How to Be a New Manager

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I recently polled nearly 400 new people managers in the PR profession. When asked if they received formal manager training, I learned that only 17% had, while 83% received informal or zero training. 

It’s no wonder why the people manager is the most challenging position in our profession. We don’t know how to be one. 

And because we don’t know how to be one, we get overwhelmed and burned out, impacting our well-being and those we manage.

Reflecting on my career, I realized I lacked formal management training. I had great managers to model and follow, but as I examined times that I learned tough lessons, many were due to a lack of education in several areas that I should have learned much earlier.

We need to address proper training of new people managers in a relatable, practical and actionable way so that they can immediately develop into trusted advisors for their clients and teams.

If you’re a new people manager or responsible for helping build a new group of people managers, then please take these three tips to heart.

1. New titles and responsibilities should never come at the cost of your well-being.

Your well-being is always paramount to any updated title or list of responsibilities. Often, we take on new challenges with a positive mindset, which is great until the nights are longer and the weekends are shorter. We feel guilty about taking a vacation, and those back-to-back all-day meetings are more the standard than the exception. 

You aren’t helpful to your clients and teams if you’re well-being isn’t at 100%, and most important, it’s not helpful to you either. 

2. There are no “soft” skills, only skills.

Often, we think about skills like teamwork, communication and time management as “soft skills.” This is an inaccurate phrase that de-emphasizes the importance of these skills to the well-being of the employee and business. The assumed “traditional” skills like writing, presenting and creating spreadsheets don’t mean anything if you are unhealthy.

We need to simply refer to all these activities as skills and weigh them as crucial as any other skill.

3. We must share and learn from one another.

It’s OK not to have all the answers. Many of us don’t! 

Being a leader can be a lonely experience. Even with all the training, it’s nothing if there isn’t an environment where people can learn and share ideas safely.

Find a group of peers — whether they are already in your organization or it’s through other avenues — to formally connect with regularly. Share ideas and be vulnerable. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll hear about others going through the same challenges.

So, ask yourself: Are you in the 17% or 83%? And if you’re in the 83%, then what steps will you take soon? 

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