By Andrew Zamorski
Earning a business degree can lead to many different opportunities in the workplace including managing a team of employees.
Amanda Rzepka (BUS ’07) knew that she always wanted to lead a team, and she earned that chance when she was hired by Jet Support Services, an airline insurance company, as an accounting manager.
“I think it is fantastic to coach and mentor people, because so many people have helped me in my career,” says Rzepka. “You’re only a good manager if you are helping your team. If they succeed, you will succeed as well.”
Rzepka manages a staff of four, including a senior-level accountant and a DePaul student intern. “When it comes to being a good manager, you need to have training and leadership skills,” says Rzepka. “I learned a lot of these skills throughout my career and at DePaul, where I got experience working on real-world group projects, balancing a heavy workload and having to deal with conflict resolution.”
Rzepka admits the toughest part of being a manager is motivating employees, while the most rewarding aspect of managing a team is seeing her employees get promotions. She offers this advice for becoming a successful first-time manager: Learn how to be humble, how to give somebody else credit and how to take credit when credit is due.
Six Things New Managers Should Do
The most important thing for first-time managers to remember is that management is the process of getting things done through others says DePaul Professor of Management Robert S. Rubin. Rubin gives the following tips for first-time managers:
Set Clear Expectations Early
Many new managers fall into the “settling-in trap” whereby they wait a considerable amount of time before setting expectations with employees. Don’t wait three months or even three weeks to jump right in and establish expectations. Hold individual meetings with every direct report within the first week to set expectations about performance goals and professional conduct. Your first 90 days are ripe with goodwill—don’t squander it.
Get To Know Your People and Show Appreciation
You have no shot at influencing others unless you build mutual liking. Uncover genuine similarities and show respect for the contributions of others. Ignore any reports from prior managers about your direct reports or teams. Draw your own conclusions.
Celebrate Early Wins
Look for opportunities to provide positive feedback at the first signs of your direct reports’ success. Demonstrate that you are paying attention to their contributions.
Whatever you do, don’t fake it. Every great manager makes mistakes. Show people you’re open to their feedback and learn from mistakes.
Underpromise and Overdeliver
Always do what you say you will do, and never make promises you can’t keep— it will ruin your credibility and trust.
Don’t Overcompensate for Differences in Age or Experience
When you are managing people older or more experienced, don’t overinflate your authority as a way to demonstrate who is in charge. Remember, you need your people more than they need you.