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Posted January 03, 2017 by

Key managerial skills recent college grads should master to be successful

 

To become a manager, one must show an employer they possess a wide variety of skills. Leadership skills are crucial. So is the ability to communicate, handle adversity, and deal with diverse personalities and skill sets.

A first-time manager must also develop strong critical thinking, analytical, and problem-solving skills to be successful, says Sylvia R.J. Scott, Founder of Girls’ C.E.O. Connection™ (Girl’s Creating Enterprising Organizations), a for-profit social enterprise dedicated to engaging and equipping high school girls as entrepreneurs. They also must show the company can trust them, which is why they were hired as a manager.

“A manager is the one with the ability to plan, direct and coordinate the operations of a business, division, department or operations,” says Scott. “To be a first-time manager as a recent graduate shows the company trusts the person and believes in his or hers capabilities and ability to help grow the company.”

In February Scott is speaking to a group of college women, primarily seniors, at the University of Colorado, about what it takes for first-time managers to succeed. She will focus on these eight skills, traits and attributes of a successful first-time manager:

  1. Know and understand your company culture.
  2. Know the parameters of your particular position. That includes how much leeway you have on decision making.
  3. Ask questions and get clarity even if you think you understand. As a manager you don’t have time for you and/or your staff to make mistakes.
  4. Expect the best-not perfection from your staff. Praise them when it is appropriate. If there are issues face them immediately.
  5. Learn each person’s strengths and weaknesses. Play on their strengths, not their weaknesses.
  6. Control your emotions, tongue, and actions. Avoid gossip, even after hours or with colleagues. Take a break if someone is pushing your buttons. Watch the tone of your emails when responding to challenges, and watch the tone of your voice.
  7. Always use proper English, grammar and spelling when writing any type of communication, even an email. They need to be as clearly written as any other business communication.
  8. Find a mentor within the company and then one outside your company that knows the ropes of being a manager and what is needed to excel.

Many first-time managers believe they landed a management role based on the classes/coursework completed while in college, or because of the college or university that they went to.

“This is probably only half-true,” says Vicky Oliver, author of five business books targeted to both job seekers and professionals, including 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions, 301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions and Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers & Other Office Idiots.

And while the management opportunity may be the first step in that aggressive five-year career plan, remember the company hired you to fill their needs, not to help you fulfill your dreams.

“The truth is, the hiring manager thought the managerial candidate would fit in with the company,” says Oliver. “The worst mistake you can make as a newbie is expecting everything to go full-throttle according to your dreams and aspirations. Slow down. Realize that many workers around you paid their dues in a leisurely manner and expect you to follow suit.”

And even though it’s a cliché, remember, there is no ‘I’ in the word team. So truly be more team-oriented as a first-time manager.

“While the saying is cringe-worthy, the sentiment behind it isn’t,” says Oliver. “To have a rosy future as a manager at an organization, you will need to get whole teams of people to like you and respect your work ethic. That’s going to be difficult if you keep bleating about your own particular successes to the exclusion of other people’s. Remember to give credit where credit is due, and don’t be a credit-snatcher.”

Look to make a difference, but not by making immediate changes. Sure, recent college grads may be able to do certain things better, faster, and in a more interesting way, says Oliver. But if you are always going in and suggesting improvements, it will inevitably tick off some older workers at the company. “Remember that someone at the company invented that dinosaur system,” says Oliver. “Walking in and saying, ‘it’s awful’ is going to make enemies. Instead, prove you can master the current system before suggesting any changes.”

Developing verbal communication skills, showing maturity and learning how to manage stress is also key to success as a first-time manager. As a manager, you will have to deal with other people’s problems and issues – in and outside of work. How you handle that will go a long way towards how your team and co-workers look at you as a manager.

So follow these three tips for success, says Christy Hopkins, human resources staff writer at Fit Small Business and President of 4 Point Consulting, an HR consulting and recruiting firm that boasts over 30 small business clients spanning the U.S. from Vermont to Seattle:

  1. Verbal communication skills: With most new college graduates having hid behind a smartphone or computer since they were a child, a new graduate and especially a new manager, needs to develop verbal communication skills. This ranges from dropping slang from the vocabulary all the way to using proper tone of voice (hint: managers don’t use sarcasm!). Practicing direct, yet positive ways of communicating will be incredibly important for the young new manager.
  2. Show maturity: Being a manager means you need to rise above drama, interoffice relationships, and any sort of pettiness that might have been acceptable while you were a team member. Keep the drama outside of work in order to keep your team’s respect.
  3. Stress management skills: Being a manager means that your time to complain to others about the job or company is over. Now, you need to learn how to handle others’ complaints, and not make knee-jerk reactions to direct reports, or your bosses. You may find yourself managing people, processes or policies more than actually completing work related to company business. So be patient, see through the red tape. Don’t let others’ frustrations or bad days derail your reputation as someone who is even keel and professional through even the worst of times. When it gets difficult, find a way to manage stress through other outlets by working out, painting, or playing guitar. “Whatever it is, find a way to manage stress,” says Hopkins.

Recent college grads who become first-time managers face many challenges. But they also face opportunity. Opportunity to grow as a professional and leader. The company hired you for that reason, develop these skills to become a successful first-time manager.

Are you a first-time manager seeking more career advice? Stay connected to College Recruiter by visiting our blog, and connect with us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

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