Are you considering taking that manager promotion?

The boss from the movie Office Space drinking coffee.

It might be a great career move. Being a manager has helped me earn more money and reach some of my career goals. However, it can be really stressful if you aren't prepared.

Here are some things I learned as a manager along the way that will help you start off on the right foot!

1. Active listening goes a long way

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Listen with your full attention

  • Sometimes an employee needs to talk about something important.

  • Put away your computer or phone.

  • Don't interrupt or change the topic.

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Get to know your staff

  • They have their own lives, passions, and ambitions.

  • Getting to know them better will help build trust.

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Consider their ideas and solutions

  • Let your team contribute to discussions.

  • Sharing ideas engages employees and an engaged team gets better results.

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Empathize with their problems

  • Consider things from their point of view.

  • Look out for the mental health of your employees.

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Imagine these managers are in a meeting with a new employee.

A. David is sitting behind his laptop. He looks at his screen a lot and sometimes nods his head and says, "Yeah, sounds good."

B. Cathy keeps eye contact and asks follow-up questions, "That's interesting, tell me more."

C. Ruth sits back and folds her arms. She doesn't say much and mostly just listens.

D. Gary really wants to help his employees succeed and makes sure to provide suggestions for everything that comes up.


Which manager is using active listening?

2. Stand up for your staff, but don't forget about the job

Balance the needs of the team with the needs of the business.

— Matt D'Angelo, Business News Daily

Sometimes you have to stick up for your employees. Let them know you've got their backs. Two characters from the show Almost Family talking to each other. The girl says,

  • Active listening has helped you earn your staff's trust. Maintain that trust by speaking up for them when they need it.

  • If they have a problem, take it up with the company. Make sure they have the support and resources they need.

  • You might need to step out of your comfort zone.

Example: "I know you rejected her vacation request because we already have another team member off sick, but that's not fair to Sarah."

Sometimes they need a little nudge in the right direction when it comes to their responsibilities. Kerra from the TV show Britania says,

  • While it's important to empathize with your staff, you also can't be a total pushover.

  • Imagine if your employee refused to do something that was part of their job and you had to ask someone else.

  • You can be supportive while still being responsible.

Example: "What's your reason for not finishing the writeup? Do you need some help? Let's look at it together. I'll give you some tips and then you can finish it yourself."

3. Don't let the job take over your life

An animated man balancing on a ball. The banner behind him says

Other people depend on you to be the best version of yourself. Work-life balance is super important for your mental and physical health.

  • Set clear boundaries: Let the team and the company know your specific working hours.

  • Work on your time management: Make the most of your working hours. Look into some time management tools.

  • Don't micromanage: Trust and support your team to build good working habits.


Cathy has been struggling to finish her work in the office and has to finish some things on the weekend. She even missed game night with her friends! Cathy is headed down a dangerous path. What are some things she can do? Select all that apply:

Take Action

Jamie Fox saying,

So you've decided to take that manager role. Here are some next steps to get yourself ready!


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