The First-Time Manager: Book Overview and Takeaways

What’s the book The First-Time Manager about? Are you transitioning into your first leadership position?

Becoming a manager for the first time can be challenging. In The First-Time Manager, Jim McCormick discusses how to transition into your new managerial position and build an empowering team that’ll back you.

Read below for a brief The First-Time Manager book overview.

The First-Time Manager by Jim McCormick

In The First-Time Manager, book author Jim McCormick argues that to succeed in your new management role, you must shift your focus from tasks to people and build a strong team of empowered employees capable of achieving exceptional results. Whether you’re freshly promoted or looking to brush up on your management skills, McCormick provides the ultimate guide to successfully navigating the role and responsibilities of a manager, including tips for winning the trust of your team, managing performance, and delegating tasks.

McCormick is an expert in organizational risk and the founder and president of the Research Institute for Risk Intelligence. He’s served in executive roles for various real estate and construction companies. He’s given risk management speeches to a range of businesses and institutions, including Wells Fargo, the FBI, and colleges such as Rutgers University. He’s also the author of The Power of Risk and Business Lessons From the Edge.

Part 1: How to Transition Into Your New Role as Manager

McCormick writes that your first goal as a new manager should be to win the trust and confidence of your team. He explains that trust doesn’t come with the title—some employees may be skeptical or indifferent about you, and you’ll likely be compared with the previous manager. In this section, we’ll discuss how to introduce yourself as a competent manager and start earning the respect of your employees.

Exercise Your Authority Sparingly

First, to build trust with your team, McCormick suggests you use your authority and power sparingly. Many first-time managers mistakenly assume they need to establish dominance over their team and start issuing orders and acting assertively. But McCormick explains that your employees know you’re in charge. Making a show of authority will only give people a negative impression of you, potentially causing resentment or distrust. On the other hand, using your authority judiciously ensures that people respect it when it matters.

To avoid alienating people with your authority, you should refrain from making any changes to how the team operates early on. McCormick explains that most people dislike change and fear the unknown. Making changes right when you arrive can even seem like an insult to the previous manager.

Eventually, you’ll likely want to make some changes. When you do, communicate the change ahead of time and provide as much detail as possible to help employees prepare for it. Explain the reason behind the change and how it will affect them. To help employees be more receptive, ask them for suggestions on how the changes can be implemented effectively. Sharing information and getting employees involved helps them trust that you have their best interests at heart and makes them more receptive to the changes.

Start Building Relationships With Your Employees

McCormick writes that another way to transition smoothly into your new management role is to build relationships with your employees. This makes people feel valued and helps you understand how to best support them.

McCormick recommends you start by meeting with each employee individually within the first 60 days. Focus on establishing a personal connection and communicate that you care about them individually and are there to support them. Lay out expectations for how you want to communicate with them—for instance, that you want them to share their goals, give feedback, and be open about their challenges.

After your first meeting, continue to have weekly one-on-one meetings with each employee. This not only helps you get to know them better, but it’s also a more efficient way of addressing any concerns they may have. Rather than having to vie for your attention or interrupt your work, employees can reserve the topics they want to discuss for their regular meeting with you.

Part 2: How to Build a Strong and Effective Team

Now let’s shift our focus to what’s arguably the most important task of a manager: Recruiting and maintaining a team of strong and effective individuals. In this section, we’ll discuss how to hire and train the right people, evaluate their performance and give feedback, and empower your team to take initiative.

Hire New Employees

First, to build a strong and effective team, you must hire the right people and train them to succeed in their roles. Bad hiring decisions can cost you time and money, while hiring the right person can add immense value to your team.

Manage Your Team’s Performance

To build a strong team, manage your employees’ performance by providing regular feedback, conducting periodic performance reviews, and enforcing discipline when appropriate. These techniques will help you enhance their overall productivity while helping them improve their skills and achieve their goals.

Empower Your Team to Innovate and Take Initiative

McCormick writes that you can nurture a high-performing team by empowering your employees to be innovative and to make independent decisions. He explains that technology has made centralized decision-making outdated and ineffective. As a result, teams that can operate with self-efficacy will be better able to keep up with the fast pace of business.

Part 3: Tips to Excel as a First-Time Manager

We’ve discussed how to transition into your new role as manager and how to effectively build and nurture a productive team. In this section, we’ll explore tips for excelling in your management role.

Use Your Time and Resources Wisely

McCormick writes that great managers know how to use their time and resources effectively. Two ways you can increase your efficiency are to delegate tasks to your employees and run productive meetings.

1) Delegate tasks. Delegate by reflecting on your current tasks and reassigning any that might help your employees develop their skills or improve your organization’s efficiency. Consider which person on your team is best suited for each task, then meet with them to discuss it in detail. By delegating tasks, you can save time and energy for important responsibilities and prevent high turnover, which often occurs when employees are only assigned low-value work.

2) Run productive meetings. McCormick suggests sending out a meeting agenda in advance to all participants. This ensures everyone is prepared beforehand, which wastes less time. Only invite people who need to be there and during the meeting, discuss the most important topics first. Running productive meetings saves your organization time and money.

Keep Developing Yourself

According to McCormick, good managers also continuously develop their emotional intelligence and communication skills. By improving these skills, you’ll gain a better understanding of how to support your team’s success.

Having high emotional intelligence means you have good people skills, can recognize your own and other people’s feelings, and can cope well with stress. McCormick says emotional intelligence can be improved and suggests you work on doing so to improve your ability to build relationships and empower your team.

McCormick also argues that you must be able to express yourself well if you want to manage people and projects successfully. To improve your communication skills, both verbal and written, seek out training or books as well as clubs to practice public speaking in.

Work Well With Your Superiors

Your success as a manager depends not only on how well you work with your team, but also on how well you work with your superiors. Just as you should seek to understand your employees, you should also understand the needs and work preferences of those you report to. Figure out how your manager likes to communicate and adapt accordingly. As a rule of thumb, you should always keep them updated on your current projects and be respectful of their time by being well-prepared.

Prepare for Future Opportunities

Once you’ve cultivated a team of empowered employees and learned to successfully handle your managerial responsibilities, you can start positioning yourself for promotion. McCormick suggests you plan for someone to replace your current role once you’re comfortably performing your job well. This way, you can avoid creating a gap in your department that would make it difficult for upper management to promote you. By having someone who can fill your position, you put yourself in a better position to be promoted.

If you already have someone in mind, let them handle small portions of your job until they’ve learned most of it. If you don’t have a potential replacement in mind, consider letting several employees take on some of your tasks. Once you have someone capable of taking over, start talking about their potential to your boss.

The First-Time Manager: Book Overview and Takeaways

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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