Magazine article Business Credit

Success Strategies for New Managers

Magazine article Business Credit

Success Strategies for New Managers

Article excerpt

Are you now in a position where you're spending less time creating reports and increasingly responsible for seeing to it that others get their work done? Are you directing outside vendors? Have you been promoted? Or has the possibility of a promotion to a supervisory position been dangled in front of you, subject to job performance, over a specific time period?

If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, you are entering one of the most challenging periods you'll ever face in your business career: your first 90 days as a manager.

More than any other business skill, managing requires a demanding set of seemingly contradictory roles: coach and player, mentor and boss, bureaucrat and autocrat, leader and follower, speaker and listener.

When you begin managing people, there's a tendency to think you have to be perfect right away. This is completely natural, but as you evolve into a manager you'll notice that supervising people is clearly much more qualitative and trial-and-error-oriented than the quantitative world of credit.

Here are a few pointers for making sure the early stages of your career as a manager go as smoothly as possible. It's not always going to be easy, but if you remember these guidelines, you'll gradually build confidence.

Leverage Your Assets

Remember the many factors and accomplishments - your technical ability, productivity - that helped contribute to your becoming a manager. This covers such professional areas as your knowledge of credit, track record, and your understanding of the company's business and objectives.

But you may have underestimated other assets you have that merited the attention of senior managers within the company. These include more intangible factors such as communications skills, enthusiasm, persistence, and aptitude for leadership. Another mark of an effective manager is good interpersonal skills, whether interfacing with others on a quarterly close or a cash flow crisis.

Nevertheless, you may still want to take advantage of any training courses offered as you make the transition from frontline employee to manager.

Start Listening

In their eagerness to make an impact, many new managers feel the need to create and impose an aggressive style of "command and control." Armed with good intentions, these managers start calling mandatory weekly meetings, issuing memos, and barking out orders. This approach is a mistake. The most important skill a manager can have is the ability to communicate. Typically we associate communicating with talking. Yet the real key for communicating effectively is your capacity for listening.

The best way to become a good listener is to get out of your office and spend time hearing the concerns and opinions of others. This includes staff members both in the credit department and in the other departments it serves (marketing, sales, administration, etc.). It also means listening to people at all levels from administrative assistants and temporaries to senior managers. The senior manager who promoted you is often a valuable source of counsel. After all, this person has worked with you enough to understand your strengths and weaknesses. He or she might also have been in the same position you're now in, and will be able to offer advice for handling specific situations.

At first, you might find all this time spent meeting and listening frustrating. You may feel that you're not being as productive as you once were, and that you'd be better serving the company if you could review a series of numbers, issue a past due report, or reconcile a budget. …

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