How first-time managers can earn the trust of their team

Written on May 01, 2020

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager

A promotion into a managerial role is cause for celebration, but it’s also time to stop and think about what kind of leader you want to be.

Bob_Pacanovsky“You are going to be watched and observed more closely than you ever have before,” said Bob Pacanovsky, owner of the Black Tie Experience, who works with companies on developing leadership and customer service. “The people on your team are going to look at you differently and see what you’re like: are you going to walk the walk and talk the talk?”

Whether you’ve been promoted or recently hired, if you’ve never led a team before, the transition can be nerve-wracking. Pacanovsky urged new leaders to meet with their people one-on-one in the beginning to establish a positive relationship.

Getting to know everyone around you and being sincere in your actions will go a long way, he said. It’s also important to set a pleasant tone with your team, without going overboard.

“Please understand there’s a difference between being friends and being friendly,” Pacanovsky said. “You need to be friendly with people, however you don’t necessarily have to be friends.”

When you first start, you might want to implement changes immediately. Pacanovsky said this is a common mistake of overeager managers.

“Especially if you’re new to an organization or new to a department, it’s in your best interest as a new leader to observe and listen,” he said.

If you’ve recently joined an organization, you’ll need time before you can understand how everything, and everyone, works. Pacanovsky said your team will appreciate you making the effort to understand the big picture before arbitrarily changing processes.

And if you’ve been promoted over your peers, you need to tread carefully.

“That’s probably one of the most challenging roles you can step into, to go from peer to leader,” Pacanovsky said. “It’s not easy. If you want to win over your peers you have to put others before yourself. It’s really easy to get an ego, but you need to have that mindset of ‘What can I do to help you?’ and ‘What can I do to make sure that you have all the tools you need?’”

Don’t be afraid to look to others for advice as you navigate your new position, whether that means seeking out a superior in your company or going to a career coach. Pacanovsky also mentioned the importance of showing your team appreciation for the work they’re doing.

“It’s time to move from that command-and-control leadership to an overall sense of collaboration,” he said. “Now is about getting people to work together for the common goal.”

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