copy. The appraisal shouldn’t stop when the door closes. Leave the meeting with a clear set of actionable steps - it’s your career; it’s up to you to take control of it.

10. Remain positive whatever the outcome. Always remember that appraisals are part of an ongoing relationship. Managers want their employees to be successful. If you do feel as though you have had an unsatisfactory appraisal then don’t see it as a dead end but as a starting point forthe future.

How to manage your career – 10 top tips

1. Make time to plan. Most of us will spend more time organising our annual holiday than we will planning our career! Treat your career as if it were your own business - think about your skill set as a product and market it to the right people, at the right time

2. Don’t be over ambitious. Be realistic in your expectations or you are bound to be disappointed - it's no good aiming to be CEO in the next two years if you are 21 and at the beginning your career. Know your strengths and weaknesses - and above all, know your limitations.

3. Keep your own counsel. If you have a position in mind that you really want to go for either in your own company or another - don't advertise your plans too much - no-one likes power hungry executives and, more importantly - someone may just beat you to it!

4. Stay well informed - read widely and get to know your company and the industry inside out so that you can discuss topical issues with confidence. Get to know, and keep close to, the person whose job you may want - he/she will often have a lot of influence over a successor.

5. Consider what you have achieved on a regular basis - note those achievements and make sure that the appropriate people in your organisation are made aware of them. If you don't produce a regular written report, suggest to your boss that you do so that he/she can keep abreast of your performance.

6. Think about self-image and getting yourself known - not just in your own organisation but in the business world at large - don't underestimate the power of networking - you never know when that headhunt call may come or when you will meet someone useful.

7. Support the efforts of more junior staff -this will foster loyalty and goodwill and get you the reputation of being a good person to work for If you are responsible for staff yourself, make sure you recruit a strong team who will complement your skills.

8. Don't underestimate the role of recruitment consultancies. They may be your means of escaping a company that no longer holds your interest. It may help you with an alternative strategy which gets you to your career goal faster and therefore gives you the opportunity to gain broader based experience.

9. Keep in contact with a consultancy even if you are not actively seeking a new position. It helps to know that you are still marketable and that your "sell by date" has not expired. You also stay in touch with what is available in the market and it gives a useful benchmark.

10. Don’t get so emotionally tied to a company that your judgement of your place within it becomes clouded- and don’t confuse commitment with loyalty. Your commitment should be to your company while it commits to you – your loyalty should be to yourself.

Dealing with competency based interviews

Many employers are now using what is known as a competency-based interview to learn the most about their prospective employees. This assesses behaviour in a previous role or situation and looks at how that can contribute to performance in the role being recruited for. But what is competency based interviewing and what sort of questions should candidates expect?

While historically, job descriptions have been broken down into duties and responsibilities, today more organisations are analysing roles by breaking them down into key measurable competencies which may include headings such as planning & organising; communication skills; problem solving; decision making; results orientation; team work etc. This way the employer establishes what it regards as valued and desired skills, experience and behaviour so that the individual is able to map out an indication of what is required of them.

Its is well worth, therefore, looking at what the competencies are for the role and preparing to give evidence through examples of real situations in your work where you have displayed those competencies. The STAR technique is a useful tool for this preparation:

  • Situation Describe the situation
  • Task Describe the task required to cope with the situation
  • Action: What was the action taken
  • Result: What was the outcome

he interviewer will be looking to gather evidence in support of your application to ensure that you have the ability and skills to match the ‘competencies’ needed for the job. You’ll be asked to answer questions based on how you have reacted to and dealt with previous workplace issues which relate to the key competencies for the role. Traditional interviewing focuses primarily on information on a CV which can lead to subjective decisions whereas competency based questions will be directly linked to essential functions of the role.

So, if for example problem solving is one of the key competencies, the interviewer may ask you to give an example of when you had to identify a problem and its causes, what action you took to solve it and what the outcome was. In responding to a competency-based question, the most important principle is to give a real example that actually happened to you. Avoid talking in broad terms about how you generally tackle those sorts of situations. Give a specific example. And be prepared to expand on your answer as the interviewer will probably ask you further questions to get a deeper understanding of what you did. Another typical competency question could be: "Describe two situations where you have had to work as part of a team." When asked a question like this, you should be able to talk for several minutes about your participation to a particularly strong team you have been part of in the past and how your sense of teamwork helped lead a task or project to successful completion.

And finally…. Remember that, no matter how they are phrased, all the questions posed to you in an interview boil down to one - “How would you fit into this company and do the job better than any of the other people we are talking to?”

Effective hiring – 10 top tips

Assess your needs before embarking upon the hiring process. There is a tendency when a vacancy arises to try and fill it immediately but it is often worth taking a step back and considering whether the position can be restructured reallocated or fulfilled by a temp or interim manager.

Accept that hiring has to begin before the recruitment stage. You can’t evaluate a candidate’s suitability if you haven’t identified the objectives of the role so make sure that a full job description is prepared and include expected performance and set objectives as well as duties and responsibilities.

Know what motivates candidates. Contrary to popular belief it’s not only money so find out what’s motivating your interviewees by discussing their backgrounds with your recruitment consultancy- it could be location , reputation, stability, flexibility etc. This information can be used to press their “hot buttons” when it comes to selling the opportunity.

Sell the opportunity. In a competitive market it is crucial to remember that you are selling as well as buying and candidate feedback tells us that this is the most overlooked part of any recruitment process. Selling the role will dramatically increase your chance of securing the person you want.

Focus on the positives. Talk about success factors and achievements, future growth prospects, career development opportunities and training and be prepared to discuss why you joined the company. Run through your own career progression and why other people like working there and talk about recent success stories – promotions for example.

Don’t delay the offer. A motivated and enthusiastic candidate can soon lose interest if an offer is delayed so if you think you’ve got the right person then don’t hesitate – you can always offer the job subject to satisfactory references. And avoid weighty bureaucratic offer letters to expedite decision making.

Add the personal touch. Try to ensure that the offer letter is signed by the person who has had the most contact with the candidate – or include a hand written note from that person – a candidate is more likely to accept a job from someone they get on with.

Keep in touch. If you haven’t heard back then either ring the candidate at home – or if applicable, call your recruitment consultancy. It’s important to be able to get feedback and deal with any unforeseen problems. If all is well arrange a team get together before the start date to introduce everyone.

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