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ATD Blog

8 Things Every New Manager Must Do to Keep Direct Reports Engaged

Friday, July 14, 2023

You’ve just landed that new management role you’ve been eyeing! You’re now the proud owner of new responsibilities and a collection of colorful sticky notes. One of your primary responsibilities is to keep your direct reports engaged and motivated.

Unfortunately, motivating your team can be as challenging as trying to fix a printer on a Monday morning. But you have the power to create a positive work environment that inspires your team members to do their best work.

While there are many traditional motivation methods, using some unique and unconventional approaches can make a big difference. With a little creativity and some out-of-the-box thinking, you can find new ways to keep your direct reports excited about their work.

So, grab a cup of coffee, sit back in that ergonomic chair, and get ready to learn how to be the manager everyone wants to work for!

Be Transparent
No need to beat around the bush. Set clear expectations and be upfront about what you want and the role requirements. If you don’t know something, let your report know you don’t know the answer and that you will get back to them.

Have Regular Check-Ins
Take the time to check in with your team members, not just about their day-to-day responsibilities, but about their career aspirations and how they’re doing in general. A small gesture like this can go a long way in building strong relationships.

Avoid Micromanaging and Delegate Responsibility
One surefire way to demotivate your team is by micromanaging and not delegating tasks effectively. Trust your team members to take ownership of their work and allow them the freedom to make decisions.


“I default to trust people first,” says Alex Bouaziz, CEO and co-founder of Deel. “You need to trust people that they’ll work hard, do their job, and be very focused on their output. I assume people always have the best interest of the company and themselves. This model enables people to operate. They give their best selves.”

Hovering over their shoulders or constantly checking in on every detail hampers productivity and undermines their confidence. Give your team the opportunity to showcase their skills and grow by delegating responsibilities appropriately. Remember, effective delegation promotes a sense of trust and empowerment, while also fostering a collaborative work environment.

Embrace Creativity

Let your team pitch wild and crazy ideas, even if they seem far-fetched. You never know; their suggestion to build a time machine might inspire your next big project!


Offer Learning Opportunities
Get creative with how you keep your team engaged and learning. Finding different types of learning experiences is a great way to keep individuals engaged. Using an LMS with pre-built content is an excellent option for your team to upskill.

Celebrate Accomplishments
Wrap up the year with an awards ceremony recognizing the office’s most unusual or hilarious moments. Create categories like "Best Use of a Stapler" or "Most Creative Excuse for Being Late" to bring some laughter and joy to the team.

Foster Autonomy
Trust your team to take ownership of their work and allow them to make decisions and solve problems independently. This can also help them develop new skills and take on new challenges.

Inject Fun and Humor
Spice up the workplace by starting a silly contest like “dad joke of the week.” Ask the team to submit their best puns, and then let the winner choose the next team-building activity. Laughter is a great way to build a positive and lively work environment.

Becoming a manager can be both exciting and challenging. To succeed in their role, new managers must navigate the transition with confidence and adaptability. They should focus on building strong relationships with their teams, listening to their concerns, and providing support and guidance.

Effective communication is key, both in clearly conveying expectations and actively listening to the team’s needs and ideas. New managers should also prioritize learning and development, seeking opportunities to enhance their own leadership skills and staying open to feedback. By embracing a growth mindset, fostering a positive work culture, and leading by example, new managers can establish their credibility, inspire their team, and ultimately achieve success in their managerial journey.

About the Author

Fara Rosenzweig is WorkRamp's Head of Content and brings over 20 years of content experience. Her love for storytelling has earned her an Emmy Award, and she's been featured in many publications. When not wordsmithing or talking about learning and development, you'll find her globe-trotting while logging miles for her next half marathon.

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