Are you a new manager or know someone who is? The transition to a first time management role can be exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. Soon, you often realize that the strengths and skills that made you successful in your previous role are not what will spell success as a manager. To help you navigate this transition, here are five key tips to keep in mind.
- Keep learning and growing: The functional and/or technical skills that allowed you to excel at an individual level are still important. Yet, they are not sufficient to lead a team successfully. Take advantage of leadership courses, tools and resources that your company or local continuing education program provides. Then, look for opportunities every day to apply those skills as you lead your team. The more you practice, the more you will seamlessly integrate the new skills.
- Inspire and empower: Get to know the people on your team. Learn what they are passionate about. Paint a vivid and compelling vision of the future and ask for input and feedback. Align individual skills, strengths and passion with the vision and objectives for the team as a whole. Create a clear line-of-sight between each person’s contribution and the overarching desired result.
- Set clear expectations: It really is true – you do get what you expect. Establish yourself as a positive role model who exemplifies the behavior you would like to see in others. Expect that others will work well both individually and within the team and deliver high performance. Don’t assume that team members will intuitively know what you want them to do. Establish clear expectations, provide support and hold people accountable for results. You’ll be amazed at how motivating it can be to your team to know that someone believes in them.
- Develop your people: Change can be challenging and sometimes we hold onto the work that we most enjoyed because it feels comfortable. It’s time to take the leap and delegate key responsibilities to your team members. This frees you up to focus more of your time on your new role and develops the skills of your team. Make sure that you provide a level of decision-making authority and support that is appropriate to the skill level of the team member and the complexity of the task. When in doubt, err on the side of less authority and more support. You can always give more authority over time but you never want to have to take it back.
- Establish credibility as a manager: If you’ve been promoted within your current organization, you may now be supervising former peers. This can lead to an uncomfortable situation for both you and your colleagues unless you address the shift directly and quickly. Give up on the idea of being liked by everyone and staying best buddies with your former peers. It’s hard to be viewed as being fair and objective if you are continuing to socialize after work and have lunch every day with your close friend who now works for you. While it’s not an easy conversation to have, it is an important one. You might start off with something like, “Our friendship is important to me. As a manager now, I must ensure that the team feels that I’m being fair and unbiased. In order to do that our work relationship needs to be different.” You and your former peer will be glad you discussed your new dynamic.