Diary of a First-Time Manager
EACE Blog contribution by Angelique Torres Kim, Associate Director of Employer Relations, Salem State University
As I started a new year, I reflected on my professional journey in 2014. 2014 was the year that I became a part of a leadership team and managed employees for the first time. I had never managed before and had my reservations. If anyone has read the book The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women by Valerie Young, you may be familiar with the emotions that may be knocking down your door of self-confidence. Ultimately, I jumped at the chance to take on a leadership role in my profession.
Before starting my new post, I read the book The First-Time Manager by Belker, McCormick, and Topchik, which I would highly recommend for anyone taking on a new management position. For anyone who may be new to management like myself or are considering taking on a leadership role, here are some insights.
Get to know your employees: When starting a new post as a manager, get to know your employees. I wouldn’t recommend making changes to responsibilities or the function until you have established some level of rapport with your new direct reports first. Make sure to schedule informal catch-ups where you talk about life. These conversations can help to build trust and mutual respect and can help you gain valuable insight into what would bring the best out of your employees.
Define your leadership style early on: Who was the best supervisor you have ever had? This is a question I ask of all of my potential direct reports during the interview process. I used previous experiences to define my leadership style and I have owned it. I have a personal leadership statement, and I encourage you to develop one as well.
Communicate the vision as something larger than yourself: When you enter into a leadership position, the focus shifts from yourself as an individual contributor to an opportunity to serve others who report to you. You also have the responsibility to look out for the best interest of others on the team, the function, and the university’s overall strategic plan. “With great power comes great responsibility”, so said Peter Parker, also known as the Amazing Spiderman. Ultimately, nobody wins unless everyone does. This is a message that would need to be reinforced with your team on a daily basis.
Keep in constant contact with your employees: I would recommend scheduling both team and individual 1-on-1 meetings with your employees with a focus on open communication, generating ideas, and feedback, where you also get insight on your own performance as a manager. Provide clear goal and objectives during these meetings. Identify appropriate training and support for your employees based on these goals and objectives. I always like to say that your employees are an extension of yourself. You can’t do it on your own, and they are your ambassadors out in the field.
Understand HR process within your institution: I would suggest keeping in constant contact with your supervisor through weekly meetings and be open about any management challenges that you may be coming across. Also, you should become a subject matter expert on the HR policies within your institution. Seek guidance from your supervisor and resources with HR when needed. Don’t hesitate to continue to develop your skills. No one is perfect and mistakes will be made. You can learn from these mistakes on the road to management greatness.
Difficult Conversations: Two core values within my personal leadership statement are transparency and accountability. Do not be afraid of difficult conversations. Difficult conversations are warranted when there is a concern that the greater purpose of your function is not going to be met. As a manager, I have a responsibility to look out for best interest of individuals and the team in order to keep the greater purpose of our service moving forward.
Management has been an honor and a privilege. It has been an opportunity for me to lead others and develop them to become better. It has ultimately made me a better person, and the skills that I have developed will last a lifetime. Management has been a gift, and I encourage you to pay it forward by taking the leap into leadership yourself when the opportunity arises.
Angelique Torres Kim was a Recruiter in the University Relations space in the private sector. She is now the Associate Director of Employer Relations with Salem State University. Prior to joining the Salem State Team, Angelique was the Employer Outreach Specialist at Endicott College within the Career Center where she built the foundation for the Employer Outreach Initiative. She has served on the Board of the Career Counselors Consortium, Northeast and currently serves on the Road Trips to the Real World and Professional Exchange Visits Committees through the Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers (EACE). She presented during the EACE Annual Conference in May 2013. Angelique holds her MA in Organizational and Corporate Communication from Emerson College.
Angelique is a connector and has a passion for helping others by making connections that fulfills the needs of both students and employers.